We shot Red Dawn - mostly - in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Portions were shot near Santa Fe, but the majority of it - Las Vegas. Among other things, Las Vegas used to be the capital of New Mexico - and it was the birthplace of William Bonney - better known as Billy The Kid. Because of the nature of the film - war in the USA - we had to make the town look like it had gone through a war. Jackson DeGovia was the production designer on the picture and he brought in his army of people who proceeded to age the various buildings - pile rubble here and there - in general make it look like a town that had gone through a war. He succeeded admirably. We started the film in September and finished in December. In the beginning it was very pleasant - nice temperatures, fall colors, etc. But near the end end it got - well, really cold. I personally was wearing two pair of electric socks, a pair of sweat pants, over long underwear - an Eddie Bauer expedition bib coverall - on top - a turtle neck, wool shirt, Eddie Bauer heavy vest and an expedition parka with a big, comfy hood. On my feet were moon boots that came to my knees, and mittens that ran up to my elbows. Honestly, I had so many clothes on if I ever fell down it would take two strong guys to get me verticle again. In December, when we were shooting the winter sequences on top of Joh nson mesa the temperature frequently fell to -39. That's below zero! Truth is, MGM the producing studio of the picture called out to the UPM and said if it got to 40 below - to pull the plug. Well, just about everyone of us had a small thermometer attached to our jackets. We went around all day comparing temperatures...hoping we'd hit the magic number. But the UPM had his own and he would call out the temp occasionally. According to him, it never got colder than 39 below. In truth, I and several others had readings of 41 and 42 below. Now that's tough film making. Just about everyone in the working crew wore the same coat - the Eddie Bauer expedition parka. Most of them were blue. With the hoods up and closed tight, you had to walk up to the person, stare in his or her face to identify them. Finally, we took white tape and spelled our names on the back. Big help.
I had flown my own plane out to Las Vegas and had it there for the entire run. When it came time to go home - and it's now something like December 21 - although the runway was plowed, the snow banks on either side we over twelve feet high. It was like taking off in a tunnel. Quite thrilling!