American by birth, C.M.Smith moved to live in Vancouver,before making the “The Snow Walker”. His most notable roles as anactor are “Toady” in George Lucas’s “American Graffiti” andthe “ill-fated accountant Oscar Wallace” in Brian De Palma’s”The Untouchables”. Directing career has brought him the worldwideacclaim.
The film “Air Bud” which he directed won the Golden ReelAward. Made it one of the top grossedfilm ever made in Canada.In the film, Canadian actors played leading roles.
Smithwas impressed by Barry Pepper’s performance as a baseball player “RogerMaris” in the television movie “61” and invited him to theprimary role as Charlie Halliday. Like his hero in the film, Pepper has astrong sense of adventure. When he was a child, his family sailed five years inthe waters of the South Pacific. “It takes a lot of courage,” hesays, “for a mother and father of three little boys to build a 50-footsailboat and say, “We are going to sail halfway around the world bycelestial navigation, the same way Columbus did.
And we are going to teach youabout life. ” A kind of Robinson Crusoe meets National Geographic.” “Saving Private Ryan”, Pepper played”Bible-quoting sniper”, was a life-changing film for him and continuedworking with Tom Hanks in “The Green Mile”. Pepper performed in bigHollywood production like Seven Pounds, Enemy of the State, We Were Soldiersand etc. Pepper says about the movie that “what developedwas a collective collaborative family, something he’d never experienced beforeon a set. People would really go the extra mile to try and find the perfectprop, like the pocketknife that is the only one that my character would carry.They didn’t just go out into the back of their truck and find you some piece ofjunk they used in another film.
They’d really put some love into it becausethey cared about you as a person”The most challenging part was finding the femaleco-star. He has been advised to use Asian actress as the main protagonist.Smith was looking for a young woman who could speak Inuktitut and had knowledgeof traditional ways to act Kanaalaq. Flyers have been posted and advertisements took out in local newspapersthroughout the northern communities.
“I was confident that we could findsomebody,” Smith recalls. “but the difficulty was that they, theInuit, are, generally speaking, a reticent people. I knew that if we were to goup there and contact the people in the villages in the Far North and say ‘Weare looking for an actor,’ no one would respond because they don’t answer thoseads.” It took six months until casting director met her at the local danceclub and elected after reviewed thousands of young Inuit girls. Most of themwere non-actors like Piugattuk. She has been chosen for her bilingual languageknowledge in her native language and English.
Hunting ability and survivaltechniques brought believability to her role.Several Inuit people have been recruited as extras andthe John Houston, co-producer of the movie, is one of the Inuit people and grewup in a native village.”The Snow Walker” was filmed in northern Canadianlands, with breathtaking wildlife, sparse wilderness, and crystal clear lakes.Sometimes those places were dangerous. Even the director forced to shut downthe shooting for some days due to the storm of the gigantic horseflies, called”bulldogs,” and the infamous northern mosquitoes. Tundra scenes madein Churchill, Manitoba, caribou hunt in Merritt, British Columbia, aeroplanecrash and other scenes in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut and Thompson-Nicola RegionalDistrict, British Columbia.
Winter scenes were filmed in -28 C with wind chillsgoing down to -45 C was part of it. “There were days it was soexcruciatingly cold that you thought that your ears were literally going tocrack off the side of your head,” Pepper recalls. “When I came homeall the skin peeled off my ears like they had been sunburned. It came off likea lizard’s skin, and they said it was from the frostbite.” The score of the movie is composed by Michael Dannaand Paul Intson. Elements of ethnic Inuit instruments and music been placed bytwo composers into this themes, including the Native American flute Sonoran,percussion and throat singing.
We can feel Inuit special flute sound in allover “Kanaalaq’s Touch”. Symphonic underscoring nicely blends in withthe incorporated elements of exotic additions which emphases the Canadian richwilderness where Charlie meets with the tribal savagery of”Mosquito”, “Caribou Hunt” and “Charlie in theWilderness” which plays without dialogue in the film.