Egypt's Golden Empire
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Director's Diary
Filmaker Richard Bradley
Director of Egypt's Golden Empire, Richard Bradley, shares some of his highlights from the location diary...

Shoot day 12

Our convoy screeches to a halt outside a mud-walled village not far from Luxor. It includes armoured cars, police outriders, plain-clothes security guards, followed by our crew bus and a container truck full of the costumes, props, chariots and weapons that we've shipped out from the UK.

Director James Hawes and I begin an impromptu audition around the vehicles where dozens of local men and women have gathered. Our fixer, Romany Helmy, is keen to know how many donkeys, goats, geese and pigeons we need for the first scene.

Meanwhile, deep in the bowels of our props truck, producer Ciara Byrne and production manager Rebecca Kelly are busy digging out weapons, costumes and jewellery before they start dressing the villagers.

The extras hurriedly back away from the truck when they see Ciara emerge with what looks like two mummified bodies. On closer inspection it becomes clear these are not real dead bodies but brilliant latex replicas - as scary as the real thing!

Shoot Day 15

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It's a big day. We are preparing to shoot Ramesses the Great's Battle of Kadesh - with horses, a golden chariot, and weapons previously used in the film "Mummy II". But there's a problem - the ancient Egyptians viewed bodily hair as unclean and there's no way Ramesses II can have a moustache.

But many Egyptian men today view a moustache as a symbol of their manhood. How am I going to persuade Ashur, the local village headman, who is playing our charioteer Ramesses II, to shave off his moustache? I have a razor, the wing mirror of our props truck, a few extra dollars.....

Shoot Day 19

In less than 8 hours we will be filming the biggest battle scene of the series, the Battle of Megiddo, when suddenly the team gets word that the driver of our prop and costume truck has been arrested by the Egyptian police. All our props, from chariots to wall friezes, statues to pharaonic crowns, have been impounded in Hurghada, a half-day's journey from Cairo.

The Egyptian authorities have mistaken our objects for real antiquities. Our imitation 3,000-year-old weapons raise concerns in this country so concerned with security. With dozens of Egyptian extras, a full film crew, fixer, lighting and set designers all standing by, we have only a few hours to get our driver and the truck free...

Shoot Day 20

It's after hours in the Cairo Museum and we are in the darkened hush of the Mummy room. Apart from a phalanx of security guards, we have the museum to ourselves. As Director of Photography Brian McDairmant pans over the desiccated remains of Ramesses the Great, the hairs on my arms stand on end.

From Abu Simbel to the Nile Delta, Nubia to Karnak, he left his gigantic mark: and here he is the man himself lying a few inches from me, 3,500 years later, 5 feet 8 inches tall, wisps of red hair still visible, arms crossed in a defiant pose even in death.

Shoot Day 36

We have been driving for two days across the Nubian desert. There is no road, just a succession of breath-taking dunes, lunar landscapes and stony plains to navigate. I'm pleased to have shed our armoured convoy and the plain-clothes security guards. There are just three of us and three Sudanese support staff in two robust 4 x 4 vehicles laden with film equipment, water, fuel and spare tires.

Camel with herder
The only traffic we meet is a train of 5,000 camels heading across the desert to a market at the Egyptian border. Two days of hard driving, 14 punctures, three tire bursts and three broken shock absorbers later, we arrive at the Third Cataract of the Nile - the frontier where the Egyptian Empire met the Kingdom of Nubia.

On a sand dune over looking the Nile, we pitch our tents as night falls. It is a real privilege to be here, in the heart of Nubia, where so little has changed since the pharaohs sent down their soldiers to conquer and plunder this country of gold 3,500 years ago...

Where to next:

Virtual Egypt - 360 degree panaromas of some of the key shooting locations
Series Contributors - Historians, Egyptologists and actors involved in the series
Credits - List of production and web site credits

Related Links:

Credits   Credits
Purchase Video or DVD   Purchase Video or DVD
The Series

-Episode 1
-Episode 2
-Episode 3

-Transcript 1
-Transcript 2
-Transcript 3

-Director's Diary
-Series Contributors

Egypt's Golden Empire