Austin American-Statesman film writer Chris Garcia recalls the afternoon recently, when filmmaker (plus, personal favorite of mine) Michael Winterbottom and his crew utilized the Statesman newsroom to double for the Asia bureau of The Wall Street Journal. This was all part of the brief Austin shoot for Winterbottom’s A Mighty Heart, starring Angelina Jolie as the widow of slain reporter Daniel Pearl. There was no Jolie that day (apparently her scene would be done at a local house), but Garcia goes into great detail about what happened during that several-hour stretch, and why Garcia himself declined to be an extra unlike some of his fellow journalists. From his story:
Winterbottom, 46, is a slight, disarming man with weak posture. He wore headphones around his neck, a black shirt and chocolate brown chinos, and had the agreeable manner of a pleased visitor. As we talked, he was prone to giggles. Asked why he was filming in Austin, Winterbottom said, “Obviously, a lot of film gets made here, so it’s a good place to come. It has a reputation for independent film and it has good crews.”
He nervously asked about for his coat while the crew packed up equipment, which remarkably did not include lights, though the cameraman ordered all the window blinds opened.
“No lighting,” Winterbottom said. “I wanted it to look like what it is,” a newsroom, adding that ours was “the best match for The Wall Street Journal.”
It was a quick shoot here. Three hours, one scene captured from several angles. No lights, small crew. In and out. It felt slightly like what’s called a guerrilla shoot.
“Well, no, this is quite organized by my standards,” Winterbottom said. “Usually we’re much smaller than this.”