Alberta’s film industry revels in The Revenant’s Academy Award nominations
Published Thursday, January 14, 2016 5:01PM MST
Last Updated Thursday, January 14, 2016 7:04PM MST
The announcement of the nominees for the 2016 Academy Awards saw The Revenant, which was primarily filmed in Alberta, at the head of the pack.
The film, which follows the adventures of a 19th century frontiersman played by Leonardo DiCaprio, received 12 nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor (DiCaprio) and Best Cinematography, a nod which likely owes to the scenery in the province’s mountain parks and foothills.
Scenes of The Revenant were filmed at locations throughout Kananaskis Country and on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation. Director Alejandro Gonazalez Inarritu attempted to use only natural light throughout the project resulting in a very difficult shoot.
The mild Alberta winter of 2014/2015 delivered little snow, a fact that proved problematic for the film about survival in deadly winter conditions. Filming continues months past the scheduled wrap date and the project was reportedly tens of millions of dollars over budget.
Luke Azevedo, commissioner of film, television and creative industries with Calgary Economic Development, says southern Alberta faced strong competition while courting the New Regency and Fox studios.
“It was many jurisdictions across the world that were vying for this project,” said Azevedo. “Over a four year period of consistently staying in contact and ensuring that we were being seen as an opportunity, it ended up coming our way.”
“When people are looking at where to shoot these projects, especially these large budget, extremely vista laden, types of projects, we come to the forefront continuously.”
Longview resident John Scott, of John Scott Productions, wrangled all of the animals required for the film. Scott supplied the production with horses, bison, wild boar and even ants and takes great pride in his contributions to the massive project.
“In the end, when you have an award winning picture, it makes it all feel like it’s worthwhile,” said Scott. “At the time you wonder what in the hell are you doing going through stress like this to find things like ants. I never thought in my life I’d have trouble with ants, or have to even work with ants.”
Scott says, next to his work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy in New Zealand, The Revenant was the largest undertaking of his career in film.
DiCaprio and Inarritu have said the filming of The Revenant was the toughest experience of their lives.
“The advantages that we have here is that our crews and talent are very much used to this type of environment,” said Azevedo.
“At the end of the day, we persevered. It really did show the quality of the people in this province and I think that goes a long ways for us as we’re marketing the province and as our industry is growing.”
The 88th presentation of the Oscars, hosted by comedian Chris Rock, will take place on Sunday, February 28, 2016.
With files from CTV's Brad MacLeod