Take a look behind the scenes of the hit new film, Dream Horse – starring a whole herd of equine actors!
Earning a whopping 100% on rotten tomatoes and plenty of appraise from horse lovers worldwide, the hit new movie Dream Horse has become a smashing success – much like its four-legged protagonist! Released on May 21, 2021, this film tells the inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely racehorse bred by small town Welsh bartender, Jan Vokes (Academy Award® nominee Toni Collette). A lack of money and experience forces Jan to beg her community to support her in raising and training Dream to compete in the Welsh Grand National. Against all the odds, he becomes a great champion.
Thirteen dream horses
Most of us are familiar with the human stars that make up the leading cast of this film – but what about the equine stars? Not one but thirteen horses played the role of Dream, including Bo, the primary or “hero” acting horse. According to director Euros Lyn, the filmmakers partnered with a company called The Devils Horsemen who have an incredible track record of providing horses for the film and TV industry. “Knowing what we wanted from Dream at various points in the story, they helped source all the Dreams that you see in the film,” he says. “Bo was our hero acting horse, whose gentle nature we all fell in love with.”
The twelve other equine actors were used for different moments throughout the film. One, named Russell, was called upon whenever Dream galloped, while another three were great at the racing scenes. There were also stunt doubles, and two foals that played Dream in his younger years – his distinctive white blaze and socks were kept consistent with special horse makeup.
Bonding with Bo
As the hero acting horse, Bo developed a special bond with a few of the cast and crewmembers – including Toni Collette. “In the film we see Jan opening her heart to Dream,” says Euros. “While filming those scenes, I swear that Toni and Bo were spiritually in tune – he really was listening to her, and she was so enamoured by him that she explored taking him back to Australia with her at the end of the shoot.”
The supervising horsemaster, Camilla Naprous, also became quite connected to Bo. As the person responsible for training and preparing him for his scenes, she spent more time with Bo than anyone else on set. “My favorite thing about Bo is his calmness,” she says. “His training happened relatively quickly and he took it all in so calmly. He’s a great team player.”
These bonds came in handy during the filming process, which wasn’t always easy.
“Horses don’t really take direction, so the actors would do a take and if the horse wasn’t doing the right thing, we’d just have to wait until he was and try again,” says Euros. According to Camilla, positive reinforcement always helps in those types of situations. But Bo was often eager to perform even before he saw the treat bag!
Life on set
Throughout the shoot, many of the horse actors – including Bo – lived on set for stretches of time. Much of the movie was shot at racecourses, all of which had excellent stabling facilities. Living there made it easier for Bo and his doubles to perform when scenes were being filmed, since they were already comfortable in their environment.
In one particular scene, Bo had to lie down to feign an injury. For most horses, lying down on cue wouldn’t be an easy feat at any time, let alone when surrounded by actors, props and cameras. “When a horse lies down he is at his most vulnerable and instincts will tell him to get up quickly when he senses something around him,” says Camilla. “It takes a lot of trust between horse and trainer for the horse to stay lying down in that environment, and Bo was so trusting and performed perfectly.”
You may not be able to spot the difference between Bo, Russell and the other stars of Dream Horse, but one thing’s for sure – you’re bound to fall in love with the character they so seamlessly portray. Visit dreamhorsemovie.com to watch on demand today!