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Getting The Real Story
Production on Fair Game began in April 2009, shooting on location in Washington, D.C., New York City, on Long Island at the Marshall Field Estate, and in Westchester County in New York. The film company went international for shoots in Cairo, Amman and Kuala Lumpur for a series of scenes depicting Valerie at work as an undercover officer, and Joe on his research mission in Niger.

In Jordan, with immense cooperation from that country's military, Liman was able to film a scene that involved a Black Hawk helicopter flying at extremely low altitude along Amman's main boulevard. In Cairo, scenes scheduled to be shot at the city's university had to be postponed and then rescheduled because they coincided with the day that President Obama gave his famous speech at Cairo University addressing the Muslim world.

But it was filming in Iraq that presented Liman with the biggest challenge. "We were the first American film company ever to shoot a non-documentary feature in Baghdad,” says Liman. "It was nerve-wracking, but working in such a volatile, turbulent location was essential to the nature of the film.”

The director and a production executive flew to Baghdad for 24 hours. There they were met by Iraqi filmmaker Oday Al-Rashed and a security detail armed with automatic rifles. Wearing bullet proof vests, Liman and Al-Rashed filmed at the former Saddam Hussein International Airport, on bridges crossing the Tigris River, at an abandoned mosque and at several buildings that had been bombarded by U.S. missiles.

"No matter where we were, there was never a margin of error,” he says. "I had to get the scene we were shooting on that particular day because if I didn't, tomorrow would be too late. Tomorrow we'd be in a different country. We had no Plan B except that that the movie wouldn't be as good.”

Back in the States, the filmmakers took up residence in a sprawling former IBM office complex in White Plains, New York, that had been transformed into the offices of the Central Intelligence Agency by production designer Jess Gonchor.

"I decided to go even further with realism than I did with The Bourne Identity,” Liman says. "In this film, there would be no super-secret gadgets or satellites that can see through walls or anything like that. We've all been in government offices. We know the technology there is anything but cutting edge. The Bourne Identity exaggerated things, but here the technology was 100 percent accurate.”

The filmmaker even borrowed one of the CIA's criteria for intelligence gathering to ensure the film's technical authenticity. "Every technical detail of what we filmed was confirmed by at least two sources, even something as small as the floor plan of Valerie's office,” Liman says. "This was especially important as our subject was CIA covert operations.”

Valerie herself, in compliance with her sworn secrecy agreement with CIA, was able to provide useful information to the filmmakers and actors and spent several weeks on set during the shoot. She says, "Most of the time, when I see a film about the CIA, I find what I'm watching has little to do with reality. In this film, everything looks just as does in real life, including what's appearing on computer screens and the maps hanging on the walls. Doug Liman and everyone around him were so concerned with making everything in the film as technically accurate as possible.”

Watts even trained with intelligence and special military operatives that replicated the grueling training regime CIA operatives undergo at Camp Peary, the CIA facility known as "the Farm.”

Liman, whose father Arthur was counsel for the United States Senate during the Iran- Contra hearings, says he thought frequently during the production of a remark by Justice Louis Brandeis that his father often quoted: "‘Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.' I went into this film very much with idea of truth in mind. I felt my father's presence on the set every day in each aspect of development and creativity down to the smallest detail. I wanted everything to be completely accurate.

"What I'd like people to take away from Fair Game,” he adds, "is a feeling of hope. I want the audience to love and respect Valerie and Joe as much as I do.”


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