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The Making of

Chapter 3: Production


On May 13, 1991 shooting began on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, in Almeria, Spain, the same location used for the tank chase in Last Crusade. Almeria was very famous in the European film industry since many of the so-called spaghetti westerns had been shot there, including The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Despite how attractive the site was the crew had a difficult time there because of the heat and the dust. The location would serve as Mexico for the pilot episode and it would mark the beginning of Young Indy’s adventures. It was there that Flanery discovered for the first time what meant to be part of the Indiana Jones epic.

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Flanery on Hurricane.

"There’ve been some scary moments," asserted the actor. "I guess the first scary moment I had was when we were shooting the Movie-of-the-Week, the Mexico episode, and I was doing a tracking shot. I was on a horse, Hurricane, the black horse that was Harrison Ford’s horse. He rode it in all the Indiana Jones movies. It’s really a famous horse. I’m at full-speed gallop behind this tracking vehicle, and I’m reaching out with my right hand, holding the reins with my left hand, trying to grab these dresses that one of Pancho Villa’s Villistas stole from a seamstress. So I’m chasing after them trying to get these dresses back and well, I got Hurricane a little too close to the back of the tracking vehicle. His hoof clipped the back bumper and his front hoof just went under his belly. He nosed down into the sand. I flew over his head, the tracking vehicle kept going, but it was really scary. I landed on my feet. Never even slid down, never got a scrape, but my heart was thumping."

The first episode of the Chronicles was set in England. England was the home of most of the production crew. Some of the scenes in the China episode and interiors from the Egyptian episode were shot in England as well.

From England the production traveled to Spain and Barcelona and from there to the exotic China and the Great Wall, completed in the third century B.C. and stretching over two thousand miles.

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Flanery with extras
in Africa.

Africa proved to be the most powerful experience for the cast and crew of the Chronicles. Filming took place in the Maasai Mora and in the Tana River. To facilitate the basic crew of twenty-five people, plus the local crew of sixty, the production had to create a town in the middle of the Tana River. They had to build their own roads, set up an efficient system for bringing in materials; they had to build a landing strip, dock for boats, and dams to prevent flooding from where they were. They had to set up a base camp, construction mill and bring in electricity. Also, they had to create their own water sanitation plants, their own toilets and everybody lived in tents for about eight weeks. The water’s volume made it hard to treat which resulted to salmonella poisoning, diarrhea and stomach cramps that posed many problems. Twelve people got seriously ill, it was very, very hot and everybody was drinking about six or seven pints a day. Plus, they were very close to the Somalia border, which at the time was in civil war, so they had to setup a security force with trenches and barbed wire. Flanery found himself in real jeopardy when his boat hit a sandbar and capsized on a very dangerous curve of the Tana River where there are usually fourteen or fifteen crocodiles. "The most challenging thing I had to do was swim down the Tana River in Africa and not die," remembered the actor. "There were no alligators, but there were crocodiles. The water’s the color of chocolate milk. It’s the most vile, disgusting, revolting fluid you’ve ever looked at, and I’m swimming in this stuff. The whole time everybody’s been talking about parasites in the water that can kill you in thirty seconds… the next I know, I’m under it. I’ve got a six-pound revolver around my waist in a holster. I’ve got leather gaiters, leather boots on, a big helmet strapped on my head, and I’m swimming down this river, thinking, ‘Oh my God, what bank am I gonna swim to? Which one looks like it has less trees or shrubbery? My heart’s going a hundred and sixty miles a minute, and then, finally, a boat came and picked me up!"

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Helping the cameraman.

From Africa the crew traveled to Prague, which at the time was the capital of Czechoslovakia, the country that was parted in two a few years later. During their seventeen weeks stay there the crew faced a climate the exact opposite of Africa. Due to it’s hard cold the food in Czechoslovakia was very heavy and there wasn’t a lot of choice. Vegetables were very rare. The production actually had to send a truck to Germany once a week to load up on vegetables because many crew members were getting vitamin deficiencies and gum disease. As McCallum himself said to The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles On the Set and Behind the Scenes book, "It’s amazing how sensitive and how spoiled Western stomachs are compared with the rest of the world." Although the country was in enormous financial problems the city of Prague voluntarily ripped up some of the streets and put back some of the original cobblestones in order to help the production capture some of the city’s past sense.

Soviet Union, Austria, France and Egypt came next. The last stop was Egypt with extraordinary heat. The temperature was a hundred and forty degrees every day in the middle of the desert.

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The crew on location
between takes.

Just like Indiana Jones most of the cast members had the chance to see the world. "I won’t forget all the wonderful places I went with this show," stated Margaret Tyzack. "I would say this is an actor’s dream come true!" Looking back at her filming on location in Egypt remembered the difficulty she had climbing on the ancient pyramids. "There was such an intense heat there at the pyramids, and they seemed to pulse with the midday sun. I was very surprised to see the height of each step of the pyramids. They’re very, very high. There’s no way you can think of them as steps! It wasn’t easy to climb them! And everything I had to do was in my Edwardian costume, which is very uncomfortable. That’s what women wore in that day."

While cast and crew were traveling the world a second unit crew was filming Old Indy’s short appearances, called bookends, at the former Carolco studios and on location in Wilmington, North Carolina.

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Lucas, McCallum
and crew.

Each episode of the Chronicles had a cost of $1.5 million and took up to three weeks to shoot, with Carrier’s taking a bit longer, in order to accommodate laws limiting the number of hours he could spent on the set. Beside his limited working schedule Carrier had to spend three hours a day studying. For this reason he was required to have a tutor throughout the production. Since all the members of the Carrier family were following the production, Corey’s mother, who was a certified schoolteacher, was assigned with the educative duties of her son.

Lucas visited the sets on location about every two or three weeks to meet personally with each of the director and managed to appear to almost all the locations. He tried to get on location in between episodes, so that when one director was finishing another was starting, hoping that he could deal with two directors at once.

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Flanery, Lucas and
McCallum on the set.

"The secret is hiring good people," said Lucas. "I work with the directors and get them to agree with what we want to do, and then they go out and do it. I show up periodically. Every few weeks I go out and check on everything, but the truth of it is, there’s nothing you can do even if you’re standing there. I mean, it’s the director’s medium, and he’s going to do what he wants to do. I have the opportunity, when it comes back here, to have a great deal of control over how it’s finished, which I think is also where quality comes into it, but I’m taking more time to finish these shows than most people spend on television. An extremely important part of quality filmmaking is the postproduction schedule, and we’re spending extra time and money on the postproduction schedule to make sure it comes out right."

McCallum worked closely with Lucas all through the production, even on location, talking with him four or five times a week. Together they made the important decisions that have to be made to keep the series running along on schedule.

Once shooting was finished the footage was sent back to Lucas in the States to cut and add special effects.

Next: Special Effects >>


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