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BLOOD DIAMOND

About The Location
"Blood Diamond” was filmed almost entirely on location in Africa, which Ed Zwick says was crucial, largely for reasons that were somewhat intangible. "Africa is a place of great contrasts: everywhere you go, you are confronted by images of breathtaking beauty and heartbreaking squalor, of deep spirituality and severe deprivation. Everything is in your face, and it had an effect on all of us. It would be hard to describe what that effect was…but suffice it to say, had we filmed anywhere else, the film would not have that ineffable sense of place.”

The production also filmed in Sierra Leone, although, the director acknowledges, "Equatorial West Africa just didn't have the infrastructure to accommodate all our needs for this size production. We needed other locations, as well.”

After scouting the coast of southern Africa, an area near Port Edward, South Africa, in the KwaZulu Natal province, proved the ideal site. The region's lush jungle landscape provided the backdrop for three major sets: the diamond mine, the refugee camp and Benjamin's school. To create the sets, production designer Dan Weil did his own research but also had the added benefit of Samura's firsthand descriptions.

The weather, however, was less than cooperative. "This is the third time I have gone to a location where I've been promised beautiful weather, and yet, somehow, I manage to elicit the largest rainfalls ever recorded in modern history,” Zwick laughs. "In fact, they had record-breaking rainfall in what was already the rainy season. It meant we had to keep adapting to the circumstances, and Eduardo and I were always reconceiving our shots to fit the weather,” he adds, referring to cinematographer Eduardo Serra.

Paula Weinstein adds, "This is a very exciting, very alive continent”—with, she reveals, the emphasis being on alive. "Every morning, the guys would come to the set and start describing what kind of bug they'd seen in their room the night before. Every day, it was like, ‘Okay, what was in your room last night? Was it a lizard? Did you see that snake?' You had to have a sense of humor about it; you certainly couldn't act like some spoiled Hollywood type. That was definitely not going to go over well, but we had fun trying to top each other's stories.”

Apart from weather and wildlife concerns, the filmmakers were ever-conscious that they were working in an environmentally sensitive area and were determined that every location would be left in as good or, in some cases, better condition. Co-producer Kevin De La Noy notes, "Before we came into the valley, we had to have a full environmental-impact survey, and once we began working, we had to stay within an environmental management plan. We had officers of the provincial land management bureau on set with us every day to ensure that any indigenous plants we had to move were moved in the correct manner. Then those plants were maintained in a nursery to be replaced at the end of our time there.” In addition to meticulously preserving the existing plant life, the filmmakers also had the native plants and trees of Sierra Leone trucked in to dress the location.

To accommodate the trucks, a system of roads had to be created where there had been little more than footpaths before. The roads had to be wide enough for large vehicles but designed to have the least impact on bordering trees and shrubs. The road itself was constructed on a frame of thick wire mesh so it could be easily pulled up at the conclusion of filming and the natural vegetation could reclaim the path.

Zwick reports, "Kevin recently returned from a follow-up trip to Port Edward and said that not only has the grass grown over the place where we filmed, but other wildlife has come back in abundance, much to the delight of the local rangers and environmentalists. The restoration o

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