Tarantino film Django Unchained features Grand Teton scenery, wildlife

Actors Jamie Foxx, left, and Christoph Waltz appear in a publicity image from Django Unchained, a new movie filmed in Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding area

Actors Jamie Foxx, left, and Christoph Waltz appear in a publicity image from Django Unchained, a new movie filmed in Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding area. (©Columbia Pictures — click to enlarge)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT YELLOWSTONE GATE, AN INDEPENDENT, ONLINE NEWS SERVICE OFFERING YELLOWSTONE AND GRAND TETON COMMUNITY NEWS AND INSIDE VIEWS.
 
By Ruffin Prevost, Yellowstone Gate
December 20, 2012

Sharp-eyed cinema fans may recognize landscapes from Grand Teton National Park and see wildlife from the National Elk Refuge in a few scenes from a major Hollywood movie set for release on Christmas Day.

Actor Jamie Foxx rides a horse in front of what appears to be ski runs at the Snow King Resort in Jackson, Wyo., in the background

Actor Jamie Foxx rides a horse in front of what appears to be ski runs at the Snow King Resort in Jackson, Wyo., in the background. (©Columbia Pictures — click to enlarge)

Production on writer-director Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Django Unchained, came to Jackson, Wyo. on short notice in February when a lack of snow in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains forced producers to scramble for a new last-minute location.

The film crew spent about a week shooting around Jackson Hole at a cost of more than $500,000, according to the Wyoming Film Office, which will credit 15 percent of total expenditures in the state back to producers under a state-sponsored incentive program designed to attract production and promote Wyoming.

Django Unchained is a Civil War-era homage to spaghetti Westerns that follows the exploits of a renegade slave played by Jamie Foxx and a German-born bounty hunter played by Christoph Waltz.

Both Academy Award-winning actors were in scenes shot in Jackson Hole, and parts of those snowy sequences appear in publicity materials for the film.

Critics have described Django Unchained as “politically troubling,” “liberating,” “darkly comedic,” “exceedingly graphic” and “a bloody good time from start to finish.”

Producers picked Jackson Hole as a backup winter location after Mammoth Lakes, Calif. surprisingly had no snow in late January.

“We had to disassemble the entire set, put it on a truck, and we shipped it to Wyoming,” production designer Michael Riva said in a statement released with the film’s production notes. “And it was beautiful. There were many locations that were really terrific, like steam rivers, hills with tons of snow, and elk preserves. It started to open up the picture. The picture became very large, and the scope became really grand.”

Producer Stacey Sher said Tarantino wanted to shoot in a real Western location with snow and cold weather. There was plenty of both during the shoot, when temperatures at one point dipped to around 20 degrees below zero. But the extreme cold apparently didn’t sour Tarantino on shooting in Grand Teton and the surrounding area.

Quentin Tarantino

Locals say writer-director Quention Tarantino “fell in love” with Jackson Hole, Wyo. (©Paramount Pictures — click to enlarge)

“Quentin Tarantino fell in love with Jackson Hole,” said Jackie Skaggs, spokeswoman for Grand Teton National Park. Skaggs said Tarantino shot scenes in Antelope Flats and around the Kelly area of the park, including at the Kelly Warm Springs.

“They were thrilled by the scenery and even more in awe of our wildlife,” Skaggs said.

It was the vast herds of elk and bison at the National Elk Refuge between Grand Teton and Jackson that caught Tarantino’s eye, said refuge spokeswoman Lori Iverson.

For a few hours on the last day of shooting in the area, refuge personnel accompanied a small crew to film two riders on horseback with elk and bison in the far distance, Iverson said.

Django Unchained is the only major Hollywood production to request use of the refuge since Iverson began work there in 2005, she said.

Iverson said the production was allowed only as long as their work didn’t stress wildlife, and that crew members were “top-notch” in getting the shots they needed without interfering. Production was approved because the film is likely to help draw attention to the refuge and its mission of wildlife conservation, she said.

The animals at the refuge are regularly fed in winter, so wildlife managers were able to tell crew members exactly where and how to set up to get a shot featuring bison and elk, but with no power lines, buildings or vehicle tracks.

Bison and elk from the National Elk Refuge are visible in a shot from the trailer of Django Unchained.

Bison and elk from the National Elk Refuge are visible in a shot from the trailer of Django Unchained. (©Columbia Pictures — click to enlarge)

“Everything was so perfectly lined up,” she said. “The herds were positioned just right, and we couldn’t have set it up any better if we tried.”

After seeing a glimpse of the elk and bison herds included in the film’s preview trailer, Iverson said she’s looking forward to seeing the movie.

“I’m just thrilled we made the cut,” she said. “It may be a very brief blip, but that scene will be a pretty proud moment for me.”

Contact Ruffin Prevost at 307-213-9818 or ruffin@yellowstonegate.com.

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Published on December 25, 2012

  • Seen 2 Much

    From locations for “The Big Sky” (1952) to “Shane” (1953) to “Spencer’s Mountain” (1963) to the Busch Beer tv spots of the 1990s, the Teton Range should maybe be renamed The Cliche Range, as Tarrantino’s production desperation caused yet another flick to include the obvious.

  • DeweyV

    Brilliant! Showcasing the finest scenery of the Equality State with a bloody violent reverse-racial highly polarized piece of Quentin Tarantino fiction. You just can’t buy this kind of publicity…

  • ginny warren

    As lovely as the shots look, as much as I enjoy most of Tarantino’s work, and as much as I appreciate the much needed money spent in Wyoming, I will not be spending once red cent of my hard-earned, over-taxed money to support anything with which Jamie Foxx has an affiliation. He went too far with his “comedic” racist remarks and anointing BHO as his “Savior”. Nope. Keep the trash out of Wyoming, please.

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