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Shooting Locations
In 2006, while many a director has settled for green-screen technology or cheaper locales to lens his or her story, Mann has resisted and rejected those cheats. For the filmmaker, it is crucial to go to the actual places where his characters live, work and play. "There are things you can't artificially create,” he says. "As good as our crews are, you can't duplicate the texture, the fabric of the neighborhoods. Audiences know when you're making it up, and they know when you visually deliver an animated environment for the actors that makes it feel like they are truly here.”

Mann and his location team aggressively searched out territories around the world that duly reflected the mood of the scenes they needed to film. The lion's share of Miami Vice was filmed in Miami and Key West, Florida, with forays into Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Brazil.

The city of Miami has changed considerably since the early 1980s when Mann's television series helped to usher in a new generation of Miami tourism. Recently off his Oscar® win for Memoirs of a Geisha, Australian cinematographer Dion Beebe would rejoin Mann for Vice. The Collateral director of photography poses that Miami is in great transition. "I think it's hard at times to define,” he feels. "Miami is a city that is finding itself.”

Miami has grown vertical in style with numerous high-rises now dotting the horizon and construction occurring everywhere citizens and tourists look. Discussing the new Miami, Mann explains that the city is more cosmopolitan, affluent and sophisticated than what he saw during his television series' shooting days. "Miami is now much more muscular. It's extremely different than it was in the '80s—the ‘new architecture Miami' is a city about transparency. You see the storm systems forming out over the Bahamas and look out glass walls high in the air. You're at one with nature and have a sense of being elevated right over Miami Harbor.”

Despite the four or five storm fronts that could come through daily in August 2005, Farrell found the jewel of South Florida gorgeous, describing it as "a lake with coins that have been thrown on the water and float to the surface.”

Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita became unwelcome visitors to the set of Vice while the crew was filming throughout the Caribbean. While not causing damage to the areas in which they were shooting, the hurricanes remained a somber reminder to the cast and crew of the devastation happening throughout the Gulf region of the U.S. The production lost seven days of shooting due to the ferocity of the storm systems, but fortunately, never had to shut down completely. "It impacted us, but was trivial compared to the loss of life and devastation suffered by so many in the southern part of the U.S,” relates Mann.

Notes Farrell, "The hurricanes were so powerful and awe-inspiring. But the damage they caused…it was just so horrific.”

Foxx recalls happier moments of his time in South Florida suggesting, "People will want to see the Miami that Michael gives them in this film…the boats, the planes, the brand of what Miami actually is.”

Design notwithstanding, Mann knew this was still a place with amazingly dark stories to tell. He doesn't lean on the tried-and-true South Beach images of '80s pastel, but features the fresh look of the city that explores not only the extraordinary houses and high-rise condominiums, but also its less scenic underbelly.

The desire to capture that grit of the drug underworld throughout the film would lead his production team out of the U.S. and to multiple locales in the Caribbean, as well as central South America, Paraguay.

One of the opening sequences of the film begins with a courier delivery in an unusual place. Mann opted to shoot the sequence in Ciudad del Este (CDE), Paraguay,<

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