Finding the perfect place to shoot a major motion picture is an early issue any studio must face. Will they film in a studio? Will the jungle be computer-generated? The decision sets the aesthetic for a film and can often make or break a production.
For Jordan Vogt-Roberts, director of “Kong: Skull Island,” it was not a matter to be taken lightly. “I made the decision very early on that I wanted 'Skull Island' to be as real as possible,” he told Travel + Leisure. “I wanted it to feel like a tactile, tangible place.”
Vogt-Roberts and his team made many trips around the world—places like Iceland, Hawaii, Australia, Thailand—in search of the perfect spot to set their scene. “Hawaii was great, but it’s very much tied to the aesthetic of 'Jurassic Park,'” he said. “I knew I wanted to stay away from that.”
It wasn’t until the director and his team arrived in Asia that he found what he was looking for.
“We went to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam in one trip,” Vogt-Roberts said. “Cambodia was more of a research trip, and Vietnam was originally planned as a throw-away location simply because no one had really shot there before.”
The team made its way through each country, but when they finally landed in Vietnam, the landscapes and rawness of the country won Vogt-Roberts over: “It was something that I just felt didn’t exist in any other place that we traveled."
The decision to transport the entire cast and crew halfway around the world wasn’t without its obstacles. No other production of its size had ever been shot in Vietnam, and the studio went through years of negotiations with the government before getting approval to start filming. Upon arrival, they hit the ground running, and it wasn’t long before Vogt-Roberts was obsessed.
“I truly fell in love with the people, the culture, the food, and the landscapes,” he said. “It became my mission to put this country on screen and to let the world know how spectacular it is."
In preparation for the film's release on Friday, March 10, we sat down with the director to reminisce on his time working on the film.