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On Location
With the Mark 1 suit completing its successful debut in the cave sequences, the production moved north to Lone Pine, California to shoot the film's ambush scenes, where Tony Stark's convoy is attacked by a group of insurgents following his company's demonstration of its newest weapon, the Jericho missile. The convoy attack sequence finds Downey running through a flurry of explosions in order to escape from his would-be captors, requiring perfect timing and precision, which was orchestrated by stunt coordinator Tommy Harper and special effects coordinator Dan Sudek.

"The convoy attack in Lone Pine was a lot of fun to shoot,” says stunt coordinator Harper. "First of all, we shot it on ‘Movie Road,' a historical place where a lot of famous Westerns and other films have been shot. We blew up six or seven Hummers and completely destroyed them, but the pivotal part of the sequence is when Tony Stark gets out of his car and is running for cover as multiple explosions and landmines are going off a few feet away from him.”

Downey reflects upon the sequence. "Shooting a sequence like this is always a trust game and when you work with guys like Tommy Harper and Dan Sudek who are at the top of their field, you just say in your mind, ‘That thing is going to blow up behind me and I'm going to be okay.' I always felt very safe and was shocked by how much we were able to accomplish at such close proximity. I'll tell you one thing, though – it definitely helps you kick up some dust when you know that what you're running away from is about to explode three feet behind you.”

"Robert did a fantastic job in the scene and was just fearless,” says producer Feige. "It really sells the action, because when you see Robert running through this extremely intense crossfire with explosions going off everywhere, it really ratchets up the tension in the scene.”

When the production moved a few miles south to the Olancha Sand Dunes, the cast and crew had to endure two days of 40 to 60-mile an hour winds that almost shut down production. For Favreau, the adverse conditions turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the look of the film.

"The Olancha Sand Dunes are an extension of a dry lake bed between two mountain ranges,” he explains. "The first day we were hit by 40-mile an hour winds as we were shooting Robert walking through the desert just before he is rescued by Rhodey. We just roughed it and it worked out well. The second day, when we tried to shoot Raza and his men recovering the pieces of the Mark 1 suit, the winds were so violent, we couldn't really use any equipment.” The director continues, "We were almost swayed to go to cover set and not shoot, but cinematically it had such a great visual quality that if you wrote it into a script you could never really achieve those conditions artificially. With movies, you have to take advantage of those accidents and incorporate them whenever you can. So we put goggles on all the bad guys, and wrapped them with scarves and just let it play out. It looked like a wind-swept hell – a very haunting image.

Despite the miserable conditions, Downey was grateful for the opportunity he had been given. "I will never forget laying there buried halfalive in the middle of an intense sandstorm,” he says. "I could barely see out of the Iron Man helmet, but I felt this great moment of gratitude towards the elements and what a privilege it was to be playing Tony Stark with the caliber of people I was working with. I just said to myself, "Wow man, what a cool deal, what an amazing suit, what a great crew, what a blast!'”

While the first unit production team of "Iron Man” was being blasted by wind and sand, the second unit, a few miles away in the mountains, was forced to stop shooting when, astonishingly, it began snowing.

"We were shooting an enormous

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