THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE NEW ORLEANS:
Production of DÉJÀ VU was set to begin in Fall of 2005 amidst the watery beauty and inimitably soulful atmosphere of New Orleans. But in August of 2005, the unprecedented power of Hurricane Katrina struck, devastating the city and rocking the nation. While recovery efforts began, the film was put on indefinite hold. At first Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott considered looking elsewhere in the United States for an appropriate location. But they both agreed: from the unique architecture of the French Quarter to the funky swamps of the bayou, there was simply no other place on earth like New Orleans. And it seemed that now New Orleans needed people to stand by it more than ever.
“I was already in love with New Orleans, having made several films here,” says Bruckheimer. “Tony had never been there before, but he too fell in love with the all the French and Spanish influences. The city has a distinct culture that is unforgettable, and Tony and I both knew this was right for the story of DEJA VU. New Orleans deservedly became a character in the film.“
Unable to give up the dream of shooting in the city, the filmmakers stayed in close contact with the New Orleans Film Commission as recovery efforts progressed, hoping a time would soon come when they could safely return. By early 2006, the city had begun to rebuild its infrastructure, and the production of DÉJÀ VU didn’t waste a second, becoming the very first film to start shooting in New Orleans post-Katrina – and setting an example for other productions that New Orleans was open again for filming.
Continues director Tony Scott, “We had adapted the DÉJÀ VU script to take place in some of the most interesting New Orleans locations and show the incredible landscape through the story’s car chases and ferry sequences. DÉJÀ VU is set against a city in a time warp, a beautiful time warp, much like New Orleans.”
The New Orleans locals were especially supportive of DÉJÀ VU bringing the excitement of the movies back to their city. ”While filming on the streets of New Orleans, everyday locals would come up to me and thank us for bringing this film here, for helping us revitalize their city in need,,” recalls Bruckheimer. “Tony and I, and the cast and crew felt extremely proud to be part of the rebirth of the city and the return of the film industry there.”
Besides providing job opportunities and priming the local economy, DÉJÀ VU also left its mark behind in subtler ways. When shooting at night on the ferry at Algiers, the art department had to put up additional lighting on the Mississippi Bridge to be able to see the New Orleans skyline in its glory. Many locals commented that the bridge never looked so good since Katrina.
Key to the mystery and action in DÉJÀ VU is the shattering ferry blast that kicks off Doug Carlin’s investigation. So once in New Orleans, the filmmakers leased the Alvin Stumpf Ferry, a massive, 225-foot long, 75-foot wide, 50-foot high boat that typically runs between the Canal Street and Algiers ferry landing on the Mississippi River.
The aftermath of the deadly explosion was equally complex to capture, with key action moments filmed in the Turning Basin of the Mississippi River. Additional elements of the ferry sequence aftermath were shot in the calmer waters of a giant tank on a soundstage. Here the filmmakers and the stunt crew had complete control over the elements as they sank cars and shot the principal actors in action with underwater cameras.
Says Bruckheimer, “It was really something to see 20 stunt people jump from the ferry at different levels -- some from as high as 25 feet. Several of the stunt people lit themselves on fire before jumping. It looked so realistic it was incredible.”