CALGARY -- Dinosaur Valley Studios (DVS) in Drumheller usually specializes in making life-size prehistoric creatures and set-pieces for movies.

But they recently got hooked on something completely different — creating an eight-metre replica of a northern pike jackfish for a small town in central Alberta.

The summer village of Rochon Sands, located on Buffalo Lake, reached out to DVS to create the large replica of the Canadian native fish, which will be on public display at their local marina.

Frank Hadfield is the President of DVS and says the team has gotten used to making more modern sculptures over the years.

“We’ve been pulled out of the prehistoric and into the present,” said Hadfield. 

“Whether it's extinct or modern animals we can we can do it, so fleshed out model skeleton, we've had to broaden our horizons because people have approached us with more and more projects to do so yeah, rather than turn them away, we take it on.”

The project is expected to take around three months to complete and Hadfield doesn’t expect that to be a problem for the group he’s put together.

“We’ve got a team of hot shot young guys that are really good at what they do, they’re super passionate about it,” said Hadfield.  “I have a hard time getting them to take a break, they get so absorbed in it.”

The structure will be made using a metal frame and coated in industrial spray foam to give it a realistic look.  It also needs to be strong enough to withstand the weather.

“We have to make it tough, it has to look good and it has to last a Canadian winter,” said Hadfield.

Bronson Kozdas is the metal fabricator for DVS and it’s unlike anything he’s done before.

“I’ve never had to do a giant foam structure where the metal doesn’t matter as much,” said Kozkas.  “It’s interesting to see a different way of making a large three-dimensional object so I was pretty excited for that.”

With Kozdas focusing on the framing and shape of the larger-than-life fish, the aesthetics and form have fallen upon Eddie Dahm the Paleoartist at DVS.

In order to get the shape and coloring perfect, Dahm has turned to a traditional method when it comes to sculpting.

“We’re just referencing real pictures of fish and trying to use our own artistic intuition to try and get it as close as we can to the real thing,” said Dahm. 

Dahm knows the massive pike will draw attention, but what’s inside it’s mouth is something a little more eye catching and even sinister.

“He’s got sharp teeth, which is good in the world of sculptures,” said Dahm. “We call it the tooth-and-claw effect, it’s what people’s eyes instantly go to, those big teeth or claws.”

The eight-metre jackfish is expected to be completed by July 1.  DVS works closely with the Royal Tyrrell Museum and in the past DVS has made props for films like Texas Rangers, Knockaround Guys and Superman: The Movie starring Christopher Reeves.

For more information on Dinosaur Valley Studios or to see progress being made on the sculpture visit their website.