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Behind the Scenes of Pumas: Legends of the Ice Mountains

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Go behind the scenes of Pumas: Legends of the Ice Mountains. The filmmakers immersed themselves in the frigid climate of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park to film this unique family line of pumas.

- [Man] I've always wanted to trek like this in search of pumas.

It's a kind of bucket list thing.

This is a film about pumas, but also about a magical place called Torres del Paine.

- [Woman] We wove the story around two main mythological characters.

The ancient cultures here considered condors to be the messengers of the gods to the heavens, but it is mainly about pumas.

- [Man] It is where Latin American nature is at it's most extravagant, showing off in a way you just don't expect here.

- [Woman] Casey Anderson championed this project, and he and the crew were lucky enough to go in season after season.

And it was hard not to point cameras at the towering blue mountains.

They are as much of a character as the condors and others.

- [Man] The wind is so fierce here it'll rip your pants off, and almost float an 80 kilogram cameraman.

- [Woman] But Casey and the crew are here for a very specific reason.

(bird calling) To follow a very unique bloodline of pumas.

- [Casey] We really wanted to show what is quite rare in the puma world, a family quite comfortable being seen during the day, and we did.

The main character we call Cazadora is magical.

Well, all Pumas are magical, really.

They're considered to be all the way back in time as ruling the lower realm, the land.

I've spent decades with mountain lions or pumas, and I've never seen anything like this.

Pumas out during the day, walking past us as if we don't exist.

(intense instrumental music) (solemn instrumental music) - [Man] Rene, one of the key producers, was really out there during the time as well.

- [Rene] This is my place.

I've known these pumas for years, and I know how hard it is to follow.

Mostly, it's on foot.

It's tough going, and a lot of the time while we are searching, they are watching us.

- [Man] And Grant, on the Phantom high-speed camera.

He's not from here, so it was all new for him.

- [Grant] I didn't mind it, but I'm from sunny South Africa, how do you think I got along?

I live on a beach, I arrived here in flip-flops.

I'm having the time of my life.

I have never seen a puma before.

- [Woman] Thank goodness they were spare boots in camp.

This is one of the harshest places on the planet.

- [Casey] We used every tool in the toolkit to give the film a cinematic feel.

(puma groaning) - [Man] We had the most wonderful and talented Chilean crew working alongside Casey, Dom, and Ben from the States, and of course, Grant from Africa.

It was the United Nations of film crews, but each with a different talent, and it paid off.

(solemn instrumental music) - This is a cat that we've been trying to find for a couple of weeks now.

We've been observing her, filming her for the last two, three years almost, so it's good to see that she's okay, and it's good to see that the four cubs are up there on the hill, and they seem fine.

- [Woman] Much of this was about following cubs to be able to tell that story of the next generation.

(suspenseful instrumental music) - [Casey] But my goodness, these are tough conditions.

Ben and Dom are indeflatable.

- [Woman] When you get stuck in a snow drift out here, it really is a life or death moment when gale force blizzards pick up in an instant.

(solemn instrumental music) - Yeah, we'll pick up where we left off.

We had a great day yesterday.

I feel like the kittens are probably about the cutest things I've ever seen.

We always can get the pumas that come in from to the area, come down from the hills specifically, so lots of chances.

A lot of unknown.

We got some snow, it's gonna be cold, but it's gonna be fun.

(man coughing) (intense instrumental music) - [Rene] It's hard to not make Torres del Paine look beautiful, a layer of pumas, and we all just fell in love.

And add to that, these relaxed cats that will carry on, even hunt, in front of you, and it seems perfect.

- [Woman] The place is just so beautiful.

It begs to be in the film as a character as well.

- [Casey] We had Ben on the movie, and there was this moment where our female was looking like she was on a hunt.

She was ready to make a kill.

(suspenseful instrumental music) But just then, she went out of sight, and all of a sudden, Ben is like a guanaco himself.

He is running, chasing the action, disappears over the hill.

And he actually films a large guanaco getting attacked and killed by our cat.

(intense instrumental music) It's a great moment, and he got it all.

- [Man] We were all pleased that the puma did kill the guanaco.

If not, she would have been looking up and have noticed Ben.

That would've been a pity.

We like Ben.

(soft instrumental music) - This is amazing.

We have the four cubs here in front of us.

They are playing, running.

They want to sniff to the kill.

All of the four cubs are hanging out all around the place in front of us.

It's amazing.

- [Man] It's also about passing on that knowledge of these puma bloodlines generation after generation.

And we really all, everyone involved, hope that this film can be used to further conservation, and to enhance protection of this land of the pumas.

It is after all, the place where the fragility of nature, the pumas, and even our Earth, is so apparent.