Director’s Cut

image3The Director of any film with horses has to decide how many horses, what kind of horses – and what landscapes to put them in.

And as with all movies, a lot of it comes down to the budget. Follow the money… Just take a look at these films:

The Silver Brumby, budget of some £60 million, had a real palomino stallion, real wild brumbies (oh, all right, and the real Russell Crowe)

Clash of the Titans (the 1981 original, directed by Ray Harryhausen, not the CGI remake), with a budget of around $16 million used stop-animation and models. Result: the fabulous (but slightly jerky) flying horse Pegasus.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail,  with a budget rumoured to be under £150,000, has loads of riding scenes but no actual horses – just the Python actors prancing and a man banging coconuts together. (Still a great and very, very funny film though).

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Directing horse actors in films is nowhere near as straight forward as directing human film stars.  Horses behave differently and film sets are not natural places for them.

War Horse producer Kathleen Kennedy put it succinctly: ‘These are huge and somewhat unpredictable animals in situations that are already somewhat unpredictable.’ Even experienced horseman Russell Crowe said of filming The Silver Brumby, “That was a difficult film, dealing with seventy-five liberty horses. They run as a mob and all …. When they’re running, they’re running.”

There are similarities though. Steven Spielberg said the horses in War Horse were cast ‘in the sense that you would cast an actor,’ that is, chosen carefully for their appearance, abilities and character. And as you’ll see in Lights! Camera! Gallop!  many horse actors also had their own fan base – and their own make-up secrets.

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