Local 706 - The Artisan

Winter 2019

Issue link: http://digital.copcomm.com/i/1076112

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Page 43 of 47

44 • THE ARTISAN WINTER 2019 Ken: Yes, that's the one. Roar was a story about a family going to Africa to meet their father, who lives with wild lions. We shot this film at a movie ranch in Acton, California, where they had assembled something like 150 untrained lions, tigers, leopards, cougars and other assorted wild animals. There were so many animal-related injuries during the mak- ing of this movie, it seemed like someone was being sent to the hospital every week. On the first day of shooting, our lead actor/director was bitten through the hand while filming a scene of him break- ing up a lion fight. There was no on-set medic present and I had to jump in, use my Boy Scout first-aid training to stop his arterial bleeding. Then several months later, our DP Jan de Bont was film- ing in a trench, hiding under a camouflage net, as a group of lions were forced to run over the top of camera. One of the lions took a swipe at him, ripping his scalp open from ear to ear. He and his assistant were in danger from the other lions, as well. I was the closest one to camera and the only one who could see what was happening, so I took off running toward the lions, screaming and swinging my cane (not a make-up tool) at them, scaring them backward, away from the trench. After that incident, I was entrusted to become an additional lion handler and eventually, the head ostrich wrangler. I had worked on the film for over a year and had managed to avoid any type of injury until the day that two of the crew members had been feeding the ostriches. The lead ostrich went crazy and attacked them. One guy got out and the other, Johnny, was lying face down in the dirt. The ostrich was out for blood and hell-bent protecting his harem. I entered the cage, screamed out a war cry, charged the ostrich and managed to chase him away from Johnny. The ostrich, who was usually afraid of me, was now pumped full of hor- mones, turned back toward me and started kicking. The fight was on. He got in a kick to my right leg, then I was able to leap up and hook my right arm around his neck. I started punching him in the chest with my left hand as he was trying to run me across the fence. I was beginning to run out of gas, so with one last punch and a kick off the fence, I was able to send him running back to his harem. In the end, I limped back to Johnny and we got out of the pen. Working on Roar for a year and a half was very much like attending a graduate film school. I learned so much. Not only did I do make-up, hair and animal wrangling, but I also did prop building, grip work, lighting and using my culinary arts training. I also replaced the caterer for one day. Making this movie was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Since then, Ken has worked on over 80 feature films on locations all around the world with many of the industry's top directors, actors and actresses. Whether it's beauty or beast, Ken does it all and with great style, creating some of the most lasting images on the big screen for the last 40 years. •

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