With a cast in place, principal photography began on September 7,1999. The battles and sweeping landscapes as well as the bustling city of Charleston required an active cast and crew comprised of 63 principal actors, 95 stuntmen, 400 extras and 400 re-enactors. Major structures were built to accommodate the drama and the action of
the film including the entire town of Pembroke, the ruins of Cowpens and Benjamin Martin's plantation.
"The Patriot" shot at various locations throughout northern South Carolina, in and around a small community called Rock Hill, before ending the film in the graceful city of Charleston. While the filmmakers originally scouted such far-flung places as Canada, Ireland and New Zealand, the Carolinas proved to be the most advantageous shooting locale for several reasons.
"We knew we needed huge, unspoiled distances for these enormous 18th century battle scenes," explains executive producer William Fay. "Obviously, the story takes place there, and the fact that it is an American story made us feel that we should try to keep it in the United States. Another big factor for us was that all period props, wardrobe and set dressing were available in the South. Also, the quality of the extras... I'm not sure why, but you just see some amazing faces in the South."
"The Patriot" filmed from September to early December in Rock Hill, which offered a unique block of Colonial homes known as Historic
Brattonsville. A 720-acre living history village and Revolutionary War battlefield site, Brattonsville provided several properties that became sets for "The Patriot": Flightower Hall served as the exterior and interior of Camden Plantation; The Homestead House became the interior of Charlotte's plantation; Colonel Bratton's house provided the space for some of the
Howards' bedrooms. Artists, craftspeople, carpenters and painters all labored to refinish floors, repair and augment ornate moldings, rebuild walls and essentially renovate the area.
After several weeks, the company moved to Charleston. The first scenes shot there occurred at the College of Charleston, which doubled for the Charleston Assembly Hall, where the Continental Congress occurred.
"The Patriot" also filmed at the city's famed Tradd and Meeting Streets, where colorful rows of Colonial homes still stand. One of these residences served as the exterior of Charlotte's house, where Benjamin Martin brings his family, including his mute two-year-old daughter, Susan (played as an older child by Skye McCole
Bartusiak). Unfortunately, during the scene, the young actress chosen for the role spied a doll that Joely Richardson's Charlotte would eventually present to her. Impatient for her prize, she called out loudly, "I want the doll!"
"It's a miracle— she's cured!" Gibson joked.
The film also turned to South Carolina's famed plantations for several scenes. Mansfield Plantation hosted several locations, from Charlotte's garden, porch and balcony to a portion of
Cornwallis' headquarters. The 275-year-old plantation is famed for its authentic slave quarters, which the production also used.
Middleton Place, home of "America's oldest landscaped gardens," became the site of an elaborate British party in which Cornwallis suffers yet another indignity due to Martin and his Militia's mischief, which would culminate in a giant explosion in the nearby river.
In stark contrast to this refined and decadent setting was the freed and escaped slave territory, shot at Botany Bay Plantation on Edisto Beach. This plantation was, in fact, a 5,000- acre wildlife preserve. Thatched huts and African-style woven baskets and blankets dotted a thin stretch of beach that represented the oasis to which the Martin family escapes. The production shorthand for this location was the "Gullah Maroon"— Gullah is actually a la
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