Source: 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, Skarsgrd 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 Morocco.

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 the church.

"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 evil.