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Mountain filming for Winslet and Elba survival story

Kate Winslet and Idris Elba filmed survival story The Mountain Between Us on remote peaks in British Columbia.

The Mountain Between Us

Kate Winslet and Idris Elba filmed survival movie The Mountain Between Us on location in the mountains of south-east British Columbia, Canada.

The film tells the story of two strangers who must work together to make it back to civilisation when their light aircraft crashes on a remote mountain peak.

“All the exterior mountain locations were filmed in the Purcell Mountains in the south-east corner of British Columbia,” says Robin Mounsey, the film’s location manager, in comments to KFTV. 

“The Purcell Mountains are the range directly to the west of the Rockies with peaks in the 11,000-ft range. [The] tree-line is at about 7,500 ft so there is a range of about 3,000 ft where there are no trees.”

For more on filming in British Columbia and for local contacts see our production guide

Producers chose the Purcell range partly because of the dramatic visuals, but also because the southerly location meant they offered more daylight hours during the winter, as well as relatively stable weather patterns.

The team used two remote mountain towns about 170 miles from Calgary as production bases. Cast and crew were taken onto the peaks by helicopter, along with components of the plane crash wreck set that were anchored to the rocks. 

Whenever the weather closed in, everyone stayed at the lower altitudes and filmed scenes that didn’t require snowy mountain visuals.

The Mountain Between Us“This combination was critical to the success of making this movie possible using the high mountain locations during good weather and allowing an uninterrupted filming schedule during poor weather,” Mounsey tells KFTV.

One of the central challenges was organising effective communications between the mountain peak locations, the production base and the helicopters, especially given that the team travelled on roads where loggers were also using radios.

Radio repeaters boosted signals from the team’s vehicles and a portable tower was set up at the production base for mobile phone connectivity.

Mounsey has a lot of experience of filming in remote locations, with his CV including Alejandro G Inarritu’s Oscar-winning survival feature The Revenant, which shot mainly in Alberta, not all that far from where The Mountain Between Us was made. He has also worked on the upcoming movie Alpha, again a survival story but this time set thousands of years ago during the last Ice Age.

“For someone in my position it is critical I have an experienced and prepared crew to manage all the locations, safety and helicopters, and ultimately a production plan that is wholly supported by our director, 1st AD and producers,” says Mounsey.  

“This was all there [on The Mountain Between Us] with superb crews in all departments and a first-class director and production team, and was the backbone of the success of filming in such environments.”

Images: Kimberley French/Twentieth Century Fox