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THE RECRUIT

About The Production
Roger Donaldson was intent on getting the details right. When production began at a farmhouse outside of Toronto, it was after many weeks of careful preparation and attention to detail. "Realism is something that I enjoy creating on the screen. I want the audience to feel like it's really there. It looks easy to do, but trying to distill out of anything what the reality of it is difficult. It's always a challenge,” comments Donaldson. 

Production designer Andrew McAlpine and cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh took on that challenge. They were both committed to the task of giving the film a realistic look and feel. For inspiration, McAlpine watched films and studied pictures to create the look that he describes as "a realistic depiction of a fictional world. There's no precedent for The Farm, no one knows what The Farm is, so it gave me an open book to create.” 

"Half of the film is based upon the notion of a training base where we, the public, would expect recruits to get the best training in the field. The other half is at Langley, which we feel needs absolute accuracy in terms of representing the nature of that fortress of buildings,” continues McAlpine. 

Since its creation, The Central Intelligence Agency's tradition of secrecy and intrigue has been a fount of inspiration for many screenwriters and novelists. In the past the Agency responded to most inquiries for information with either "no comment” or "I can neither confirm nor deny…,” according to the CIA's film industry liaison, Chase Brandon. "Given that posture, we invariably left ourselves open to be interpreted by screenwriters and novelists,” says Brandon. "By not responding when we were shown in a negative light, and by failing to offer actual information as background research, we only added to the likelihood that writers would continue to misrepresent the true mission of the Agency and fail to portray the true heroism, patriotism, honor and integrity of CIA officers.” 

After decades of silence, the CIA decided to change its policy and sought to become more involved in promoting its public image. Aware that it was the clandestine nature of its operations that fueled the public's imagination, the CIA's Office of Public Affairs asked Chase Brandon, a covert field operations officer for 25 years, to drop cover and begin an overt dialog with the film industry. Brandon's new mission was very straightforward: "If someone wants to make a TV show, a documentary or a feature film about us and treat us in a fair and balanced way, chances are we can provide some reasonable measure of support and cooperation to the project.” 

Brandon added, "We understand that dramatic storytelling involves taking poetic license with facts. For example, a CIA recruit would never have to go through the kind of physical abuse that Colin Farrell's character endures. But, that said, I must say that I appreciated the producers' and director's efforts to ensure that other aspects of tactical training were realistically portrayed. Certainly, ‘The Recruit' shows Agency life more accurately than many films in the past.” 

When the Agency commits to providing their support to a project, that can include letting a photographer shoot stills to help in designing sets, or, in certain instances, having the actors spend time in the building. By visiting Langley, the director says, he came to "understand how the space worked and looked. I needed a real sense of how a new person would feel when they saw the place for the first time.” 

After security concerns dictated that the filmmakers could no longer visit the building, Brandon was still able to assist the production, although in a different way. Instead of having the production take pictures to help with set design, Brandon did it himself. "I measured all of the distances between the stars on the memorial wall and the size of the statues in the lobby

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