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PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN

Production Design
Produced under rather unconventional circumstances, the filmmakers began designing and building many set pieces as well as scouting for locations before a script was complete. "I was able to do storyboards before many of the scenes were in place because a lot of the bones were already there,” says Verbinski. "Brian Morris [production designer] and I would start exploring ideas, we'd discuss it with the writers, and some of them would end up in the script.” 

Morris enjoyed collaborating with his director. "The scale of Gore's moviemaking was very attractive and appropriate to this piece,” he says. "Gore is incredibly visual. Even in his personal environment, you can tell immediately that he's got style and taste. He gave me a feeling that he trusted me to handle the job, which is always great.” 

The story presented contrasting motifs. On one hand, the curse and an overall sense of villainy were the most prevailing themes. On the flip side was the spit-and-polish order of the stiff, uppercrust Brits. 

Dariusz Wolski, who had worked with Gore Verbinski before on "The Mexican,” handled cinematography chores once again on "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” 

"He was the perfect choice,” says Verbinski of Wolski. "I've worked with him before but in a completely different way. ‘Pirates' is about creating a definite style and design; ‘The Mexican' was about the absence of style.” 

Like most of the crew, Wolski found shooting on water a formidable challenge. "The hardest part from a director of photography point of view was when we shot day exteriors,” explains Wolski. "Normally when you shoot day exteriors, you know where the sun travels and you turn yourself around accordingly to maintain some continuity in lighting throughout the day. Now you're adding another element, which is a boat. And a boat is only going to go a certain way. It's going to go the way the wind blows.” 

But Wolski enjoyed the work. "It's fantastic. It's challenging—you're going out of your way to make it as good as possible; it's a big movie. But I'm really happy I've done it.” While Morris pored over paintings from the period, Wolski and Verbinski spent as much time as possible looking at old pirate movies and studying story elements and visual aspects of great adventure films. They decided to go in an even more majestic and embellished direction than their predecessors. 

One of the examples of this extravagance is the pirate cave where Barbossa stashes the many riches he and his crew have plundered. It was the centerpiece of the many sets constructed at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. The largest stage on the Disney lot, Stage #2 was the same space the studio had redesigned in 1997 to accommodate Bruckheimer's enormous asteroid set for "Armageddon.” The newly enlarged stage was the perfect location to build a lavishly adorned cavern complete with winding waterways, a moat, little grottos and treacherous rocky terrain. 

Production designer Brian Morris was given total freedom to create the perfect pirate hideout. "Brian and Gore swung from one end of the spectrum to the other,” says Bruckheimer. "A pirate lair is an utterly mythical place; creating a location like that is a dream come true for any creative mind. Of course Brian and Gore had to consider specific action and story points, but as long as the cave was built as a workable space, they had carte blanche.” 

It took 100 craftsmen five months to build the cave set. It was then filled with 300,000 gallons of water, a process that took three to four days, and dressed over a period of three weeks. 

Set decorator Larry Dias and his staff spent a considerable amount of time researching the era and hunting for appropriate items to decorate the vast set. "It was a big job just trying to stay true to the period and to the style of movi

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