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TRANSFORMERS

Locations
Location manager Ilt Jones likes to joke. "When Ian hired me, he never prepared me for the seventh ring of hell, but in fairness, we went way beyond that, so even though I've worked on some tough shows, this one set the Olympic gold standard,” he laughs. "I think dealing with the military and all the government-run facilities was the most complicated because of the climate we now live in post 9/11. It's had a profound effect on my job.”

Jones and his staff worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security throughout the production, not only when it came to working at government sites, but also in terms of working in high-traffic tourist areas, handling fly zones for helicopters and camera ships, bringing weapons to public places for many of the big action sequences and on many other issues formerly the purview of local authorities. His staff also worked closely with the Department of Defense to move the entire shooting company onto different military bases throughout production – not a simple feat.

Filming commenced on April 19, 2006 with a preproduction shoot followed by full production start up on April 22 at Holloman Air Force Base, home of the 49th Fighter Wing, in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The film company spent the majority of their time on the White Sands Missile Range, test site of the first atomic bomb, which abuts Holloman and is the property of the US Army. For years the Missile Range has been used jointly by the Army and Air Force to train troops for combat.

Jones, along with assistant location manager Burmeister, who oversaw the Holloman shoot, and DreamWorks Safety and Environmental Consultant Jim Economos hired UXB International, one of the largest and most respected explosive ordnance disposal companies around, to search for live, unexploded mines and lost missiles. "They swept about 28 acres for us,” Jones states, "at a depth of about four feet so that we could build our Bedouin village (and ironically blow it up) without fear of someone stepping in the wrong area.”

Jones also made special arrangements for the film company to bring in their own special effects explosives. "We had to make sure that our humble bombs were tested before we brought them on base,” he laughs. "And when we did blow something up, their FOD [Foreign Object Debris] personnel were on hand to make sure it was assiduously cleared and nothing left behind. They checked out everything, from the radio frequencies on our walk-talkies to crew members who weren't US citizens. We just had to make sure that filming didn't interfere with their day-to-day operations.”

It is important to note that the production company paid for all services rendered, all fuel costs as well as salaries for military personnel who worked on the film. The men and women who volunteered to be extras worked on their off-duty hours and any shots of working military hardware were filmed during routine military activities and test missions. There was no cost to the US taxpayer in the making of this movie.

"We dovetailed filming of certain sequences with planned military operations,” Jones says. "It was a natural symbiosis. The Air Force constantly practice and practice with various aircraft and we'd make sure to catch them at the right time. We needed shots of C-130s, for example, so we went to Kirtland to shoot the transport planes as soldiers were boarding so in the movie it will look as if troops are being deployed.”

The company also traveled to Albuquerque to shoot in an old train yard and an adjacent industrial area that hasn't been renovated since the early turn of the century.

The size of the sets, not to mention the real-life locations, enthralled the cast and crew, many of whom had never been to Hoover Dam before the company shot there. For LaBeouf, Fox, Duhame

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