During the making of "48 Hours Presents: The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs," the documentary production team had astonishing access to CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. They followed CIA Director John Brennan around the inner sanctum and rode with him on his private elevator. Here the crew gathers around the iconic CIA seal at the entrance hallway.
Current CIA Director John Brennan sat down for an extensive interview with the producers of "The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs." Brennan revealed he doesn't think there will be an end to terrorism during his lifetime.
A look at one of the sets used for interviews with the CIA directors. The documentary directors wanted to give the impression that the spymasters were being spied upon. To achieve this look they used long lens cameras. Backgrounds were printed on paper and then hard elements like chairs, beams, lights, tables, and computers were added.
For all the operative's interviews, a background was created to look like a safe house: an old factory or empty warehouse. According to Senior Counterterrorism Analyst Gina Bennett, pictured, when she first started following Osama bin Laden she said "Osama bin Laden ...was like the Donald Trump of the terrorism underworld. He had the wherewithal and a vision that was clearly controversial and different from everybody else, but, you know, the tenacity to follow it."
Jose Rodriguez, former head of clandestine services, was interviewed in a hotel room. The room was 50 x 60 feet to accommodate the paper backdrops and props used to create the feeling of a safe house. Each shoot involved three camera operators, a sound mixer, a chief gaffer, two production assistants and two directors.
The documentary "The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs" had 38 shoot days and took over a year to complete. It airs Saturday, May 21 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
The goal for the producers and directors of the documentary "The Spymasters" was to have the CIA directors and operatives look straight into the camera and create an intimate rapport between them and the audience. To achieve this, interviewer Chris Whipple sat behind a curtain and only saw his subject on a screen. On the other side, the subject only saw Whipple on a reflective glass over the camera lens. One of the directors Jules Naudet, picture in he foreground, kept notes to make sure all the questions were asked and answered.
Even a CIA director can break a sweat. Ron Hill, director of photography, had to double as a makeup artist and powder the brow of former director Michael Hayden during the shoot. Most of the directors and operatives gave two interviews, each one approximately four hours long.
During his interview, former CIA Director Leon Panetta spoke about his religion and how much his faith played a role in his decision making as director of the agency. Mr. Panetta invited the crew to attend church with him. Our cameraman used a Steadicam to capture some of that footage. The stabilizing device allows its operator to follow a moving subject in smooth, cinematic way.
Crews for the documentary "The Spymasters" traveled to Washington, Florida, California, Washington D.C., and New York for interviews with CIA directors and operatives. Each director agreed to participate in an outdoor interview shot outdoors in addition to on set.
The producers chose Times Square for former CIA Director James Woolsey, because in his interview he talked about how his worst nightmare was to see a terrorist attack on American soil using an electromagnetic device to cripple the East Coast.
The producers of "The Spymasters" collected thousands of hours of archival video. Some of the material was not in good condition, so an approach was devised that involved broadcasting the video on multiple monitors and shooting the images off the monitors. The CBS News control room was used to accomplish this.
After every shoot it's always a good idea to look at what you've captured before leaving the location. Following a shoot in Washington D.C. with former CIA Director William Webster, "The Spymasters" crew screened their video right off of the cameras.
The opening shot of "48 Hours" Presents: "The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs" shows Arlington National Cemetery. It involved a lot of coordinating and heavy equipment. We brought in a jib -- an electronic arm with the camera attached [this jib's arm was 30 feet long] to create a movie-like sweeping effect as the camera lowered from the sky to the tombstones of CIA agents Elizabeth Hanson and Jennifer Matthews. Both women were killed in the line duty in Afghanistan. Our movements in the cemetery were timed so as not to interfere with burials happening that day.