Had it not been for a Hawaiian gas station owner, the film crew of World War II epic Flags of our Fathers would not be in Iceland. Kokayi Ampah, location manager for the movie told Morgunbladid that while in Hawaii he met a gas station owner who asked him what he was up to. When he answered, “searching for black beaches,” the Hawaiian said, “Oh, just like in Iceland.”
Kokayi Ampah has worked in the movie industry since 1968 and told the Morgunbladid that he was Hollywoods’ first African- American location manager. A location manager scouts locations for upcoming movies, makes sure that the location fits well into the screenplay, gets all relevant permits and makes sure the location is in good condition after the shooting. He has worked on a number of Clint Eastwood movies, his credits include The Shawshank Redemption, The Color Purple and End of Days.
When searching for the movie location for Flags of our Fathers he started looking in the United States. “In this instance we were looking for black beaches and volcanoes,” he told Morgunbladid. “The beaches we found in the US were not that suitable, some had palm trees and cliffs which did not fit into the screenplay, some even had turtles.”
After the “hint” from the gas station owner, Kokayi went on the Internet and saw for himself that there were plenty of black beaches in Iceland. “When it came down to it, Iceland was the best place,” said Kokayi.
He says the shooting has gone well. Although he found that the bright summer nights took some getting used to. “While it was bright outside I wanted to stay awake. I don’t go to bars but often realized that it was 1 AM and I was still watching t.v. or on the computer, usually I go to bed early.”
On his last night in Iceland he was on his way down town to have one last Icelandic a hot dog for dinner, “they are incredibly good with the fried onions,” he said. The Morgunbladid reporter pointed out that he obviously appreciated this national delicacy, just as Bill Clinton did when he visited Iceland last year.