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EIGHT BELOW

About The Design
It is one of the least visited, least explored and least known parts of our world, the kind of place legends are made of—so how do you set a movie on the barely inhabitable continent of Antarctica? This was the question that faced the filmmakers of EIGHT BELOW head on. The one thing they knew they couldn't do was send a large cast and crew to Antarctica itself— where 200-mile-per-hour winds and temperatures so cold they can actually shatter steel are the norm.

"We had to find a way to get the authentic look of Antarctica without actually going there, but we knew we would still have to go somewhere very cold and remote,” says Marshall. To solve the puzzle of finding a high, dry, frozen environment within reasonable reach of an entire production crew, Marshall brought in his previous collaborator on "Alive,” Robin Mounsay, a renowned location scout and technical adviser for mountain, glacier, snow, water and remote locations. "Robin is king of the mountains,” Marshall explains. "He's an expert at finding these kinds of spots all around the world and is also a very valuable expert in mountain safety.”

Mounsay had his work cut out for him on EIGHT BELOW, trying to emulate the truly unique conditions on Antarctica. The coldest, driest and windiest place on earth, Antarctica lies literally at "the bottom of the earth,” at the planet's southernmost pole. It is a stark, other-worldly realm in which 98 percent of the land is covered with a thick and permanent sheet of ice, while the other 2 percent is simply barren rock. So harsh it was never historically inhabited by humans, Antarctica has remained one of the last true wildernesses on earth, where few souls other than seals, penguins and the occasional explorer dare to dwell.

Only a few thousand humans live in Antarctica each year, most of them scientists conducting expeditions in what serves as a kind of perfect natural laboratory for the study of such intriguing fields as extreme weather, polar ice caps, astrophysics, uniquely adapted plant and animal life, global warming, glaciers, marine science and meteorological phenomena. Since humankind first landed on its shores in the 19th century, the continent has drawn some of the boldest, bravest and most determined explorers and scientific researchers from around the world.

Robin Mounsay scoured the earth for a place that could stand in for this amazing realm and eventually found it in Smithers, Canada—a small, high-altitude ski town about 750 miles above Vancouver, British Columbia. Smithers sits on a dramatic tabletop plateau with 360- degree views of treeless wilderness, the perfect place to replicate the wild icescapes of Antarctica. Mounsay also scouted areas in faraway Greenland, the magical northern country replete with glaciers and coastal ice fields, where some of the film's most spectacular shots of nature were achieved. Additional scenes featuring awe-inspiring vistas were shot in Stewart, British Columbia, just across the border from Hyder, Alaska. Finally, icebreakers in Spitzbergen, Norway, were commandeered for the exhilarating scenes in which the rescuers break through the Antarctic ice.

Arriving in Smithers, production designer John Willett found his crew working in minus- 25-degree temperatures and such strong winds, they could only work in short bursts or their hands would instantly be frostbitten. Nevertheless, they persevered to build the main physical sets, including the camp for the United States Research Base, the Italian base, Mount Melbourne and Dewey's Drop.

Willett did extensive research on some of the actual bases that exist on Antarctica—in particular McMurdo Base, the famous American base where up to 1,000 personnel live in the summer months and some 250 remain encamped during the long, dark winter. Made up of dormitories, labs and can

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