I have always loved espionage movies. The daring protagonists are thrown into a chaotic situation while the fate of the world depends on them; the urgency of their actions makes the whole thing an exciting affair. But that is not the only reason that has brought secret agent in the top-five of my professions wish-list! I am also motivated by the sheer extent of travelling that this work promises. Be it the snow-clad mountains of the Alps or the bustling streets of Rome, from the sunny streets of Mexico to the wintry charm of Moscow, spies get to travel all over the world.
Amazon Video’s ‘Jack Ryan’ series, which is based on the novels by Tom Clancy, also delivers on some great backdrops, which become the scene of action for the characters racing against the clock to save the world from a terror threat. The first season of the series begins in the initial years of Jack Ryan in the CIA, when he is still learning the ropes. He chases a rising terror threat located in Yemen, and follows the trail of this terrorist group’s deadly actions from Paris to Syria. There are a lot of helicopter rides for Ryan, and by the end of season one, he has developed a taste for them. The beautiful vistas of ‘Jack Ryan’ make you want to pack your bags and book a flight. But before you do that, you must know how the production team managed to pull off a series of this scale, how hard they had to work to scout and secure locations for the shoot, and most importantly, where is the series actually filmed.
Jack Ryan works as an analyst, which means working behind the desk. But he is unexpectedly pulled out into the field and has to go back and forth from Washington DC to parts of Europe and Asia. The story gives us the locations of Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Paris and Liberia, among others. With so many settings for the show, it was important to find locations that could not only serve the limited budget of the project but also provide authentic backgrounds for shooting the scenes.
Washington DC and Montreal
Washington DC and Montreal served as locations for the American backgrounds. Some shots in DC were shot in Georgetown University and Potomac Boat Club. However, this doesn’t mean that all the scenes were shot in the places where they are shown to be in the series. For example, the subway scene, where Jack runs after Suleiman and finally kills him is not in the DC metro. Due to the restrictions placed on using the real location for filming purposes, it was actually shot in Montreal metro. Similarly, Quebec also served as the location for various scenes.
Shooting in the US and Canada was easier. The real challenge came with foreign locations. A lot of the series focuses on the events taking place in Yemen and Syria, with the storyline stretching to Iraq and Turkey. It was extremely important to find a suitable location that could give them the freedom to use it for multiple backgrounds and, in the end, they settled on Morocco. Various locales in the country were used as stand-ins for the countries depicted in the series. Marrakesh was the primary location, but cities of Essaouira and El Jadida were also used to create the look of other Middle Eastern countries. The scene where Ali sketches, with the array of beautiful blue boats in front of him, is supposed to be the Gulf of Aden in Yemen. The scenery of the place was recreated in Essaouira.
With the scenes in Paris, the situation was not so difficult. Of course, it was tricky to find a place that would suit the scene as well as serve as a great background locale. But it was easier because they didn’t have to fit in five countries in the backdrop of one. The Alps and the scenes that happen while chasing and killing of Ali are actually in France. But then again, there was still make-do involved. The scene that happens inside the mosque was not filmed in Paris. It was shot in Montreal. There was a lot of coordination involved in bringing it all together.
If you feel like giving up on those travel plans because you are not sure of anything anymore, don’t worry. There are still some beautiful settings that were very much exactly where they should be. For example, the beautiful church where the horrendous terrorist attack takes place was filmed in is the 16th-century Gothic church of Saint-Merrie. And then there is that scene where Jack makes an exit in an helicopter after meeting Cathy. It is the Holiday Beach Farm in Annapolis, Maryland.
You can imagine the amount of work it goes into scouting such locations, then designing and planning the sets accordingly. All of it wouldn’t have been possible due to the incredible work of various location managers. ‘Jack Ryan’ employed the talents of Michèle St-Arnaud (‘Brooklyn’, ‘Catch Me If You Can’, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’), Christian McWilliams (‘Syriana’, ‘Babel’, ‘The A-Team’, ‘Mission Impossible’ movies and ‘John Wick: Parabellum’), Peggy Pridemore (‘Forrest Gump’, ‘Clear and Present Danger’, ‘Argo’ and ‘Jason Bourne’), Arnaud Kaiser (‘Inception’, ‘Dunkirk’, ‘Now You See Me’ and ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and 2’), and Lori Balton.
Read More: Jack Ryan Season 1 Recap