×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Survivalist Helps ‘Captain Fantastic’ Cast Learn to Live Off the Grid

Much of “Captain Fantastic” takes place in the woods, with characters who live sustainably without running water or electricity. Authenticity was key, so director Matt Ross put in a call to survival instructor Jason Knight.

The setup: Ben (Viggo Mortensen) lives in the forest in the Pacific Northwest with his six children. But his way of life is tested after a family tragedy.

Practice what you preach: Knight, co-founder of Alderleaf Wilderness College in Monroe, Wash., worked with Ross during pre-production of the film (which bows July 8) to flesh out a curriculum for training the cast, then flew them out to participate in a densely packed tutorial. “We had to make sure all the needed survival skills were covered,” says Knight, who lives a mostly self-sufficient, wilderness-based life with his family on the Alderleaf campus.

Survival syllabus: Included in the two-day crash course were lessons on building a natural shelter, primitive water-purification methods, wildlife tracking, and making and using stone tools.

Best in class: Actors George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Shree Crooks, and Charlie Shotwell took the entire course. Mortensen made it for an evening. “George did great with the fire-making section,” Knight says. “Charlie surprised us with the amount of notes he took during the wild edible and medicinal plants section.” Adds Ross: “Both Annalise and Samantha particularly excelled at their butchering class.”

More Artisans

  • John Wick Chapter 3

    'John Wick: Chapter 3' Tones Down the Blood and Gore to Keep Look 'Totally Real'

    When Jeff Campbell, a visual effects supervisor with VFX studio Spin, initially set to work on the first “John Wick,” the 2014 action thriller from director Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad, he started with an industry-standard test: Establish a single, simple kill effect meant to get a sense of the look of the violence [...]

  • Spider-Man Homecoming

    Film and TV Productions Are Using Drones for Scouting Locations, Lighting and More

    Since a ruling by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2014 that cleared the use of drones in film and TV production, the acquisition of footage by these unmanned flying machines has become de rigueur for aerial shooting in cases when cranes or aircraft are impractical or unsafe.  As such, drones have been greeted enthusiastically not [...]

  • MTV The Challenge

    How 'The Challenge' Relied on Global Crew to Pull Off Plane Game

    Thirty-three seasons into MTV’s “The Challenge,” the reality competition series has spawned a band of traveling producers and engineers who fly around the world to create one-of-a-kind games. This includes placing cameras, smoke elements and a puzzle inside a plane that was suspended more than 30 feet above water. Executive producer Justin Booth joined “The [...]

  • Chaz Ebert DePaul CHA Documentary Filmmaking

    Chicago Program Gives High School Girls Lessons in Documentary Filmmaking

    At the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, three of the projects screening in the Short Film Corner — “Birthday,” “Phenomenally Me” and “Without Dying” — will be products of the DePaul/CHA Documentary Filmmaking Program, a six-week course co-sponsored by the Chicago Housing Authority in which high school girls learn filmmaking from graduate students and faculty of [...]

  • Steven Spielberg55th Annual CAS Awards, Inside,

    Cinema Audio Society Sets 2020 Awards Show Three Weeks Earlier

    The Cinema Audio Society has moved its 2020 awards show ahead by three weeks to Jan. 25 due to the compression of the season. It will be held at the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown. The CAS Awards recognize sound mixing in film and television, outstanding products for production and post-production, as well as the recipient [...]

  • Rocketman Elton John Biopic

    'Rocketman' Production Team Took the Fantasy Route With the Elton John Biopic

    Paramount has high hopes for “Rocketman,” the Elton John biopic starring Taron Egerton as the legendary performer. Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival on May 16, the film comes on the heels of Fox’s massively successful Freddie Mercury movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” and could capitalize on audiences’ newly discovered interest in rock star stories that transport [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content