About The Production
"Shanghai Noon" marks the auspicious feature film directorial debut of Tom Dey (pronounced "Dye"). After establishing a successful career as a director of television commercials, Dey accepted the offer to helm Touchstone Pictures'/Spyglass Entertainment's comedy/action/adventure, "Shanghai Noon." "I was attracted to the script because of the scope of the picture as well as the originality of the story," the young director says. "From the first page of the screenplay it was visually very exciting with great possibilities for the characters."
For Dey, "Shanghai Noon" was an opportunity to create multiple worlds for the audience, including The Forbidden City in China, a Native American village, a Chinese railroad camp, a Western town and an old steam engine train, among others. "It is unusual to be able to combine all these different elements into one film," the director says. "The fact that the Old West was a place where cultures collided was another thing that attracted me to 'Shanghai Noon."'
Principal photography on "Shanghai Noon" began on location in the Calgary, Alberta area. After months of preparation and scouting, the production settled on several areas near the foothills of the Canadian Rockies including the famed Badlands area near Drumheller. The required locations included a Sioux Indian village and was shot on the banks of the Bow River on the Morley reservation, a small western town named Saddlerock and a Catholic mission. The Drumheller area doubled very convincingly for the Nevada desert. Hundreds of extras were auditioned and hired to play Native Americans, Chinese railroad workers,
townsfolk and gunslingers.
Director Dey set out with a very focused concept of what he intended to achieve with this film. "Visually, it was very important to me to paint as large a canvas as possible, as well as give the film a realistic look," he says. "Westerns are built on landscapes, and I tried to take advantage of the dramatic vistas Alberta has to offer. For interiors, my director of photography Dan Mindel and I talked a lot about keeping a very naturalistic look. This is not the norm for a comedy, but
I felt that a story as unbelievable as ours needed to be grounded in as real a setting as possible. The anamorphic (widescreen) format also gives the picture a big movie feel reminiscent of classic Westerns."
Production designer Peter Hampton tells what intrigued him about the script. "I thought it was a very interesting project from a design perspective because there is a touch of China, there are cowboys and American Indians, and the purpose for the characters' mission. There was a wide range of things for me to do. The movie is set around 1890, and in order to keep a film historically accurate you have to almost smell the atmosphere of the period. You have to have it a bit mucky."
Costume designer Joseph Porro explains his excitement about taking on "Shanghai Noon." "Dressing the Chinese Royal Court was the real lure for me because it's an opportunity that rarely comes up. I went to China and got every resource and book that I could find. I met with collectors and I looked in museums. It really is a serious costume picture and that made it more appealing for me.
"There was so much creativity. I got to do Chinese costumes, western wear, the brothel scene and the Native American clothes as well. There were all these different cultures together. The challenge was making it as authentic as possible."
Porro explains the detail necessary to ensure the authenticity 'All the Chinese clothing, including the Imperial Guard outfits, was made for the movie—there were no rentals. For one day in the Imperial court, it took us two months to prep. All of Lucy Liu's clothes were hand stitched, and it took about six weeks to make her d
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