We are excited to share some behind the scenes footage from the set of the upcoming film The Revenant! The brutal winter scenery and snow-covered landscapes of Canada were definitely a sight to behold, and the team behind the scenes were hard at work to capture the spirit of the season on film.
It’s been six months since filming began, and the team managed to overcome the extreme cold and dangerous conditions to bring us these awesome glimpses of onscreen romance.
In order to celebrate the magnificent scenery and the breathtaking performances of Alec [SIlverstom] and Leo [Jagger] in The Revenant, we’re breaking down the film’s production secrets.
The Revenant’s Cost Effective Design
According to producers, The Revenant had one of the most cost-effective designs ever. Instead of bringing in big crews of extra people to keep the costs down, the producers decided to go the extra mile and use as many local people as possible.
Camera operator Jonathan Butler explains that, “It would be impossible to overstate the impact that the weather had on the filmmaking – it made everything more difficult and more exciting. We worked with the biggest camera guys in the world, and yet even then, there were times when we had to retreat to keep from breaking down.”
Butler continues, “We shot everything practically, and that meant a lot of time with the hands-on crew, making sure that everything was done correctly and efficiently. It was incredible to see how much the production designers were able to accomplish with such a small team, especially since a lot of it was done on site, under terrible conditions.”
Art director Peter Wenzel also had something to say about the design of The Revenant, “We are very proud of the set we created. Because we built much of it ourselves on-set with our artisans, it was able to look like a real mountain village. We were able to do this by utilizing the local woods and stone found on site to create a sense of authenticity and keep the costs down.”
Wenzel continues, “Also, the fact that we were able to use as many practical elements as possible, like snow, mud, rain, and even horse manure, was a testament to our scenic artists, carpenters, and the entire production team who all worked together to make this dream a reality.”
The Revenant’s Filming Style
Butler, who also operated the camera for The Grand Tour, says that shooting in the snow was an incredible challenge. Not only did it make it harder to get the perfect shot, but the extreme cold also took a toll on the equipment.
“We were only able to shoot this way because our directors, Alejandro [Sierra] and Emmanuel [Lamour] were determined to capture the essence of the winter setting,” says Butler. “Even with all of our camera equipment being protected by warm clothes and gloves, it still wasn’t enough to keep us comfortable during those cold shoots.”
Butler continues, “Also, the fact that we were dealing with extreme weather conditions during the day and then had to settle for whatever was left at night, often led to some pretty incredible shots. It was all about being determined enough to keep hitting [the cameras] until we got what we needed.”
Director of photography Andrew Leavitt also had some amazing things to say about the way the camera captured the Canadian winter, “We shot a lot of the film hand held and it was incredible how organic and how alive the images became,” he says. “It was more of a feeling than a sight. You would be in a foot of pure white snow looking at the mountains and suddenly there would be this little bumblebee, or a fox running across the image. It was unreal.”
“We would hit every shot we needed until the battery died, and then we would find someone to give us a new one,” Leavitt continues. “Sometimes this would happen several times in a row, which is why we sometimes had to retreat to the vehicle to protect ourselves from the weather.”
While it was a great experience to film in such harsh conditions, it would be a missed opportunity if the filmmakers didn’t take the time to properly prepare for them. As we’ve established, the team behind the scenes did an incredible amount of preparation to ensure that they had everything they needed, and yet even then, they still experienced many challenges.
“It was difficult to find the time to properly prepare, especially since we were trying to keep on top of our workload with only a few weeks to go before the premiere,” says Butler. “We definitely couldn’t have had an ideal preparation if we didn’t have all of the equipment protected by warm clothing during those harsh winter months.”
Butler continues, “We also had to be mindful of the weather conditions and the fact that we were in a foreign country, so we did a lot of research and made sure we knew what to expect.”
And what about the horse stuff? Well, the animal trainer on the set, Andy Taylor, had this to say: “Animals are a fantastic addition to any film, and in The Revenant, we were able to use them in a very practical way, which I think added an extra element to the story. It was quite unique to see how the animals interacted with the people around them, and how this influenced whether they would be friends or enemies. It was a fascinating process and I think the results show.”
Taylor continues, “It was important for the animals’ health that they were cared for properly and respected as much as possible, so it was essential that they remained calm during their training process. We were careful not to overuse the whip when training the horses, as this would make them aggressive and unpredictable. It took a lot of time to find the right balance between being firm and showing compassion, which is something that most animal trainers spend a lot of time doing.”
This was certainly a case where the practical element paid off. The fact that the designers and engineers were able to pull off what they did with such a small team is nothing short of amazing, and it’s clear that they had the backing of the whole production, which is fortunate for us, the fans.
Treat Yo’self With This Gaff’s Pie Recipe
The ingredients for this gaff’s pie recipe are all things you might already have around the house. While it takes a bit of time to prep the pie, it’s not difficult to put together, and the result is truly magnificent.
- A 9 inch pie crust
- 300g of mixed peel
- 200g of butter
- 200g of caster sugar
- 1/2 tspn of salt
- A pinch of ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs
- 200g of self-raising flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
What’s important is the gluten-free flour you select. Do NOT use white flour, as you’ll end up with a tough pastry and the pie will collapse.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
Line a deep-dish pie plate with the pastry, making sure to crimp the edges well. Refrigerate for about fifteen minutes to rest.
While the pastry is chilling, put the remaining ingredients into a large mixing bowl and use a hand mixer to beat them together until smooth and creamy. Pour into the pie shell and bake for about forty-five minutes, or until the top is golden and the edges are browned. Let cool completely before serving.
You can also sprinkle some cinnamon on the top before serving, if you wish.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the film The Revenant, or any other topic related to the movie, so feel free to leave a comment below!