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G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA

From Iconography To Imagery
A cast this size is a clear indicator of the sheer magnitude of "G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra.” Stephen Sommers' films are typically bursting at the seams, but "JOE” represented a formidable project for even the heartiest of production teams. Over an 82-day shoot, the crew worked 160-plus sets and set pieces that were designed and built on stages in the L.A. suburb of Downey and other locations throughout the city as well as on location and on stages in Prague. In all, 25 different locations were scouted, designed, built, dressed and shot. That included an around-the-world trip of location shooting any traveler would envy – France, Norway, the Czech Republic and North America. Paris provided the iconic landmarks, while Prague offered streets with slightly fewer challenges for a production seeking to film a high-speed chase through the French city. The chilly climes of Norway mimicked the North Pole. A Fort Worth, Texas armed forces base and Downey's former aerospace-facility-turned-film-studio (that was once home to the Space Shuttle) provided ample military locations.

It wasn't enough that Sommers and his filmmaking team were bringing one of the most-loved comic-and-action figures to life, they did so under an absurdly compressed timetable. While such action-heavy fantasy films typically have anywhere from 24 to 30 weeks to prep production, "G.I. JOE” had a total of 12 weeks of prep, allowing the production to begin filming immediately after the end of the WGA strike in Los Angeles in February 2008.

"Every department was so crazed, every single department was trying to get everything up to speed and they really did amazingly,” says producer Bob Ducsay. 

"Prep on a movie like this would normally be six, seven, eight months. We did it in three.” It wasn't just a matter of building sets and finding locations. "This is a manufacture movie,” comments co-producer and unit production manager JoAnn Perritano. "That means we're making the props; we're making the costumes. It's not like we can just go and buy stuff off the racks. Every actor had to be body-scanned to make specifically unique costumes built just for them.”

All the more impressive is the fact that the production finished two days ahead of schedule. "That's positively remarkable,” declares executive producer David Womark. "That shortened prep time wasn't enough time to do a movie half this size. A lot of that is a testament to Stephen's creative decisiveness. He really had a good handle on the story and the characters and, logistically, we came up with a good plan that helped him along.”

The tight schedule created a pressurized environment for the production. "It made everything really crazy. We were making decisions so fast, one on top of the other. It was like a pressure cooker. It made everybody stay on top of their game. 

Sommers and his producers procured the finest in behind-the-scenes talent to meet the many time-and-craft challenges "G.I. JOE” posed, including producer/editor Bob Ducsay, executive producers David Womark, Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Erik Howsam; cinematographer Mitchell Amundsen, whose work on TRANSFORMERS gave him a unique understanding of the subject material; production designer Ed Verreaux; editor Jim May; costume designer Ellen Mirojnick; special effects supervisor Daniel Sudick, whose "explosive” resume looks like a Who's Who of the biggest action pictures of the last decade; second-unit director Greg Michael; stunt coordinator R.A. Rondell; and visual effects supervisor Boyd Shermis, along with a veritable platoon of other film craftsmen at the top of their fields.

Bob Ducsay and Greg Michael hold unique positions on the team, having known and worked with Sommers since his earliest days in film. "We started our careers together, so it's just amazing to be out here doing it again,” says Ducsay. The two met while Ducsay was a tea

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