WRAPPED: Locked Up Abroad: Vietnam POWs

April 14, 2013

We reconstruct the Vietnam of the 1970s in this re-telling of the John McCain and Ernie Brace story.


The early briefs didn't point to an easy gig: nearly 10 distinct locations, ranging from thick jungles to prison cells to rural airstrips to...

.. the White House?  Circa 1972?!!?

And so it begins when you get the call from National Geographic's hugely popular series LOCKED UP ABROAD, also known as "Banged Up Abroad" in the UK.   And when each and every episode is justifiably famous for achieving the look and feel of a big-budget Hollywood feature, then you know you've got your work cut out for you!..

... which is an understatement.  Local Fixers Asia was taxed with providing all the markings of a feature film on a TV budget while ensuring everything look completely authentic.   As the episode's topic was the ordeal suffered by both John McCain and Ernie Brace (longest POW in the history of the USA) when they were captured during the Vietnam War, we had the dual task of reproducing an historical period from the past as well as two different countries (Vietnam and US).  


Our superb wardrobe department went to work immediately, creating stellar Vietnamese army uniforms from scratch while providing several changes of clothes for the main actors, ranging from their 1970s officer uniforms to their prisoner's black pyjamas.  

Not to be outdone, the art department constructed the likes of jungle prison camps complete with bamboo cages, as well as dressing convincing copies of both the infamous Hanoi "Hilton" prison complex, and a White House Rose Garden reception.  Meanwhile, our armorer supplied the cast with authentic AK-47s, pistols and hand grenades.

Makeup made sure the actors looked sufficiently under-nourished, dirty and sick, though under the intense Thai heat, fake sweat wan't needed at all!


Our prop department supplied an army truck, small 2-seater plane, all the trappings one would find at a White House reception and, of course, plenty of torture devices... 

A huge thanks to our entire team, everyone from our production team and their assistants to our amazing drivers, which assured that the episode was a success.  

Locked Up Abroad's Vietnam POWS: McCain and Brace will begin airing on NatGeo on April 17th 2013.   The episode's website contains clips and teasers.