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TRADE

On Location
Production on Trade began in Mexico City on November 28th, 2005 and wrapped on Feb. 15th, 2006 in New Jersey. From the start of shooting it had a been a year and a half that Heller and Emmerich had begun development based on Landesman's original story, and a mere eight weeks since Emmerich had given the go-ahead for pre-production to begin. 

With the screenplay's narrative moving through vastly different terrains – from the barrios of Mexico City, where the characters of Adriana and Jorge live, to the border crossing at Juarez and the arid Texan landscapes, to the leafy suburbs of New Jersey – the filmmakers knew that authenticity could only be achieved by shooting entirely on location. 

Mexico City hosted the scenes of Adriana's birthday party, Jorge's street gang and the first stash house in la Merced where Adriana meets Veronica, as well as the stash house in Juarez. It also subbed for a sequence in Poland, shot in a section of the city built by the Mexican military that features huge socialist-era buildings and vast stretches of concrete. To mimic a snow landscape of Veronica's home town in Poland, an entire square was covered with tons of sea salt. "It was probably the first time the residents had ever seen snow in the city!” laughs Kreuzpaintner. 

After a short holiday break, the crew relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico. There they shot the scenes of Ray and his wife at home, and the final, climactic rendezvous at the stash house in New Jersey. The final locations of highways and traveling shots were shot by the second unit in New York and New Jersey. 

Joining the production was a multinational cast and crew of Germans, Americans, Mexicans and two Poles, all communicating in a polyglot of languages with the "default” being English. Mexican crew members "were some of the hardest working I've ever seen,” said co-producer Amanda DiGiulio. Many of the Americans were veterans of major studio productions who had turned down more lucrative work to become part of what all considered a uniquely important project.

For Kreuzpaintner, it was critically important that the film's production focus on the human story of the girls' plight and avoid any hint of political expose. "The danger of this kind of movie is that you can lose yourself in the complications and set-up of the big subject matter of sex-trafficking, which spans several countries in our movie,” the director notes. "So my focus was just to stay with my characters and really put them under an emotional microscope. We didn't want to sensationalize this and just show all the cruelties that happen to these girls, how they are being raped by guys who have enough money to buy them. That would be like making them a victim for a second time. I just wanted to give them the chance to be human beings, to fight for their right to be free.”

To emphasize this sense of freedom and the actors' emotional journey, the director allowed his actors to improvise. "Often I like to rehearse more the character's background and situations than particular scenes,” Kreuzpaintner notes. "Sometimes I wouldn't say ‘cut' at the end of a shot in order just to let things happen out of a situation written in the script. And sometimes those moments were the most interesting of all.”

The director and his cinematographer, Daniel Gottschalk, were also careful not to over-plan the camerawork. Trade was shot almost exclusively with handheld cameras, often using several at a time in order not to miss any special moments or details from the actors. "Instead of using a lot of special lights and set-ups, we wanted to give the scenes the look and feeling of reality,” says Gottschalk. "So in the first part of the movie in Mexico, our aim is to create camerawork that is full of life and color and energy. People here have a lot of interaction and live in very small spaces, so we use a very ac

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