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About The Production
Principal photography began in Savannah, Georgia on Wednesday, July 15, 1998

Principal photography began in Savannah, Georgia on Wednesday, July 15, 1998.

The first lines of the script are expository description: palpable heat. And where else to find such oppressive, hot, wet, thick weather but the deep South. The filmmakers scouted Atlanta, Charleston and even thought briefly of using the Presidio in San Francisco. But when co-producer Stratton Leopold suggested his hometown of Savannah, Neufeld and West were happy to oblige having admired the city's beauty in a variety of films over the years.

"We wanted to film the exteriors in the southern states," says Leopold. "I immediately thought of my home town. As coincidence would have it, there's a university there, Savannah State, that has always impressed me as having a military look. For as long as I can remember, everything about it -- the crenellated roofs, the architecture -- spoke military to me. So I phoned friends to ask them to send photos.

"The downtown area dates from the late 1700s and early 1800s. Architectural structures like those in Savannah and the brick streets would be extremely costly to build in Hollywood. The foliage, the oak trees with the moss, the marshes, the rivers and the like are virtually impossible to find in Los Angeles."

"The only reason I choose a location is the look," explains West. "I decide whether the location is going to look good on film and help me tell a story visually without having to explain anything in dialogue. Savannah had the most varied and interesting look.

"This is an ominous, Southern gothic," he continues. "The feeling is sinister and dark which includes the locations and the weather. We're in an extremely strict, old fashioned world of rules with a rigid code of conduct where all the characters have something to hide. It's hot and steamy and sticky - all those things together make for a brooding piece."

The crew began the shoot at the Myrtle Grove Plantation in Richmond Hill which stood in for the General's house and then moved on to shoot the formal entrance gates of the fictitious Fort MacCallum at a historical site called Wormsloe. Other locations included the Laurel Grove Cemetery; a popular local restaurant called the Crab Shack and the Tybee Island Historical Society Lighthouse on Tybee Island; the now-closed ocean side Sheraton Resort; East Broad Elementary School; as well as several private homes and one of the quaint downtown parks, Madison Square. The company utilized the grounds of Savannah State University to represent much of Fort MacCallum, repairing and repainting many of the building facades, redesigning much of the landscape and essentially restoring a portion of the beautiful campus. The Oatland Island Educational Center was also used to represent Fort MacCallum.

Production designer Dennis Washington and director of photography Peter Menzies, Jr. worked in concert with West to design the ominous look of the film. Because the film takes place almost entirely on an Army base, these craftsmen had to devise an interesting presentation for the story.

"Most movies that take place on an Army base are so boring, I can't stand it," says Washington. "I was so happy that Simon wanted to give ours a historic sense and try to create a kind of fort that had a rich, traditional quality -- one that gives a sense of power. We had to create everything ourselves, manufacture a historic base with modern facilities built around it. We used every excuse we could to use the old southern archite


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