Jordan doubled as multiple locations for Matthew Heineman’s A Private War
Respected documentary maker Matthew Heineman’s fictional debut A Private War split filming between Jordan and London.
The biopic of celebrated war correspondent Anne Marie Colvin, who reported from the front line of conflicts across the globe stars Rosamund Pike as Colvin, while Jamie Dornan, Stanley Tucci and Tom Hollander take on leading roles.
Conflicts in Sri Lanka, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq are depicted in the film but select locations in Jordan doubled for each country. Heineman notes that “It was amazing to be able to capture Sri Lanka, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria all within one country. We were able to find locations that felt distinct. We spent many, many months recreating all the different war zones, researching them and trying to mimic, as much as possible, what they looked like and felt like”. Production designer Sophie Becher explained that “we settled on Jordan as it was the most realistic and offered us lots of varied landscapes to harness in the design process”.
According to Pike, the range of landscapes found in Jordan surprised even locals working on the production. Pike recalls “it was uncanny how Jordan was able to stand in for all these different conflict zones. The terrain was so varied. We went to a forest and Jordanians said, ‘I had no idea this existed in our country’”.
Forested terrain was used to double for Sri Lanka, where Colvin was hit by a grenade resulting in the distinctive eye patch.
Jordan is a leading location for war films, having hosted production for Ketherine Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, Sand Castle and Zero Dark Thirty. Not only can the urban landscapes double for Baghdad and Damascus, but Jordan is home to many refugees escaping the regional conflicts, making credible casting options available.
Heineman explains that “Authenticity was my North Star” especially in the depictions of war. One of the ways he managed this was by using real Syrian refugees as extras. Pike adds “it’s a film that’s narrative and yet has a tremendous quality of documentary about it, too”.
The film transitions from war zones to a glamorous London lifestyle, a stark shift that war reporters experience. These scenes were captured in the UK capital after the Jordanian shoot was completed.
Elsewhere in Jordan, Disney’s live action remake of Aladdin recently filmed in the Wadi Rum desert, and Netflix’s first Arabic Original series Jinn shot at some of the country’s many historic locations.
The UK Film Tax Relief offers a cash rebate of up to 25% of qualifying budget to national and co-productions to films.
Images: Aviron Pictures
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