Advertisement

Alberta animal trainer on challenges of ‘The Revenant’ movie

Low loonie a boost for Alberta movie industry
WATCH ABOVE: Mon, Jan 11: The dismal Canadian dollar may be just what the doctor ordered for Alberta’s movie industry, and the timing couldn’t be better with the success of The Revenant. Tracy Nagai reports.

CALGARY – A hellish shoot in the Canadian wilderness described repeatedly by “The Revenant” actor Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t exactly a walk in the woods for the film’s veteran animal trainer either.

The film has received a leading 12 nominations for the Oscars coming up at the end of the month, including a nod for best picture and best actor for DiCaprio, who plays real-life frontiersman Hugh Glass.

READ MORE: ‘The Revenant’ review: A very cold, unflinching, beautiful movie

Parts of the film were shot in British Columbia and in Kananaskis Country southwest of Calgary.

THE REVENANT, Leonardo DiCaprio, 2015. ph: Kimberley French/TM and Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection.
THE REVENANT, Leonardo DiCaprio, 2015. ph: Kimberley French/TM and Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection.
THE REVENANT, Leonardo DiCaprio, 2015. ph: Kimberley French/TM and Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection.
THE REVENANT, Leonardo DiCaprio, 2015. ph: Kimberley French/TM and Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection.
The Revenant
'The Revenant.'. 20th Century Fox
THE REVENANT, Forrest Goodluck, 2015. ph: Kimberley French/TM and Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection.
THE REVENANT, Forrest Goodluck, 2015. ph: Kimberley French/TM and Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection.
The Revenant
Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio in 'The Revenant.'. 20th Century Fox
THE REVENANT, Tom Hardy, 2015. ph: Kimberley French/TM and Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection.
THE REVENANT, Tom Hardy, 2015. ph: Kimberley French/TM and Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection.
Story continues below advertisement
Scene from The Revenant featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. .
Scene from The Revenant featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. . Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp., Courtesy Everett Collection
THE REVENANT, Domhnall Gleeson, 2015. ph: Kimberley French/TM and Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection.
THE REVENANT, Domhnall Gleeson, 2015. ph: Kimberley French/TM and Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection.
The Revenant
Leonardo DiCaprio stars in 'The Revenant.'. 20th Century Fox

For John Scott, who has been working for 45 years on movies and TV shows such as “Unforgiven,” “Lord of the Rings” and “Days of Heaven,” securing animals required for the film was a challenge. He needed to find horses, wild boar, buffalo, a turkey vulture and even ants — which presented a problem of its own.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Meet Glenn Ennis, a.k.a. the bear from ‘The Revenant’

“There’s lots of ant piles here in summer, but then it was wintertime so we had to fly them in from Toronto and Oregon,” Scott said in an interview.

“They come in vials of about 25 to a vial. I had 300 vials in the first shipment and I think I had about 500 in the second shipment. It was cold and they don’t last too long in the cold.”

Scott, who is based out of Longview, Alta., was working on the film long before production began and found the site in Kananaskis Country. He said it’s one of the hardest movies he’s worked on since “Heaven’s Gate” in 1978.

READ MORE: Alberta film industry hopes to benefit from The Revenant’s Golden Globe success

Because of the dangers involved, he had to find ways to make sure the animals remained safe.

“The horse going over the cliff? We had to make a mechanical horse and then we had to get a stuffed horse for the bottom of the cliff,” Scott explained.

“We had to get a prosthetic buffalo made, and they’re all expensive. They’re all over $20,000.”

Story continues below advertisement

It’s some of the attention the movie has received more recently that has the veteran trainer shaking his head. DiCaprio has commented about seeing the “terrifying” effects of climate change while he was in Alberta filming “The Revenant.”

READ MORE: Global Calgary meteorologist Jordan Witzel crucial to making of The Revenant

The Hollywood star and environmental activist was quoted in Vanity Fair as saying that, while in Calgary, “there would be eight feet of snow, and then all of a sudden a warm gust of wind would come” — something locals have referred to as chinooks for centuries.

“I can’t believe he came up with that. As an actor, when he turns the switch on, he’s a great actor, but his thoughts about common life leave quite a bit to be desired,” Scott said.

“Talking about global warming and the chinooks … he just doesn’t realize what he’s talking about.”