Servicing the Motion Picture Industry for over 30 Years.
Stuntman Joe Dodds was working on a film near Champion, Alberta, when the director happened to mention he had a decent western script tucked away. Dodds suggested he speak with his friend, John Scott, who could likely help him with the picture. Nearly a decade later, the panoramic pleasure Legends of the Fall premiered, bringing the jawdropping majesty of the Alberta wilderness and ranchlands to the big screen. Starring Brad Pit and Anthony Hopkins, the film is but one of four Academy winning films Longview, Alberta, rancher and head wrangler, John Scott has helped bring to fruition.Utilizing his experience in roles such as stunt co-ordinator and performer, head wrangler, animal wrangler, location scout, and transportation coordinator, Scott, head of John Scott Motion Picture Animal Productions, has enjoyed a 36-year-span of steady workin the film industry. During that time he has been involved in the creation of well over 130 projects, both film and television.Of those four Oscar winning films Scott points out, “Alberta is the only province that has three Academy Award winning films made here - Days of Heaven, Legends of the Fall and Unforgiven.” (The fourths, Lord of the Rings, was filmed in New Zealand with Scott acting as horse stunt coordinator and fellow Canuck cowboy, Lyle Edge working as a wrangler coordinator).Listening to Scott speak, it becomes clear the ranch enviroment he surrounds himself with plays a dominant role in his life, and he has brought to the high-powered studios of California, and concurrently, a reality, he can retreat to for some space of his own.Standing in one of the spacious corrals at John Scott’s ranch, you would almost believe you’ve stepped back into time and the old West. Established by Scott’s grandfather, William Bews, in 1904, and located in the picturesque ranching foothills of the Canadian Rockies, the ranch itself exudes authenticity. Scott’s ranching blood runs three generations deep, and his pride of that heritage is evident in the careful preservation of this 100-year-old working ranch. Ranch manager, Cathy Sutherland, adeptly serves at the helm of the ranch, overseeing the cow/calf operaton, the horses and a small herd of bison.Home to Scott, Sutherland, and a handful of wranglers and ranch help, the quarters and land have also been used for filming many a Western film, and come complete with the own built-in frontier town - a former film set used in the movie Monty Walsh, starring Tom Selleck.THE FILMMAN “Within 100 miles, you can make it look like five different states.” So said Clint Eastwood when describing Alberta’s multitude of filming locales. Indeed, capitalizing on the diversity of the landscape of Alberta, has led John Scott Motion Picture Animal Productions, through a lifetime journey of adventure in the movie industry. Scott’s first experience wrangling began in 1970 while he was on the rodeo circuit, and was asked to supply horses and do some stunt work in the producton of Little Big Man, starring Dustin Hoffman. “Yes, it was quite a fun deal,” remembers Scott. “We didn’t realize after that picture that we would actually have an industry here in Alberta, and it didn’t really happen until 1975, when five pictures (including Buffalo Bill & the Indians, with Paul Newman) were filmed here, and it looked like the business was starting to come. That was a turning point.” Scott went to Hollywood and worked with the wrangleres and stuntmen there, gettting onto sets and seeing how the industry ticked - and invaluable experience when it came time for producers to come to Alberta. THE PROMOTERWith all its rich culture and landscape, Alberta is, unfortunately, the only province which doesn’t offer a tax credit for American film producers, affecting the amount spent in the province. “We are not on a level playing field with the rest of the provinces. It’s been a very had sell for the last 10 years,” Scott states, comparing the industry dollars to B.C. which, for instance, enjoys over a billion dollar film industry revenue a year, while in Alberta, “we are trying to consistently do around two hundred million dollars.” Scott says te industry has tried different models and a current “film fund” now in place, which provides partial funding for hiring Albertans on films is helping. THE HOST AND PRODUCEROne of the many projects Scott has been involved with, was one of his own making. Recovering from a broken hip incurred in a car accident, gave Scott the time to vision out the plan of his own television series, eventually called John Scott’s World of Horses which he not only hosted, but produced as well. The White Iron production, was syndicated and proved to me an informative and well documented set showcasing the many disciplines and uses of horses also gave Scott the opportunity to honor the animal wranglers he had come to know over the years. “I had gotten to know chuckwagon drivers, rodeo cowboys and many Canadian champions. There were many stories to be told and this was a chance to expose those individual stories.” THE COWBOY WITHINScott is the founder of the Alberta Chapter of Stunts Canada, anassociation of professional stunt co-ordinators and performers, formed in 1974 Vancouver. Nanton rancher and veteran Stunts Canada member Brent Woolsey is considered to be one of the busiest stuntmen in the business today and attributes his film career to Scott who gave him his first job working in the movie industry. “I have learned what to do and what not to do by watching him. The movie business is really competitive these days and if you snooze, you lose. Maybe that’s why John does not sleep much. From left: Scott organizing a day of filming; buffalo wranglers and John near Drumheller; on the set of Into the West. “John is and always will be a cornerstone in the Alberta movie business. He has given an opportunity to an awful lot of people. - Brent Woolsey Still, keeping his animal actors and the Alberta movie industry working is a great incentive for Scott, who frequently flies between Los Angeles and Vancouver securing the next picture deal for the province. “If I can promote a Western up here, it is to my advantage.” he explains. “It gets these horses and animals working - it’s to everybody’s advantage.” Scott’s experience with the film industry over the years has taught him that if a director is doing a contemporary film here, the next picutre he makes may be a Western once he experiences Alberta. “If he come here and sees the country and what kind of potential we offer, it’s good for everyone in the business.” THE HOST AND PRODUCEROne of the many projects Scott has been involved with, was one of his own making. Recovering from a broken hip incurred in a car accident, gave Scott the time to vision out the plan of his own television series, eventually called John Scott’s World of Horses which he not only hosted, but produced as well. The White Iron production, was syndicated and proved to me an informative and well documented set showcasing the many disciplines and uses of horses also gave Scott the opportunity to honor the animal wranglers he had come to know over the years. “I had gotten to know chuckwagon drivers, rodeo cowboys and many Canadian champions. There were many stories to be told and this was a chance to expose those individual stories.” THE COWBOY WITHINScott is the founder of the Alberta Chapter of Stunts Canada, an association of professional stunt co-ordinators and performers, formed in 1974 Vancouver. Nanton rancher and veteran Stunts Canada member Brent Woolsey is considered to be one of the busiest stuntmen in the business today and attributes his film career to Scott who gave him his first job working in the movie industry. “I have learned what to do and what not to do by watching him. The movie business is really competitive these days and if you snooze, you lose. Maybe that’s why John does not sleep much.Former World Champion chuckwagon driver, Tom Glass, also a Stunts Canada member agrees with Woolsey. “John has done more than anyone for the industry, he’s a good wrangler, stunt co-ordinator, he’s always promoting Alberta and he’s a good friend.” Glass’ first taste of working in films began in 1972 wrangling with Scott in the movie Pioneer Woman. He then went on to try his hand at stunt doubling for Kirk Douglas in Draw! Since then, Glass and his brother Reg have both been active in the film industry.THE HORSESAs a horseman, Scott and his wranglers have learned to be as adept at handling horses, upt ot 800 at a time - as they were asked to do in the filming of Heaven and Earth. Safety for the actors and horses are a top priority for Scott while filming these large action scenes. He considers one of the more exceptional horse acts he has worked with to be horse trainer and stuntman Claude Chausse and his 10-year-old black Quarter Horse gelding, Mustang. When Chausse isn’t delighting audiences on the pro rodeo circuit, he occasionally finds work in movies such as the western comedy Shanghai Noon, starring Jackie Chan. The ranch is home to often upwards of 100 horses, most used in the movies. Though at one time breeding his own stock, Scott now purchases his horses privately, from sales and occasionally PMU Farms. STOCK SUPPLIERScott will be in the saddle and acting as client co-ordinator for the Calgary Stampede 2005 Trail Drive, in honor of Alberta’s 100th Anniversay. The 2005 Trail Drive donated a seat on the ride to STARS benefit auction which brough $26,000. He also rode with the 2000 Millennium Trail Drive in which Stampede ranch hands and guest wranglers drove the renowned Calgary Stampede bucking horses 136 miles from the ranch near Hanna to the Calgary Stampede grounds. Scott is always impressed with the CS committee’s ability to pull off such an event as the trail drive. “Who else but the Calgary Stampede could put on a trail drive like this! The organization, the camp fires, the meals - it is first class allt he way.” he says. Calgary Stampede Ranch Manager and Arena Director, Robin Burwash, holds high praise for Scott over the years he has known him, calling him an “ambassador for the rodeo cowboy.” He considers Scott’s role in these trail drives crucial. As the co-ordinator for the guest wranglers, Scott must supply the the horses that have to drive the 200 head CS bucking string along the trails. As Burwash says, driving hroses is much different than driving cattle. “With horses you have to lead them more or less, you have to be able to set the pace and hold them back. They may never break out of an extended trot after the first day out,” he explains.The 18 guest wranglers of this years six-day trail drive, will be paying $15,000 each for the privilege of participating on the historical ride, with the proceeds going to the Calgary Stampede Foundation, which has a focus of Youth Programs. Sadly, the 2005 trail drive could possibly be the last of its kind as the growth of the city has made it increasingly difficult to navigate traffic enroute to the grounds. The horses and wranglers will arrive in the city on a Sunday to avoid some of that traffic. As commerically engaged as John Scott Motion Picture Animals is, Scott says the Calgary Stampede Parade, with its 350,000 enroute attendance and some 35 milion television viewers, is still one of the busiest days of the year for him. He and his wranglers will supply over 100 head of the 700 or so horses stepping down this year’s parade route. Hal Wetherup, Calgary Stampede Parade Committee Chairman gives much credit to Scott for the safety of the show. “John has been the Stampede Parade’s principal stock supplier as long as I can remember. Without a suitable supply of parade-broke horses, accomplishing such a feat, while maintaining our incredible record for the safety of our spectators and participants, would be virtually impossible,” he says, further explaining that organization and matching horses to riders become super-critical skills at such a venue. “A properly broke horse, in the traditional sense, is sometimes insufficient for use in such a large urban parade. With the thousands of cheering people along the route, the marching bands, strange sights and sounds, walking on asphalt between towering skyscrapers - all that can be a challenging situation for may horses. The training expertise of John and his staff shows itself how well prepared his mounts are for such environments. Many of our Parade Marshalls, as well as international riding groups hire his mounts for their use in the Parade. The vast majority of these - both experienced and novice riders - meet up with their mounts only the morning before the parade begins. It is vital each horse arrives healthy, well prepared for the parade route and suitably saddled in reliable tack. John’s company does that very well indeed,” continues Wetherup. A steadfast pride of his western roots may be much of what drives John Scott, particularly, when it comes time to selling the cinematic potential of Alberta’s landscape to film producers. His love of the traditional lifestyle of the cowboy on the range, may also be why the words to this ol-time-poem, hit the right buttons for this cowboy.
From left: Scott organizing a day of filming; buffalo wranglers and John near Drumheller; on the set of Into the West.
Gathering cattle in the fall
From left: branding at the Scott ranch and filming Little House on the Prairie, also at the ranch
From left: Jimmy Dodds, Darcy Sawley, Scott and Guy Poirer
Hoppy, Gene & Me, We taught you how to shoot straight, And a cowboy never cries, That’s how it had to be, Just stories from the Silver Screen, Now most of them forgotten Double feature Saturdays With Hoppy, Gene and Me. - Roy Rogers Silver Screen Cowboys
JOHN SCOTT PRODUCTIONS | P.O. Box 33. Longview, Alberta, T0L 1H0 CANADA | 403-816-0001 | firstname.lastname@example.org