“Why did you shoot in Savannah?”

We had to duplicate Washington in 1865 and we certainly couldn’t afford to build it.  We scouted all up and down the eastern seaboard and found Savannah to be the best option.   It has that old center part of town that has been pretty well retained and preserved.  The buildings look the way they did in the 1800s.  So we could use the buildings–we just had to cover all the streets with dirt and mulch. Everything was muddy, because there were carriages and horses and no pavement.  Remember, Washington didn’t look anything like it does today. There was the Capital but the Washington Monument was only a quarter built and most of the city was fields, where cows and animals strayed.  Our production designer, Kalina Ivanov, who worked with me on Quiz Show, she probably had the toughest job of all and I think the film will speak for itself in terms of her skill.

Robert Redford

About Robert Redford

Director Robert Redford offers his insight into the talent, themes, and making of The Conspirator, now in theaters (April 15).
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10 Responses to “Why did you shoot in Savannah?”

  1. Bonnie M. Cummings says:

    Kalina’s work is always so authentic and inspiring with every film she is a part of…
    I can’t wait to see all that she has helped to create for the Conspirator! Congratulations to the entire Team!

    • MIKE THE MOVER says:

      Mr. Redford. I met you at Ft. Pulaski in Nov. 2009, but had no idea that the individual who inquired, ” would like to be in a movie” was you. My apoligies.
      As you may recall, I was headed to Gettysburg for the Rememberance Day Parade and declined your offer of $500/per day, and $500/per word, if asked to speak. Quite frankly, I almost fainted when I saw your movie trailer of ‘Conspiritor’ and the Pulaski scenes. If you are interested in more CW movie type materials, I have written a ‘true’ compelling story concerning the Confederate retreat from Appomattox, the dispensation of the Confederate Treasury, ‘maps of the mineral fields’, and the birth of the industrial revolution. In all, an untold story, that rivals ‘GONE WITH THE WIND’. If you thought I looked the part for ‘Conspiritor’ just wait to you read “ECHO’S FROM LOCH WILLOW”. Hey, I just want to be in the movie. MTM.

  2. mt says:

    Why isn’t this film opening near Mary Suratt’s house in Southern Maryland? It’s appalling that a story of Southern Maryland and Washington, DC, is totally disregarded when choosing one of the opening venues by the motion picture industry. People in Southern Maryland drive by both the Suratt House, Dr. Mudd’s house and Zekiah Swamp every single day. It should have been shown in at least one theater in Charles County, Maryland, where the conspiracy allegedly happened. I guess everyone will have to just catch it on Netflix since the distance factor is an issue.

    • Laurie Verge says:

      Thank you for saying that mt. As director of the Surratt House Museum, I would certainly love to see it in our own backyard. However, I understand that The American Film Company, as producer, does not make the distribution decisions. Which theaters will take it is determined by the marketing of a separate distribution company – in this case, Roadside Attractions. Hopefully their rep is keeping up with this blog.

      If it is any consolation, I have seen it twice: once at a pre-screening at the Motion Pictures of America Association in D.C. and again at the premiere at Ford’s Theatre on April 10. And enjoyed it both times. However, I have a 10-year-old grandson that wants to see it. He lives in Charles County, but I will have to drive almost an hour to get to the closest theater that is showing it.

  3. Bob Townsend says:

    I’m from Charleston, SC and wouldn’t it have been ironic to shoot it here in the heart of the seccessionist movement. Where it all began, so to speak. What’s done is done and Savannah is a beautiful city so I can’t wait to see the movie.

  4. Tony B says:

    I was wondering about the fort sets. I know it was filmed in Georgia, but which fort was used? Had you considered Fort McHenry in Baltimore? Great Movie! I saw it today. Thnx, Tony B

    • Laurie Verge says:

      The prison scenes were done at Fort Pulaski. The moat made it seem like Ft. Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, where the other four conspirators were sent. I’m sure that the NPS would not approve of filling the moat, however, to get it to look more like the actual scene.

      The actual trial took place at the Old Washington Penitentiary on the grounds of the Washington Arsenal. All that remains today is a small portion of the original penitentiary on the grounds of Fort Lesley J. McNair in southwest Washington. Tennis courts now stand where the gallows were.

  5. Becky freeman says:

    I am curious about the fabric used for costumes. Were special precautions taken to make the costumes cooler and more comfortable since layering clothing was involved?

    • T.Cox says:

      I sew civil wars costumes, most all cottons and layers r the same now as before unless you cheat on layers to be cooler. Historically, you wear a chamise(a knee lenth scoopneck, short sleeved underdress), a corset depending on yr what style, pantaloons or perticoat(depending on yrs also) winter you can wear up to 4 more peticoats for color, “sound”(they liked the russle of taffida to sound sexy), and warmth. a hoop(again different hoops 2-6 and whiths) an overskirt, the dress, if 2 piece, top & bottom, unless you wear just a cotton or gauze blouse(the qauze was the coolest(I know!)) and skirt around the home, you “dress up to leave the house, the top of a dress outfit(a dressuit of today)has sleeves you add under bellsleeves or the style of sleeve that yr(a kind of cotton sheath w/ elastic on both ends so you may have several colors to expand your wardrobe considering most woman had only 2 daydresses and an “outting dress per season”but again, they had many ways to add variety to that outfit. They has jabots, like dickies, that pined to the front of a blouse, belts, gloves, brooches(even those could be chanded daily, some were just upright cones that different flowers could be put in) bonnets, ect. I wasnt easy to be “cool in the hotest of weather in the south w/ out being modest. They did usually didnt have BBQ’s until afternoon, early evening. “Gone w/ the Wind” is very true to ettiquiette, in the south.

  6. Jude Garrett says:

    We just saw the film and loved it. I especially loved the lighting in many of the scenes as it appeared almost translucent. It added to the mood of the film and the time period.
    We have experienced the JWB escape route that is given by the Surratt Society (a must for anyone interested in the Civil War) and the film was accurate and true to most points. Again, thanks Mr. Redford for a riveting and true account of the subject. For any dissenters, check out the book called The Trail by Edward Steers Jr., it is available at the Surratt House Museum.

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