Update: New Regency Films have released a statement about the allegations.
“While filming in challenging conditions, safety was not compromised. We hired experts who worked with us in swift-water, mountain-climbing, bear behavior, helicopter operations and cold-weather safety to complement the U.S. production management team. We also cooperated with Canadian H&S agencies as well as labor organizations and appointed labor representatives to assist overall safety of cast and crew. Canadian film technicians we employed were all accredited, experienced and weather-wise. We worked closely with them to assist us in these diverse local weather conditions.”
Weather delays, budget overruns, production executives leaving…things haven’t been easy on “The Revenant” shoot, and the finale is still waiting to be lensed. And while director Alejandro González Iñárritu has owned up to the various difficulties he’s encountered — “I have nothing to hide,” he said. “There were problems, but none of them made me ashamed” — the rationale that the process is worth the final product isn’t flying with union rep for the crew members who worked on the film.
Petti says that when concerns were raised about the the extreme working conditions of the shoot that took place in harsh, cold environments, and in remote locations, one studio executive involved with “The Revenant” told him he was “over-dramatizing” the issues. Part of the problem Petti feels is that suits in California have no idea what it’s like to actually work on the Canadian tundra, or in other climates. And on a more fundamental level, he thinks that thinking needs to be changed so that personnel can be put at risk to create great work.
“In terms of our industry, it’s important that people differentiate between getting an amazing movie at all costs, and safety,” he said. Petti also added, “I feel a need to represent my members because I feel the position taken in the [original THR] article [about troubles on set] was one of ‘it’s all worth it because the picture looks really good.’ That’s a very dangerous road for any of us to be on and to buy into.”
There’s only four official days left on the production schedule for “The Revenant.” We’ll know in a few months if it was all worth it, but it would seem for some, that’s the wrong question to be asking, and the conversation needs to be had about the safety of crew members and what the level of acceptable risk is when it comes to unconventional working conditions. Share your thoughts below.