How Ron Howard Got Around the Vatican's Ban

Posted on April 27, 2009

Just the mention of Dan Brown's name was enough for the Vatican to ban Ron Howard from filming at any of Rome's churches for the film version of Angels and Demons. So how did Ron deal with the ban, when he needed large amount of footage? He had to resort to stealth measures. Howard sent in cameramen to pose as tourists to film the locations and to take over 250,000 photographs.

The team behind the new film, which is based on an earlier book by Dan Brown, used the surreptitiously-gathered material to digitally recreate many of the famous papal buildings, Tuscan colonnades, fountains and monuments within St Peter's Square.

Special effects supervisor Ryan Cook told Italian film magazine Ciak: "The ban on filming put us in serious difficulty because we were not able to carry out the photographic surveys necessary to reconstruct the setting. So for weeks we sent a team of people who mixed with tourists and took thousands of photos and video footage."

The move was necessary because leaders of the Catholic church, still smarting from The Da Vinci Code's assertion that Christ married and fathered children with Mary Magdalene, had banned the film-makers from filming in or around any of Rome's churches. Father Marco Fibbi, spokesman for the diocese of Rome, said at the time: "Normally we read the script, but this time it was not necessary. The name Dan Brown was enough."

That Ron Howard, he's sneakier than he looks. Angels and Demons opens in wide released in the U.S. on May 15th.

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