Cinematographer Roger Deakins feels every movie has its own set of challenges, whether it be the budget or time to pull off shots. However, for his latest film “Sicario,” the legendary DP told Business Insider there was a part of the movie in particular that was one of the hardest he’s had to pull off.
The movie follows FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) as she’s thrust into the intense drug war on the Mexico/US border.
In one scene Macer and “consultant” Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) are part of a convoy that goes into Mexico to pick up a major player in the Mexican drug trade and transport him back across the US border for questioning.
With beautiful aerial shots mixed with tight shots of the black SUVs driving close together as they speed through the narrow streets of Juarez to pick up its prisoner, the sequence is filled with tension as the convoy is on the lookout for anyone that might take them out.
Things get serious after the convoy picks up their man from a Mexican prison and try to cross the border back to the US. Stuck in gridlock at the border, the team spot numerous cars planning to ambush the convoy and reclaim the prisoner.
With Alejandro at the lead, the teams leave their vehicles and take out the targets, to the shock of Macer.
Deakins told Business Insider that it was unknown if they’d get permission to shoot in Mexico City (which doubled for Juarez), but finally towards the end of production they got the okay, leading them to scramble to get the shots they needed.
“That was such a jigsaw of how the hell we were going to shoot it,” said Deakins, noting the complexity or aerial shots of the real Mexican border and the convoy on the streets of Mexico City that had to match the scenes they did on set, like the shootout at the border.
Shot over five days, the shooting locations constantly changed. Deakins recalls how difficult it was to shoot the exterior of the Mexican jail where the convoy picks up their prisoner.
“[Director] Denis [Villeneuve] and I fell in love with this location and the night before we were going to shoot we were told, ‘We think you can shoot there,’” Deakins recalled. “So we all showed up that morning and it was all negations but we got permission about five minutes before we shot it.”
He added, “It was quite an amazing experience. But it was particularly tight to do this one.”
Watch the trailer: