The film was shot in Shreveport, Louisiana so Fuqua and his team had to essentially recreate Washington D.C. from scratch. "I surrounded myself with smart technical people to help build the White House, so we literally built most of the White House on this big empty lot. We found a freeway that we took over for Pennsylvania Avenue," said Fuqua. "Because of the technology today, we literally created Washington just using some plate shots of DC. So I’m really proud of it, what we pulled off. We’re still working on it. I’m literally approving almost 200 visual effects a day, and this movie has to be out March 22, so I’ve never worked on a movie in this short of time. However, it puts a certain pressure on you to deliver."
"The Secret Service job is 100% success or 100% failure. There’s no in between for them," explained Fuqua. "Kennedy dies, it’s a failure. First Lady dies, it’s a failure. Their job is to protect the President. Even when Reagan was shot, that’s a failure. The fact that he was hit with a bullet and could have died is a failure. Their job is so extreme."
The next scene was an extended sequence (again with very rough, unfinished effects) showing how the film's North Korean terrorists (led by Die Another Day's Rick Yune) manage to attack and infiltrate the White House. The attack takes places on July 5th, because everyone naturally assumes an attack would take place on Independence Day and so people have let their guard down. It was a particularly brutal and unsettling set-piece as the terrorists take out the White House's defenses and the Secret Service with ruthless efficiency. The terrorists' airplane also opens fire on the people of Washington D.C., strafing the National Mall and Washington Memorial.
The director explained why they chose to use North Koreans as the film's villains. "The Middle East is sort of done to death. You know that story, and we’ve dealt with that. It seems to me, and we talk a lot about this, that North Korea is like the black spot on the globe," said Fuqua. "There’s the least known about that country than any other place. They won’t let anybody in, they don’t let cameras in. There was a great special on CNN where they snuck cameras in, and they show public executions and people starving on the street. It’s a dangerous place. And it’s so close to South Korea. Part of what we deal with in our movie is the Seventh Fleet, which is there to keep the peace and make sure North Korea stays in place. So I felt like it was a very contemporary villain, if you will. It feels like a place that we’ll have to deal with eventually, so I obviously wanted to be ahead of the curve. That was something that we all talked about. I didn’t want to change it, try and turn it into the Middle East or anything like that."
Olympus Has Fallen opens March 22.