Pirates of the Caribbean Posters
“Please Don't Feed Iguanas”: The Exumas, and L.A. Sojourn
By this point in production, the crew had become not unlike pirates themselves, albeit of a kinder, gentler nature. The Jolly Roger was proudly flown from many a production vehicle and support crafts, several crew members sprouted tattoos and sported pierced ears or noses, wore head scarves and bandanas, and several proudly wore silver or gold skull-and-crossbones rings especially designed by makeup artist Joel Harlow.
The Bahamas, in times past, had seen the likes of such legendary pirates as Henry Jennings, Henry Morgan, Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, Charles Vane, Stede Bonet, Captain Benjamin Hornigold, Woodes Rogers, “Calico Jack” Rackman, Captain John Wyatt, Thomas Austis, Henry Every, Richard Worley, Samuel Belamy and Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts. But The Bahamas hadn't seen nothin' yet…for it was about to receive a long visitation from Captain Jack Sparrow and company!
From Dominica, the “Dead Man's Chest” company flew to the Exumas, one of the southernmost chains in a pearly string of some 700 islands which comprise The Bahamas. “I think the Exumas were the most beautiful of all the islands,” says Jerry Bruckheimer. “It's got these white beaches and sand bars, gorgeous aquamarine water, just amazing to look at. When you see it on screen you won't believe it's real, you might think it was digitally created. But that's actually the way it is.”
Here, a sand spit of almost pink, fine sand called White Cay was discovered, serving as yet another location for the three-way swordfight and other sequences. White Cay was only accessible by water, so the company was required to drive southeast from the hotel zone and board one of many boats which brought them some 30 minutes later to a floating base camp comprised of two 200-foot barges, tethered together, on which one could find actors' trailers, equipment trucks, catering tent, tables and chairs, an entire floating base of operations.
From here, one had to travel in a small Carolina Skiff or shallow draft inflatable craft to make a wet beach landing on the cay. Gore Verbinski required 360 degree angles on the cay, hence the necessity of keeping it clear of trucks, vehicles and equipment. The company could only shoot in specific tidal conditions, which limited the number of hours available for filming. “What an organization that was,” recalls assistant director Peter Kohn, “for everybody to be able to have their breakfast burrito, get their equipment, load it onto another boat and then be transported to an island. You don't get experiences like that…it's just phenomenal.”
“Please do not feed the iguanas,” implored the call sheets while shooting on White Cay, so as to protect the friendly sole inhabitants and indigenous population from the affectionate attentions of the company. (The company called upon wildlife biologist Joseph A. Wasilewski, based in Homestead, Florida, to make certain the iguanas weren't disturbed.) Human and reptile respected each other's space, but the iguanas seemed as fascinated by the filming as the “Dead Man's Chest” company were by them.
The crew also received an unexpected visitation from another, somewhat more threatening creature while filming on White Cay. “A hundred yards from land a little nurse shark showed up,” recalls marine coordinator Dan Malone. “Most of the crew wasn't familiar with sharks, so they found it a little unnerving, but we told them `Don't worry about them, they're just curious. They'll swim by and check you out.' Production shut down for a minute while everyone focused on the shark, and then we got back to work.”
A scheduled Summer break in filming brought the company back to hearth and home in early June following the initial spate of shooting in the Exumas, resuming once again in early August back in Los Angeles. Back at the former Marineland site in Palos Verdes, Verbinski continued directing the Pelegosto island bone cage sequence, and this time, some of the stars-including Orlando Bloom, Kevin R. McNally, David Bailie and Martin Klebba-found themselves in a bone cage set loose from a 100-foot-tall crane, swinging freely in long, wide arcs. Bloom definitely enjoyed the ride, while some others were looking a bit green in the gills when emerging from their “A” ticket adventure.
“The bone cage sequence was crazy,” recalls Bloom. “The first time we dropped from the crane, nobody knew what to expect, and it was like a bungee jump feeling…your stomach completely leaves you. Believe me, moments like that will never be forgotten!”
Palos Verdes also saw the construction of a 100 foot long, 50-foot-high cliff wall, also used in the bone cage sequence, which was required to be maneuverable from a 90 degree angle down to a 45 degree angle. “We had to build a steel wall that's hinged,” explains Greg Callas, “and incredibly heavy. To make it work, I have two 160 ton cranes to move this wall from point A to point B, and then brace it off.”
Filmed at Disney Studios were sequences inside of Davy Jones' extraordinary Flying Dutchman captain's cabin. “Davy Jones' cabin certainly has a very operatic feel to it,” says Rick Heinrichs. “He plays an enormous pipe organ that we had to design and build from scratch. It plays as a normal organ would, but the pipes have grown fantastically into all of these underwater shapes, with steam coming out of them. The organ itself has shell and sea life textures, backed up to the window of the stern. We also designed a painting above the organ keys which has a weirdly sweet and romantic feel to it. That was intentional, because we were trying to give Davy Jones' character some pathos, because he's mourning the loss of a lost love.”