Behind the scenes of Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
This year’s Cannes Film Festival brought with it a seismic event for the production industry, one which many thought would never come to pass: the release of Terry Gilliam’s long-gestating passion project, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.
After several attempts to complete the film, the final product concluded principal photography in June of last year following 59 shoots days. We spoke to Don Quixote’s Location Manager, Ana Ibañez Arrarte to delve behind the scenes of one of the most infamous productions in history.
Which locations were used for the film and did they require much dressing to portray the film’s time period?
In Spain we had Madrid (La Cartuja de Talamanca/Viñuelas Castle), Segovia (Valsain Forest - National Park), Avila (Alto de Ojos Albos - Windmills), Toledo (Oreja Castle and Almonacid Castle), Zaragoza (Monasterio de Piedra), Navarra (Gallipienzo and San Martín de Unx), Canary Islands (Fuerteventura). For Portugal, we only filmed in Tomar (Convento Do Cristo).
Some of them were selected for their natural look, but we also a lot of dressing involved. Terry’s mind is crazy and imaginative, and he knows perfectly what he wants. We worked with the honoured Production Designer Benjamin Fernandez and the Decorator Edou Hidalgo, who brought our locations to life and gave us the opportunity to capture some incredible landscape shots.
Were there any major technical challenges to overcome?
We had really short prep time for certain permits so it was a real marathon. We had to construct a huge fake windmill over 6th century ancient villages or inside the ruins of a castle, so we had to have an archaeologist with us the whole time to tell us where to work and how. We also had to open roads to let the trucks drive close to certain locations, and obtain a permit to shoot under huge modern windmills during winter while establishing security perimeters to let the crew work on our "windmills". We had huge storms that stopped the shoot for a day to let the crew get dry clothes and remove all the mud from the equipment… and many, many other stories to tell. I could spend hours talking about this movie. It was Terry Gilliam’s Quixote after all, anything could happen.
Given that the film had been in production for decades, was there an added level of pressure to succeed?
Of course there was. Terry was very exigent and the production was too in terms of budget, but the magical thing was that the whole crew was in the same boat and we all knew that we had to give our all to make this happen. Also, because this film is what it is, many authorities threw themselves into the project and helped in various ways to make permits happen. The real pressure was to think: what if we fail again?
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is now screening in Spanish cinemas nationwide. A worldwide release date has yet to be set.
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