Wild America

Wild America is a film about Marshall an eleven year old boy and the adventures that he, Marty and Mark, his two older brothers, experience while growing up. Marshall is always the Guinea pig for his brother's experiments and they conduct a lot of them. The boys have a great love for animals and the outdoors, which they acquired from their mother. As long as they can remember, she was always adopting any stray animal that happened upon their farm, everything from dogs, cats, goats, and an injured owl. The owl was Marshall's favorite pet and while the animal was recuperating he could always be found in Marshall's presence.

  • Starring: Johnathan Taylor Thomas, Devon Sawa, Scott Bairstow
  • Director(s): William Dear
  • Producer(s): Mark Stouffer
  • Screenwriter(s): David Michael Wieger
  • Distributor: Warner Brothers
  • Release Date: Friday, March 28, 1997

Featured Animal Action

When the boys are traveling the countryside one summer filming animals in the wild, they decide to find the cave of the sleeping bears. The bears wake up and find the boys in their cave. One of the bears chases Marshall through the cave, clawing through a wall in an attempt to get to the boy. This scene was shot in cuts with the bears working separately on set. Mechanical bears and mechanical bear claws were used during filming. The filming was done on an inside set with a fake hot wire placed around the area that the bears worked in. When the bear is seen clawing at the wall, the trainer placed the bear on his mark and gave him a verbal command to stand and strike the wall. The trainer then gave a verbal command followed with food to climb over the broken wall and into the cave. The wall was made of Styrofoam and a stunt double was used for the actor. The mechanical bears were used in all scenes when the scene called for the actor to be in close proximity to the bears. As the boys first enter the cave, they come upon a group of snakes on the floor of the cave, barring their way. They throw a coat over the snakes and quickly walk over them. As Marshall is walking across the coat, one of the snakes head is seen as it rattles at him as if it is going to strike. This scene was shot in cuts, using several different camera angles. A wrangler placed real and animatronic snakes on the cave floor. Ten pythons were placed at the rear of the cave and the rattle snakes were placed close to the front. Several wranglers were strategically positioned around the area to keep the snakes in the designated area. As a safety precaution all holes and cracks were filled prior to filming the scene. Earlier on the boys excursion, they come across a baby moose in the woods. Marshall approaches the baby and pets him. The mother moose approaches and starts running towards Marshall as he attempts to retreat to safety. Just when he thinks he is going to make it, he feels himself being picked up by the moose's horns. The moose and Marshall are next seen in the rapids and then the moose is seen walking out of the water without Marshall. The scene was shot in several cuts. A mule in costume (fake horns) were used for the moose and a colt was used for the baby moose. When Marshall is seen touching the baby, the colt was on a light line and food was used to keep him near the actor. The colt's mother was also on set at all times. When the moose is seen chasing Marshall, a mule was used and the actor called to him with food given as a reward. For the shot of the boy on the moose's horns, a dummy was placed on the horns that the mule was wearing and he ran from point A to B. Additional wranglers were strategically placed around the area. For the shot of the moose entering and leaving the river, the mule was led into the river by a horse and wrangler. The boys take a break from their trip and stop in a desert area to try and find some shade from the blistering sun. Marshall is up on a small hill acting as a look out for any animals that might happen by when he sees a doe. Marshall calls for his brothers and as they approach they see a wolf descending on the doe. Just as the wolf is about to attack, a blast goes off in the distance and both animals run in different directions. The boys unknowingly stumbled upon a military testing site of some kind. The scene was shot in cuts. The wolf and doe were not filmed at the same time. Two wolves were used for this scene. The trainer released the wolf to run A to B with food as a reward. The deer was filmed before a blue screen and on set. The trainer lead the deer to the water-hole with food treats. The deer was very tame. As a safety precaution, an AHA representative and the animal handler both stood on the animals marks while explosives were set off, ensuring that they were properly distanced from where the animals would be placed. While the explosion scared the wolf and doe away, it also started a horse stampede. Before the boys know what is happening, a stampede of horses is heading directly towards their truck. Ten wranglers herded 75 horses through a trail approximately 250 yards. As the horses passed the truck, the vehicle slowly backed up, approximately 20ft. With the use of special camera angles the truck looks as if it is backing up at a faster speed. The boys stumble upon a cabin in the snowy woods and meet Carrie, the woman that ultimately leads them to the cave of the sleeping bears. When they first approach the cabin, a horse is seen in a coral. Later when the boys follow Carrie to the cave, she is seen riding up to the cave on the horse and then a few minutes later riding away. When the actor is seen riding up to the cave, the trainer placed her on the horse and she rode him a short distance A to B. A wrangler/stunt-double is the one actually riding the horse when the actor is leaving the cave area. When the horse is seen in the coral, a wrangler out of camera range was holding hay and the horse walked towards it. There is a scene in a camera shop when Mark is looking at a dog and he turns into a lion. This scene was shot in cuts. The dog was placed in a down/stay position by the trainer with a food reward. Then the lion was placed on the same mark that the dog had been on and with verbal and hand signals the trainer cued the lion to turn his head and roar. When the lion was being led to and from the set, all non essential personnel were removed from the area. Extra security and wranglers were strategically positioned around the area. There is a scene where the boys are in the swamp and Marshall goes into the water to retrieve a fallen flashlight when an alligator enters the murky waters. The alligator is seen chasing Marshall as he swims towards the boat. Marshall, in an attempt to avoid the alligator's open mouth, tosses his flashlight inside, distracting the animal long enough for the boys to pull him to safety. This scene was shot in cuts using a real and a mechanical alligator. Eight wranglers were strategically placed around the perimeter along with safety lines in place. The alligator was not in the swamp water for more than several seconds at a time and not farther than a distance of thirteen feet. For a safety precaution the alligator's mouth was wired and taped. In several scenes, at their home, various animals such as a dog, a duck, a rabbit, a cat, a fawn, an owl, and some puppies are seen sitting on the porch, the bed, couch, chair or being held by an actor. For all of these scenes the animals were placed on their mark and the trainer either cued the animal with verbal or hand signals or in some cases used a monofilament tie down to keep the animal in place. There are a few scenes where the owl is seen perched on various objects or flying from A to B. The trainer placed the owl on his mark and cued him with verbal and hand signals with food as a reward. Some of the owl action was filmed before a blue screen and inserted during post-production.