Here’s an article published today in Reuters on efforts to promote Jordan as the ‘go-to places to shoot Middle Eastern-set movies’.
One is authenticity, something Bigelow was advocating. You can’t get any closer to Iraq for an Iraqi-set movie than Jordan, its neighbor to the east; additionally, Amman, the city where “Locker” was shot, has similar architecture to Baghdad. It also has many Iraqi expatriates — many of whom became part of the production in front and behind the cameras — as well as camps of refugees from neighboring war-torn nations. All of this suited the production, which often used a scaled-down crew to capture the tensions of war life.
The other ace is the Jordanian royal family, which is committed to the growth of the film industry and oversees the country’s film commission. The family and the commission saw the movie as an opportunity to show what the country is capable of doing and that it’s safe for Westerners to shoot there.
“Locker,” an indie war movie with a small budget, received access to such Jordanian military equipment as helicopters and Humvees and even had army personnel acting as production assistants as it turned blocks and blocks of the city into its own set — a veritable war zone with snipers attacking from behind corners and the smoking entrails of explosions snaking down streets.
The production did have to import dozens of guns and thousands of rounds of ammo for the shoot, a sensitive proposition in today’s political climate, especially in that part of the world.
At one point, the production was within eight hours of filming a major set piece when it learned that its very real props were being held up at customs and looking at a four- or five-day clearing process.
“We had very high-level personal intervention from the government,” Boal says. “Someone who basically controls the entire military picked up the phone and said, ‘Get these guns through.'”