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PATHFINDER

About The Shoot
To immerse the audience in the environment of PATHFINDER, Marcus Nispel chose to shoot the film almost entirely outdoors in and around the craggy, forested beauty of Vancouver, British Columbia. Working at his trademark lightning pace – "I just like momentum” says Nispel – the shoot was a blistering 53 days, many of which involved an astonishing 40 to 60 set-ups in a single day. With only two days of shooting inside sound stages, the production found itself in near constant motion – shooting in the middle of waterfalls, while hanging off perilous escarpments and on the run through dense woods. For Nispel, the whole point was creating a hardcore, realistic environment that would be completely believable and truly visceral to the audience – rather than relying on technology.

"I liked the actors to do their own stunts whenever possible and when it says on the script ‘eighty people fall off the mountain' – they are not digitized in this film, they are real,” he states. "We painstakingly tried to make every scene as authentic as possible, because I believe that when people watch a movie, subliminally they register it is something that is painted in. I don't want the audience to feel cheated be distracted by some CGI effect. As good as effects are, I think you still realize that, well, this didn't really happen. But if you've got actors and crew hanging on a rock wall getting banged around and the camera can actually move – then it's true, authentic experience for the bottling.”

Authenticity often comes with a heavy price tag – namely constant danger and discomfort. Drenching rains, ankle-turning terrain and bone-chilling temperatures were just some of the hardships that the team faced. Some of the most difficult days on the set came at the mighty Stawawmus Chief Mountain, a sheer, granite rock face in Squamish National Park. "The Chief was especially dangerous because there were a lot of mossy rocks that got wet and it is pitch black there even in the middle of the day because the trees are so big,” says Nispel. "It proved to be brutal terrain for shooting.”

Yet Nispel felt there was no other choice of terrain if he was to capture the raw nature of life amid the elements in a Pre-Columbian America of 1000 years ago. "I warned everyone in advance that there was going to be wind and weather, rocks and stones at all times,” recalls Nispel. "The great thing was that everyone rose to the occasion and got into the grit of it. We were lucky because we found a tough cast and crew who were ready to work in rain and water and mud with no complaints.”

On the contrary, the rain, wind and risky mountainous terrain only seemed to amp up the atmosphere and dare the performers to push even harder.

Sums up Nispel: "The climate became another participant in the film. I think when actors are sweating or shivering, when the adrenaline is truly flowing, they stop acting and they start being real. They start to become Vikings and Native Americans and everything about the story starts to fall into place.”

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