soon as you see him, you know all you need to know about park rangers.
He really knows how to establish a character."
Smith seems to have an affinity for movies like Touching Wild Horses, having already worked, in one form or another, with a veritable Noah's ark of animals. "When I was a young actor, I did a few westerns, and certainly there was Never Cry Wolf, and the dog in Air Bud and I just finished a Hallmark miniseries called Roughing It with coyotes and chickens and pheasants and deer. "In this movie, I play the park ranger who manages this island and there's an uneasy truce between himself and Fiona," Smith explains. "Charles is somewhat of a self-serving guy and he's not particularly happy about having her there. There are constant run-ins, an abrasiveness that's been going on between the two of them for a while. And beside, I don't often get a chance to play the bad guy and I relish it."
Although his role is brief, Smith thoroughly enjoyed the experience. "Jane's really good," Smith says matter-of-factly. "It's like playing tennis. Actors always want to work opposite people where there is something happening and she's a delight. And Mark seems very relaxed. That's one of the hardest things to learn in acting. You can go all your life fighting for that and here's this 12 year-old kid who seems to have it naturally."
More than in most other films, the location for Touching Wild Horses was so pivotal to the plot that the landscape becomes a character in itself. Screenwriter, Murray McRae developed the idea in this manner, "Not only is the island represented very bleakly, but Mark's emotional life is very bleak and he has to come and live with his aunt who has never successfully dealt with a tragic event in her life. So the whole emotional infrastructure is hard and bleak like the island. And amongst this is a herd of horses who have learned how to survive beautifully because they have learned how to adapt." Murray continues, "The island takes on a personality, When Mark first sees it, it is dark and barren, but by the end it has transformed and has become a place of wonder."
Rob Vaughn, a Chesler/Perlmutter Co-Producer, explains how the location blended with the psychological arcs in the story, "The physical setting for Touching Wild Horses looks like Mark is landing on another planet. Eleanore Lindo used wide shots and the art director delivered a minimal set design to create an alienating quality. Nature and weather play a bigger role than simply background. You can see the weather on the buildings, on the objects the characters find, even on Fiona's face. The stone acts as a catalyst, These two people, Fiona and Mark, are strangers to each other; each is their own island. The hurricane throws them together and they have to survive. The weather changes the geography of the island and the emotional geography between these two."
Touching Wild Horses was shot in November, which meant daylight was limited. "This was inadvertently the greatest gift imaginable," says director of photography, Steve Danyluk. "We ended up shooting at the top of the morning and the end of the day which gave us miraculous light, so many more sun rises and sunsets than we originally planned. You couldn't have planned the arcs of mood and light better."