12 Strong

Based on the true story of a Special Forces team deployed in Afghanistan after 9/11.

  • Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon
  • Director(s): Nicolai Fugsig
  • Producer(s): Jerry Bruckheimer, Thad Luckinbill, Trent Luckinbill, Molly Smith  
  • Screenwriter(s): Ted Tally, Peter Craig, Doug Stanton
  • Distributor: Warner Brothers
  • Animal Coordinator: Movin On Livestock
  • Release Date: Friday, January 19, 2018
  • Rating: Outstanding

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 horse(s) 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. Whenever horses were seen tied to posts/fences, they were attached to lead ropes tied to posts.



In the scene where we see a line of soldiers ride over a mountain ridge with a donkey in tow, three fans were set up behind the dunes. The effect was to simulate the helicopter wash. The fans were adjusted to blow sand for an area of approximately thirty feet, and not in the horses’ direction. The burros were led by costumed extras who have been vetted and instructed in the proper handling of the burros by wranglers. On action the column of soldiers/actors began riding towards camera. On cut, wranglers retrieved the burros and walked them back to the start point and then handed them off to the costumed extras.



In the scene where the Afghan soldiers arrive in the village on horseback and we see goats and donkeys in the background, prior to filming American Humane Representatives and wranglers walked the area where the group of horses were to be ridden and removed rocks and other debris. Also all the extras in the background working with the horses, burros and goats were wranglers in costume. The large group of horses were ridden by stunt riders and experienced horsemen. It was determined that four stunt riders would ride in fast, there was a lag time before the then the large group of riders came over the hill into camp at a slower pace. On cut the horsemen were allowed to return to the start point at there own slow pace. The horses were given water and food between takes.



In scenes when we see the line of soldiers riding along a mountainous ridge, a camera drone was used to film stunt doubles. The horses had been trailered to the set in the morning and were waiting at the trailers. When ready to work the stunt riders came to the trailers and were assisted by the wranglers in choosing and mounting their horses. The stunt riders and wranglers rode their horses to the start point.



The drone camera was positioned at the top of the hill. The stunt riders were in radio contact with the drone camera operator. The horsemen began there ride up the road and stopped at three separate points and waited while the drone reset either battery or lens then they proceeded up the road.



In the scene where the horse riders are on a ledge and see bombs going off in the distance, the bombs were not set off in the same vicinity as the horses.



In the first battle when the horse soldiers ride down a hill and go to battle with the Taliban, this scene included many special effects including bag bombs, fuel/fire bombs, dirt bombs, cork bullet hits, peat/diesel fires and butane smoke machines in use on the outdoor set. The bombs were all placed outside the circle of tanks where the horseback riders were working. The nearest bombs to set were the four ounce bag bombs which were approximately thirty feet from the nearest horses. The larger dirt and fuel bombs were placed no closer than forty yards from the nearest horses. The special effects coordinator was vey aware of the placement and action of the horses in the scene and based the timing of the bombs on the positioning of the horses. There was an abort plan if the horses veered from their path or did not reach their safe zone before the bombs were to be set off.



For this work there were only costumed stunt riders as the Afghan fighters and stunt doubles for the actors. All of the "Taliban" fighters on the ground were stunt men. The battle scenes were rehearsed many times. The stunt riders rode their horses through the set to get them familiar with it.



On action the stunt riders took up their positions and began riding around back and forth and circling pretending to be firing weapons. There were four stunt men on the ground that fired 1/4 load blanks in directions away from the horsemen. All the bombs were non-toxic and followed American Humane guidelines. There was a 20-30 minute rest for the horses while the SFX were reset. This was repeated for each take.



In the last battle when we see various horse falls this was an intense action scene with a "falling horse", stunt rigging, stuntmen on fire, a debris bomb, a propane fire bomb. There was a great deal of communication and planning between the stunts, the special effects teams and the wranglers prior to filming. The timing was set up so that when the horse ran out there would be no fire going.



The ground where the horse fell had been prepared by digging up a large area and adding an additional 10-12 inches of soft dirt and peat moss. The stuntman riding the "falling" horse had worked with the horse prior to this and the horse was properly trained to fall. The cue for the propane "fire bomb" was given to the SFX technician from stunt coordinator cueing it from the horse "fall". The "debris" bomb was 15ft from the "falling" horse and the propane "fire" bomb was 40ft from the falling horse.



There was a rig set up to jerk a stuntman on the ground to simulate his being blown away by the bomb. The rope for this went over the top of the area where the horse was to lying down. They ensured that the rope was not tied off so that in the event that the horse was to get tangled by the rope it would pull out and the horse could run free.



All safety measures were discussed. There were stuntmen assigned to the fire crew and they were responsible for the safety of the stuntmen that were set on fire. There were other stuntmen and wranglers positioned at camera and around the set for the safety of the "falling" horse. There was a wrangler positioned at the opposite side from the bombs with a safety/companion horse for the "Falling" horse to run to once the rider came out of the saddle.