"Fool's Gold" is set in the Caribbean and the original plan was also to shoot the movie there. However, certain logistical concerns, not to mention the impending hurricane season, forced the filmmakers to change the plan. They eventually found everything they needed in and around Queensland, Australia. Filming took place in Port Douglas, Lizard Island, the Whitsundays and the Gold Coast.
Production designer Charles Wood notes, "Andy had his heart set on the movie being set in the Caribbean. So once we knew we would be filming in Australia, I had to replicate the look of the islands there. We looked for similar environments on the coast of Australia and then a major part of my job was to capture the essence of the Caribbean."
Andy Tennant comments, "As a director, you have to trust that a production designer is going to somehow interpret your vision, and Charles Wood was equally invested in all the details and the nuances of the story. He is as meticulous as you could ever want a production designer to be, and he has the talent to back it up."
Wood traveled to St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John islands to research the designs and to get a feel for the overall atmosphere there. To design the Queen's Dowry, he also spent a considerable amount of time at the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum in Key West, Florida, which boasts an extraordinary collection of treasures, documents and other relics dating back hundreds of years. The designer says the visit was invaluable because "I could see actual Spanish treasure and understand exactly how it would look. It's all been very well documented through illustrations and photography, so it allowed us to make the treasure as detailed and accurate as possible."
Real-life treasure hunters spend much of their time exploring the ocean depths, so much of the action in "Fool's Gold" takes place near, on or under the water, which came with its own inherent set of challenges. Tennant remarks, "Everyone told me working on water is tough, and it is. The weather changes in an instant, the skies change, the water changes, things can even sink. You've got to anticipate that things will go wrong and be prepared. In these situations, the team you put together makes or breaks you and I was extremely fortunate to have (director of photography) Don Burgess, who worked on films like 'Cast Away' and 'Forrest Gump' and knows about working on water. He was an incredible asset."
Donald De Line, who was on set throughout production, adds, "I think the biggest challenge in moviemaking is filming on water so that was a major concern. You can spend lots of time planning everything, but in the end you're at the mercy of the elements and things don't always go right. We were shooting from boat to boat, from air to boats, from land to boats...every variation you could think of. Everything had to be carefully choreographed. Luckily, we had an amazing marine coordinator named Lance Julian."
Julian was responsible for gathering the flotilla of boats used in the production, including the few seen on camera, as well as the dozens more that were utilized as camera boats, transport boats and dive boats. One of his most important finds was the 140-foot yacht that doubled as Nigel Honeycutt's luxurious Precious Gem. The right ship was ultimately found in Fiji, and Charles Wood says it fit the bill perfectly. "We needed it to have multiple decks and have a diving area off the stern and this one had it all. It's not easy to find boats of that scale that are available for this kind of work, so we were lucky to find one that was close to Australian waters and one that the owner would allow us to film on."
"I know if I owned a yacht like that, the last thing I would do would be to let a movie crew on board," Tennant laughs. "It's a beautiful boat and we really appreciated that they let us take it over for all that time."
For the cast, working on water me
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