WB Morgan Creek Press
Production Notes I
Once out on location in Morocco, the actors would regularly make the
trek to the rectory of a nearby Franciscan priest, notebook in hand. His
contributions were invaluable - the issue is quite complex, as customs
vary from region to region and change with the passing of time. The
story is set in 1947 in the specific locale of British East Africa, and
Francis and Merrin are from separate religious orders, which means that
myriad practices and attitudes would have separated the two, right down
to the manner in which they'd join their hands in prayer.
Asked if he approached his work in a horror film such as Dominion
any differently than in his other performances, Skarsgård
says, "The horror is created by the director and the editor in the way
they shoot and edit it respectively. What you have to do as an actor is
to stay as alive and real as possible. There are horrible things
happening in the movie and you have to react to all those things."
"While working you mustn't think this is a horror film,'" agrees Bellar.
"You just have to make yourself believe the circumstances and let them
affect you. You certainly can't say to yourself scary moment here, this
is where I'll frighten audiences' All I can do is hope to get it right
and that it does cause chills."
Dominion Prequel to the Exorcist was shot on location against the
striking backdrop of the Moroccan desert, as well as at the famed
Cinecitta Studios in Rome. Prior to filming,
co-producers Wayne Morris and Art Schaefer had set off on a far-flung
location search that took them halfway around the world.
The film was shot on location against the striking backdrop of the Moroccan
desert, as well as at the famed Cinecitta
Studios in Rome. Prior to filming, co-producers Wayne Morris and Art
Schaefer had set off on a far-flung location search that took them
halfway around the world.
"We went to Ouarzazate in the south," recalls Morris,
"to this oasis outside the city where there were giant black granite
rocks set against lush vegetation. But the most promising site was just
outside Marrakech, where we found geological formations that were really
evil looking, jutting up at odd angles - very menacing. And that's what
ended up being the definitive main location."
Weather considerations determined that six weeks of shooting exteriors
in Morocco would precede the interior shooting at Cinecitta. The idea
was to do all the outdoor sets before Christmas while the weather was
cool enough for shooting and before Morocco's rainy season set in, then
break for Christmas before resuming filming in Italy.
Two-time Academy Award nominee John Graysmark, whose prior work includes
the films Courage Under Fire, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
and Gorillas in the Mist, served as the film's production
designer. Working from the script and from conversations he had with
Schrader, Graysmark came up with ambitious designs for key sets in
These location sets included the Village of Derati, conceived as a
once-busy mining town built near an oasis, now fallen on hard times; the
archaeological dig from which the buried church protrudes, partially
uncovered; Dr. Rachel's hospital, where Cheche begins his miraculous
recovery; the interior of the mission school that Father Francis sets up
for the children of the village; the Turkana settlement where the tribe
lives; and the interior of Merrin's room.
Meanwhile, back in Rome, art director Stefano Ortolani, working under
Graysmark's direction from abroad, was busily prepping the three main
sets they'd be utilizing for the Studio shoot - the Dutch village, circa
1944, the interior of the excavated church, and the vast chamber beneath
"We modified the chamber considerably from what was originally conceived
as a crypt," says Ortolani. "This is a place where 2,000 years ago they
would have had satanic rituals, so we wanted to make it as creepy as
possible. We designed it with a sacrificial altar, grotesque statues of
the devil, horrible death masks and skulls embedded in the walls."
Vittorio Storaro, the great Italian cinematographer and three-time Oscar
winner for Reds, Apocalypse Now and The Last Emperor,
contributed rich, atmospheric photography. Golden exterior shots of the
Moroccan desert are contrasted by the intense colors and striking play
of light that make the scenes within the satanic lower chamber so
sinister. A strangely beautiful light pouring from a window in the
church above evokes a feeling of grace in the midst of the swirling