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FOR GREATER GLORY

Historic Locations, Adventurous Production
The epic nature of FOR GREATER GLORY's story resulted in an equally epic production, one that would span seven Mexican states and spotlight stunning natural geography and historic cities rarely seen on film. It was the most ambitious homegrown production ever undertaken in Mexico, and this meant a lot to producer Pablo Barroso. "Mexico is such an amazing country," he comments. "It's not just the violent place that we often see today on the news -- and we had a chance to show audiences the beauty and soul of the country's many different landscapes."

In an early scouting trip, Barroso and Wright felt history come alive as they stood in some of the same places that Cristero fighters had made momentous decisions. "It was amazing for us to see the real places where these events happened," says Barroso. "We could see and feel and breathe the real Mexico of that time and that became an important part of the film - now the audience is pulled into this period of history." To accomplish this, the filmmakers started assembling what Wright calls "a world-class, A-plus team made up of the best of the best."

"Once we had our team," says Wright, "we set out across the expanse of Mexico, bringing horses, stuntmen, equipment and a whole troupe of cast and crew everywhere we went. It was a massive undertaking by any measure, but my motto was that 'nothing is impossible, it's just a challenge.'"

Fortunately, Wright had companions who were ready and willing to help him meet those challenges. "The one thing I've learned from the great directors I've had a chance to collaborate with is to never accept anything less than excellence from your crew. I believe in pushing people to the limits of possibility - but I think you do that by inspiring them," says Wright.

Wright had an especially close-knit relationship with versatile Mexican cinematographer Eduardo Martinez Solares, who has shot films around the world but was especially excited to showcase the lyrical beauty of Mexico. "We watched a lot of epic films - films like BRAVEHEART and ROAD TO PERDITION -- together. The visual approach was to allow the characters to emerge out of this sweeping imagery," says Wright.

Production moved from picturesque Durango in the northwest of the country to the mines and history-rich city of San Luis Potosi to the rocky wilderness of Sierra do Los Organos National Park in Zacatecas - where equipment and horses had to be hauled up rugged trails - to the enchanting mountain villages of Puebla, as well as shooting in the brand new Estudias Interlomas outside Mexico City. "We received phenomenal local support wherever we went," says Wright. "We used as many local craftspeople and cast as possible."

In each location, production designer Salvador Parra (whose films include Pedro Almodovar's Oscar®-nominated Spanish thriller VOLVER) turned back the hands of time to bring in lavish details of the 1920s. Among other feats, his team recreated entire towns out of history books and hand-crafted the production's own lavishly styled period train. His work meshed with the authentic yet romantic costume designs of the award-winning Mexican designer Maria Estela Fernandez. "Everything they did was beautifully crafted, historically atmospheric and very cinematic," sums up the director.

With so many days shooting out in the elements, conditions were often unpredictable. "We had days in the desert with scorpions and days in the mountains with mist and clouds," says Barroso. "Yet the weather was often helpful and just right for the scenes we were shooting."

For Andy Garcia, it all added up to an adventure he will never forget. "My experience was quite beautiful and memorable," he says, "especially seeing the camaraderie and level of commitment of the Mexican crews and the things they were willing to do - like carrying a giant crane up a treacherous incline, like something out of FITZCARRALDO, and doing it with no hesitation just in order to get a great shot."

This spirit continued into the editing room as the filmmakers had the opportunity to work with three-time Academy Award® nominated Richard Francis Bruce, known for work ranging from the drama of THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION to the chills of SEVEN to the magic of HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE. They were also gratified when Academy Award® winner and seven time Oscar® nominee James Horner signed on to add FOR GREATER GLORY to his remarkable roster of film scores.

"The irony is that, from the start, we always talked about the score for BRAVEHEART as an example of what we would love for this film then the very man who wrote that score came on board," muses Wright. "We had dreamed big, but we never imagined this would happen."

"We sent James the script, and we expected he would be too busy. Instead, we heard back that he was very interested," Wright recalls. "By our first meeting, he'd already read the script twice. He came in looking like a kid in a candy store and he said this is the kind of film he loves - the kind of big, lavish epic you rarely see in this era. We felt very lucky and blessed."

Adds Barroso: "The music is such an important part of a movie like this. We had great action, great locations, but to get James Horner was an amazing way to bring it all together. He watched the film and it seemed to go into his heart and his mind and he was very emotional about it. He's such a talented composer; with this score, he grabs your heart."

Horner's score became a kind of grace note to a production inspired by those men and women of any era who are willing to go up against the odds.

Summarizes Barroso: "In the end, everything exceeded my expectations - the performances, the locations and sets, the photography and costumes, all the way up to the score and the editing; they all really bring the era and the story to life, I think the final film allows the audience to truly feel what these people went through and, most importantly, reminds us of the power of sacrificing yourself to a higher cause."

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