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A lot of people thought Alejandro González Iñárritu was a little bit crazy when he decided to shoot the Revenant, a film about a trapper who survives being left for dead after a bear attack. It wasn’t the story, it was the way he decided to shoot it. He wanted to use only natural light. He wanted to shoot it in chronological order. And most of all, he wanted to shoot it in a location that was as brutal and tough as the story itself.

That’s where Outlaw Contractors came in, providing a variety of support services to deal with the challenges this region brings to movie productions. For example, On location the temperature would regularly drop to around -25c. That doesn’t just affect the actors and the crew. Monitors and cables freeze. Batteries run out of power more quickly. The only pieces of equipment that were happy were the cameras because they usually run hot.

Shooting in natural light reduced the need for lighting gear which meant fewer generators, fuel, etc. But it also meant that the whole crew had a really tight window to get the shots right, and some of them had sequences as complicated as any ballet. We wanted to make sure that we gave them the support they needed to get everything done right the first time—or to make it easier to come back the next day and do it all again.

Leonardo DiCaprio, the lead actor, won an Oscar for his role. He said “A tough shoot? Hell yeah! We all worked incredibly hard. They were very tough conditions. It threw everything at us that you could possibly imagine.” We give that man a lot of respect—from being pretty much naked in freezing water, and had to eat an actual bear liver for one shot. We preferred the regular chow, ourselves!

There were more complications, including one that nobody saw coming. This was one of the warmest winters in Alberta history, and at the end it made finding and making sure locations were usable, extremely difficult! While the production did end up going over schedule, they thought it was worth it to make it turn out right. Apparently the rest of the world did too, because the Revenant took home Oscars for acting, directing, and cinematography, along with a whole lot of other awards.

We are proud to have been a small part of such a wonderful and challenging production.

Outlaw Contractors has worked on a number of movies and television productions, including:

War for the Planet of the Apes
Hell On Wheels
In Cold Pursuit
The Revenant