The New York Times reports that director Doug Liman has been granted unprecedented access to film scenes in Rome's Colosseum:
No props. No lights. Not even a video cart was permitted to touch the ground. But Mr. Liman, his actors and a small crew from the science fiction thriller Jumper -- granted unprecedented access even to the amphitheater's labyrinthine guts, where gladiators and doomed beasts once waited -- were to shoot their pivotal love scene on a stage that still belongs more to the dead than the living.
Mr. Liman's Roman moment was just one stop for an unusually peripatetic film whose locations include Paris, China, Egypt, the Sahara, Toronto, New York, Michigan and Tokyo. Scheduled for release by 20th Century Fox in the spring of 2008, Jumper is based on the Steven Gould novel about a young man who learns that he has the power of teleportation.
Rome's bureaucrats remain protective when it comes to the Colosseum, the most imposing of the city's ancient landmarks. Only a few films have had access to the stadium -- even Ridley Scott's Gladiator settled for a re- creation built in Malta. "They certainly don't rent it out cavalierly," said Lucas Foster, one of the producers of Jumper. The red tape included months of personal appeals and back-and-forth correspondence about his vision for the film.
An employee of the Rome Film Commission, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, said hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees had changed hands. Mr. Lucas declined to discuss figures. "It was never about the money," he said. "It came down to respect. And I wouldn't film a sex scene or do something that could embarrass Italy."
With access came stipulations. For three days, the crew could work from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., then for another two hours from 3:30 p.m. until dusk. When time expired, they had to clear out immediately without disturbing the thousands of other daily visitors to the Colosseum. To avoid putting anything on the ground, the sound crew wore harnesses. Lighting was limited to the Mediterranean sun.
"It's by far the most stressful environment I've ever filmed in, because you can never go back," he added. "You have to get it right and this is a critical scene in the performance point of view and it flies a little contrary to my style of filmmaking. I like to shoot and reshoot."
Based on the Steven Gould novel, Jumper follows a young man (Hayden Christensen) from a broken home who discovers that he has the ability to teleport. In his quest for the man he believes is responsible for the death of his mother, the kid draws the attention of the National Security Agency and another youth with the same abilities. Samuel L. Jackson also stars.
The movie is expected to be released in 2008.