- Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt
- Director(s): Antoine Fuqua
- Producer(s): Bruce Berman, Roger Birnbaum
- Screenwriter(s): Richard Wenk, Nic Pizzolatto
- Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
- Animal Coordinator: Boone’s Animals
- Release Date: Friday, September 23, 2016
Featured Animal Action
All horseback riders were stunt riders or experienced actors who were skilled at riding, mounting and dismounting. All running/galloping scenes were well choreographed, and actors used caution while on and near animals. The horses’ rearing was a trained behavior. The horses were specially trained “falling horses” and “lay down horses” that fell on cue onto a soft landing area. When teams of horses pulled wagons or carriages, the drivers were experienced and teams of horses were familiar with each other and accustomed to the pulling action. Whenever horses were seen tied to posts/fences, they were attached to lead ropes tied to posts.
Throughout the film, sheep, cattle, chickens, mules and other background animals were seen milling about. This mild action was achieved using the following methods: the animals were allowed to graze at liberty; they were attached to lead ropes (held by actors or tied to posts); and/or they had their legs hobbled with soft cotton rope. Costumed trainers were in the scene during filming and/or trainers stood just off camera.
In the scene where we see the church on fire, most of the smoke was created with a handheld diffuser and paddle, and horses were kept a safe distance from the fire.
In the scene where we see a stagecoach riding into town, production paved the path prior to shooting, to make sure the stagecoach and horses would ride on smoothly textured ground When we see the steer follow ride into a corral behind the stagecoach and riders, the trainers released the steer at a previously worked out time to maximize safety. All animals were provided with shade, food and water between takes.
For all scenes featuring gunfights, the guns used quarter load blanks, which are considered the safe, more subtle blanks to use around animals.
In the scene where the Magnificent Seven cross the creek towards the mining area, the water velocity was checked by production beforehand and trainers crossed the creek with horses prior to filming the scene. When the blasts occur from the mines, there were four mortar blasts in this scene. Production held safety meetings prior to shooting, and the blasts occurred in a safe distance from the horses.
In the scene where we see the Native American jump on his horse, the horse was conditioned to this kind of stunt work and provided with a heavy saddle.
In the sequence where we see the townsfolk prepare for the attack of the Blackstones, fourteen horses were lined up side by side and ridden slowly down a sloping hill, the scene was practiced in one rehearsal in which horses only walked. There were four safety riders present to help horses stop. There was a wrangler placed at the first camera on foot. The horses were given water at a nearby bar before starting the next scene.
In the scene where the horse pulls a large gun barrel to prepare for the battle, an empty wooden barrel was attached to the pulley system with ropes. The horse was asked to walk forward, pulling the barrel up to the roof with the pulley, a stuntman was driving the horse forward. There was also a safety rope attached to the barrel.
When the Blackstones (the antagonists) first show up at the town in the large field, the head trainers hired experienced and organized local cowboys to bring their horses to set and ride. Most of the Blackstone gang were comprised of professional stuntmen in wardrobe.
In the same sequence, when the Blackstones approach town and dynamite explodes and horses fall with their riders, stunt riders rode from hill top down to town and two peat explosions go off as they pass. Safety meetings were held prior to shooting. When the explosions go off, a dummy horse was attached to a dolly track which was mechanically controlled to go down tract and flip off the end. The riders behind the dummy horse were stunt riders who fell off their horses on cue.
When the Blackstones ride towards town and are shot off their horses by men in the trenches, the area was checked for hazards, wranglers were on set, experienced stunt riders, and all the actors were given riding lessons, the horses and action were prepped, the horses were given ear protection, the horses were watered regularly, rested in shady areas. Whenever we see a horse fall due to an explosion, the horse was fake and placed on a dolly to make it look like it’s moving forward.
In the scene where we see the horse jumps over the trench, a single stuntman rode the horse at a lope up to the jump which was three feet high. He galloped and jumped the horse on the slope. The slope was even with and to the left of the trench. A camera was in the trench and another was placed above the trench to the left side to make it look like the horse jumped directly over the trench.
In the scene where Denzel Washington rides his horse onto the wooden porch, jumps off his horse and runs inside the saloon, a stuntman rode the horse up the steps to the porch. There was candy glass on the ground near the restaurant but not in the path of the horse. Once on the porch, the stuntman dismounted and hid behind the horse as if he’s trying not to get shot.
In the scene where the Blackstones uncover a gatling gun from a wagon, ten horses were in a line atop ridge. When the gun goes off, eight stuntmen performed saddle falls from their horses. Again, only a quarter load was used in the gatling gun to prevent hearing damage.
In the last shootout scene in town, the area was checked for hazards, wranglers on set,gave actors given riding lessons, the animals were prepped for action. Horses were watered, rested ,switched out, between takes/scenes. When the gatling gun kills a bunch of men near the church, horses with stunt riders rode around in front of the church shooting guns, others did saddle falls, the scene was prepped to the last fall before filming.
In the scene where Faraday rides towards the coach with the gatling gun, stunt riders were aligned along the ridge next to the coach. When the coach exploded, the horses were far enough away to ensure their safety.