Tonight, Discovery explores their next frontier with its scripted original miniseries, Klondike. At their recent TCA panel in Los Angeles, the cast, director and producers were on hand to discuss the three-part TV event, especially the real life adventures that went into creating it. Here are some highlights:
Abbie Cornish commented on how the location really helped them get into character and the era they were depicting: “Something that really struck us very early on is that the environment that we were in really formed the environment that these characters would have been in. We shot in Calgary, Canada, and we started off in the winter. For both Richard and I, the very first couple of days we were on a massive lake. It was cold. There was snow being thrown into snow machines. Richard spent a whole day with real snow being blown into his face. The hands were cold. The face was cold. It was hard to talk, and there was something very elemental, very challenging, and very dramatic about the landscape and about the weather that taught us very quickly what these characters would have felt like and gave us a little sense and a little taste of it.”
Richard Madden elaborated on this: “I think that what is so good about [Klondike] is that we don’t rely heavily on CGI or VFX for a lot of it. When we were up in the mountains, we were at 9000 feet. You drive into base in the morning and get into costume, period costume, and then take a snowmobile as far up the mountain as you could, and then you’d hike 45 minute to get to the top, which is like there’s no air and you can’t really breathe, and then we’d start shooting.
Director Simon Cellan Jones shared a bit on the most challenging scene to film: “I think the thing that was the most difficult or the most exciting was the big avalanche in the beginning of the first episode. That involved blowing up huge amounts of snow and making it fall down the mountain. That was the most complex because we only had one chance, and we had to shoot people running away from it and then use the same shots and actually have the snow coming down. If we got it wrong, we blew the whole movie.”
Paul Sheuring, Writer and Executive Producer gave us even more insight into that scene: “That’s worth talking about just a little more. Simon wanted to blow a palisade on the top of a ridge. They took us up there, we were at 9000 feet and we had a safety guy with us who worked those ridges which they would occasionally dynamite them to avoid avalanches. He was following us everywhere and treating us properly like a Hollywood film crew that didn’t know what they were doing and cautioning, ‘Safety, safety, safety.’ And then the big question was, ‘Can we dynamite that ridge like you do when you’re relieving those pressures, and can we film it?’ And he said, ‘Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I think we would probably put about 12 charges up there.’ And we said, ’12 charges? How much do you usually do?’ He said, ‘Four.’ So this guy was completely flying by the seat of his pants. The safety guy was the guy willing to go further than everybody else. That day, we had twelve cameras out there, and we blew the ridge, and it was beautiful.”
Simon Cellan Jones added: “We lost quite a few cameras that day.”
There really seems to be a fascination with America’s tougher, more rugged past, and Sam Shepard remarked: “I see this just as another piece of American Madness. It’s just another chunk of the insanity that we carry around with us regardless of whether we’re involved in technology or if we’re involved in trapping beavers.”
Klondike begins tonight at 9/8c on Discovery and 9pm ET/PT on Discovery Canada.
Photo Courtesy of Discovery