Juan Carlos Oganes' film-making and work blog.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tacna and the Alto del Alianza battle scenes: pre-production.

After a long hiatus do to health problems I can finally post here. It's been a while already. So much to update and much to catch up with with my film.

First of all, it was nice to go back like a month and something ago to the Rimac location to shot some pick-up scenes for the Alto del Alianza battle. It introduced the character Mariano Santos and had to watch other shots of the same battle that I filmed in 2011 mid-year in order to have the same rhythm, pace and framing direction so things match in perspective and continuity.

We were supposed to have cavalry on the last day scenes. Visited the Police Potao regiment and they kindly agreed. Just the permission from the Ministry of Interior didn't come in time so I had to drop that possibility. It was simply too slow.

I have almost finished with all army character actor's scenes but a couple due to be filmed in Tacna.
Tacna scenes have been in hold and saved for last as it involves not only lots of logistical coordinations but also a lot of expenses. While in bed, thinking a lot about those factors, realized that it was gonna be a huge expense just for one scene that I was supposed to film there: the Chilean soldiers boarding of weapons and supplies at the train station that still existing nowadays.

I used to live near Tacna and in Locumba when little and it was in those places where the attraction and deep interest for this war topic began. It was 30 years ago when watching that TV series done by the Ministry of Education and the Government for the 100th anniversary of the war back in 1979. Never missed an episode. Besides, Tacna and Locumba hold a special place in my heart for I passed the best years of my childhood there.

The old train station still exists there and opened in 1857. It keeps the looks and feel of the era and much of the locomotives and wagons keep their 19th century decorations. When the Chileans won the Alto del Alianza battle, they sieged Tacna and boarded on this train to go down to Arica where the last Peruvian battalions were. That scene was the only one I wrote on the script to be filmed in Tacna. Back to those thoughts while in bed: The scenes is a very simple one where you see like a hundred or so chilean soldiers mounting weapons and stuff on the train while colonel Pedro Lagos directs them and talks to them. That was all. I thought to myself it was gonna be a huge expense just for that scene. I had to take advantage of much more in Tacna to make that expense worth.

I've always thought a script -no matter how well written- its also a guide that could be improvised on and could be changed a bit or have some add-ons implemented in order to make it better or embellish it. Theres so much one can imagine while sitting in a computer writing compared to the moment you are actually filming. You become aware that there might be more possible things that one thought impossible...so, I went ahead and re-wrote some scenes.

The Alto del Alianza battle is the one that will open the film and I want it to be huge (as it actually was), and we have already shot scenes at Rimac, Ancon and lately Cruz de Hueso in the San Bartolo deserts. Much of it is fine but I think filming additional ones in the real scenario where it happened would be such a plus and such a dream come true that it had to happen for me, so I had meetings and talks with government people explaining the reasons and mission of my film and after a few days I was finally granted the permission to film at the Alto del Alianza deserts. The real scenario for a battle im portraying that happened there 132 years ago. It's like getting permission to film in the sacred fields of Gettysburg and recreate that same battle with huge amounts of extras right there!! That's exactly what is going on :)    Also, apart from filming at the old train station, coordinated to shot some scenes at the former Hospicio station mid-way to Arica and a few kilometers away from the border to Chile. That old little station was already destroyed by the last earthquake a few years back and took away what was left of it. The train never stopped there anymore but did back in the 80's. Now it's just rumble. The interiors and exteriors of that station will be shot in Matucana and the mountains and trees digitally erased and composite over the desert landscape around Hospicio. Here, back in late May 1880, Baquedano ordered 50 Carabineros de Yungay to check on the rail tracks to see if peruvian forces had them destroyed in order to stop them. There was some shooting in this little station when they got near with a railroad handcar (or pump trolley). There has been some internal issues with the management of the station that has stopped its service for half a year now and the tracks are not being kept in maintenance so in order to do this, I have to hire a specialist to clean the tracks from sand, soil, garbage and other stuff that can cause de-railing. Not an easy task.

Alto del Alianza museum. Gorgeous construction and design.

Still.....very excited to be able to shoot where that historical fact actually happened!

Now, getting ready to film in Tacna in a couple weeks and will have to take all my equipment and wardrobe there. 415 extras and 20 horses. Amazing days to come! :)  Health....get better for me!

Pick up battle scenes for the Alto del Alianza. They are close range.
More pick-up scenes.
The Sama valley from Buena Vista town where chileans camped.
View of the Tacna train station from the clock tower.
The clock at the tower still works!
Checking the rails near Hospicio a few kms. from the chilean border.
Checking the rails near Hospicio.
Explaining the station guy how the scene will be.
Inside one of the wagons. Looks awesome.
One of the Locomotives to be used for my film.
Found my railroad handcar!!
The train station workshop.
Alto del Alianza gravesite.
The cross at the Alto del Alianza site museum.
Inside the museum at the Alto del Alianza.
Soldier items found onsite.
Alto del Alianza museum. Isn't it beautiful?
Walking the deserts of the battle site at Alto del Alianza.
Will be magic filming something that actually happened here 132 years ago.
The rumbles of the former Hospicio train station.
The trademark desert plants here. They are everywhere.
The rails at Hospicio.
Tacna-Arica train.
The train station entrance.
Simply beautiful. A work of art. I so love old trains!
The Alto del Alianza battle site. Far back: the museum.