Juan Carlos Oganes' film-making and work blog.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Securing interior locations

When I was little, maybe not more than seven years old, my grandfather used to walk all around downtown and take me with him and that's how I learned of many awesome places in the historic district of Lima downtown.

One that called my attention a lot was the Parque Universitario (University Park). Back then in the late 70's, it used to be full of street beggars, improvised street commerce, pickpockets, and senior men sitting around concrete chess tables playing for hours and the usual onlookers surrounding them.
It was the end of the military government and the city was getting back on track with thing abolished by Velasco.

Next to the park was this beautiful, old but interesting building that was the original site of the San Marcos University (hence the name of the park) called La Casona de San Marcos.

I saw in awe all the old structures and building of what Lima used to be centuries ago and that shouted in a muted cry how ancient and valuable our peruvian history is.

Years later, back in 2007, I visited the park and building again. It was under reconstruction and refurbishing. Some of the places were not open to the public so I had to wait.

Now in 2009 it's all done and the park looks so beautiful and cleaner. No filthiness and pickpockets anymore. More appealing to the public and tourists.
What I like so much about the Casona is that it keeps its looks and feel of the older times. The peruvian republican times of the 1800's. The colors used are the same that were used in the late 18'th century and early 19th. The decoration, the wood structure, etc. It all blends perfectly and lends itself to be the perfect location I was looking for the interior shots of the Prefectura where Bolognesi was sending the letters to from Arica asking for help and support.

One room inside will also be the interior of the Bolognesi headquarters in Arica that is known as the Casa de la Respuesta.
I already talked with the Director of the Casona and he is very excited about my film and ready to offer help in whatever I need.

Things can't be more appealing to me now.
Seems like all the stars are aligning in my favor.

But still....need more uniforms and budget for that.
Only got 150 promised and still lacking 200 more.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Checking locations for the battle scenes

So, I went to the Morro Solar today.
The last time I went there was to do some HD camera tests last year and before that I did it way back in 1992.
This time I went all the way up to the top where the TV antennas are located. The driving to the top is a very steep, rocky and narrow dirt road that I wasn't prepared for but even when there was a straight-down abyss on one side, it was worth it....and necessary.

In my prior visit to the Historian Institute, I got a hold of some maps and topographic charts to study the terrain and choose beforehand what areas would be suitable for the battle scenes and that mimick the Arica mountain in Chile (that used to be our territory before we lost it). Shooting there would have been awesome but difficult nowadays for obvious political and territorial reasons.
So the best alternative at hand is the Morro Solar; it's here, it's close and it's very similar in shape and in height.
To help myself even further I checked with Google Earth. Awesome tool for previewing land and altitude of any place and from anywhere in the world.

In this pic, down in the beach below, I'll be placing digitally the city of Arica when seen from up above. Although the city is on the other side, t'll have to be flipped horizontally in post to make it happen as on the other side here it's the city of Lima.

Only one thing to keep in mind is that I'll have to plan my shots right, for in the opposite side I can see the TV antennas in frame. If there was another closer similar location it would be easier but, to transport hundreds of extras to play the soldiers, plus gas expenses, equipment and logistics, etc....the budget would skyrocket.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

War uniforms

Been a while since I posted any progress. Was trying to rest and get better on some physical stuff.
I finally went today to the other place where this ORG keeps the uniforms found on site. They scanned the whole terrain of the war zone with archeologists and metal detectors. Set a parameter and digged carefully and found not only the props and equipment from soldiers, but also their bodies and uniforms.

Shown here are some of the most known typical uniforms of the war. It's known that usually the colors chosen reflect the ones of each country's flag. Same thing here but the similitude I'm sure created some confusion that during the battle must have caused quite a stir and fatal errors in the craziness and adrenaline of the moment. Peruvian officers used the Prussian style of the era like this which I'm glad to have now at my disposal for the film. Here they are displayed on manequins so they can be appreciated at full:

Now, the peruvian soldiers mostly used creamy white uniforms with black shoes as you can see here (it is heavily dirty with soil and dried blood from the soldier):

Now this is the chilean soldier's uniform. Notice the similar colors with the peruvian officers (deep blue jacket and red pants). They didn't use high black boots though but khaki/brown colored ones.

The hats (kepis) will use the same shape of the Civil War soldiers; a flat foward-inclined top.

Now my next step is to do a walk-thru of the location I chose for the battle scenes: the Morro Solar by Chorrillos. Taking pics and studying maps to check the terrain and altitude beforehand.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Canons and rifles and guns...oh my!

Went today early morning to the Cuartel Barbones (Fort Barbones) which is an old fort near downtown which is mostly run by the army logistics office and is the place where most of the old weaponry and obsolete equipment goes for archiving and saving.

Asked for the ranking officer and was nice enought to attend me after the order from the General came in my name (usually it runs like that. Not leverage and you get nowhere) and told him about my plans for the film. I was hoping to find they had old rifles liek Chassepots and Comblain models there but they only had Mauser 98K series (which wasn't used in our war for that model was made around the 1920's). Asked him if he would be nice enough to show me one.
He did.

As much and as hard that I've looked around all forts, not enough quatity of the older models are to be found. The fort had around 60 Mausers at my disposal including the bayonets. Some were a bit faulty but, who cares? It can be fixed...although it adds up to the budget needed for it.
More sponsors would have to enter the game to reach the amount.
Also I was lucky enought o find three more canons of the late 1800's that work!
That adds more possibilites to the film.
Im smiling.
At least I got somewhere.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Meeting with historian

So I went today in the morning to another meeting with a war historian called Luis Guzmán at the Legión Cáceres Institute.

Met with two army generals and the historian. We shared some info I happened to gathered and cross-checked for any errors I might have slipped in my research.

Very interesting chat. Valuable hours of important info.

Tomorrow: my visit to the Barbones Fort where old and obsolete weaponry is kept. I have to check the number of rifles and bayonets they have there that could look the part (if not actually belong) to that 1880's era.