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Why the credits don't say no animals were harmed
ONE of the most dangerous scenes in the filming of "Sahara" involved a stunt man jumping off the backs of racing camels onto a moving train. The sequence was complicated by the refusal of the Malian mammals to run long distances.
"You have to keep hitting it and kicking it to keep it going," director Breck Eisner said on the "Sahara" DVD. It's "a very physical thing."
Although the actual jumps were performed by a trained camel master, there was no independent safety officer on hand during the filming of "Sahara" to monitor the treatment of more than 100 camels, horses, donkeys and other animals. That's because producers of the $160-million movie opted not to pay a $30 hourly rate plus travel and other expenses, said Karen Rosa, director of the American Humane Assn.'s film and television unit. As a result, the film's credits could not include a statement certifying that "no animals were harmed" in the making of the movie. "Sahara" executives said they were not required to use the American Humane Assn. because the production was based in Britain. "No animals were injured during the shooting of the film, and professional animal trainers were used," one executive said about "Sahara." He declined to be identified.
The animal-welfare organization assigns safety officers at no cost to about 900 U.S. films annually. "We've learned after doing this for 67 years," Rosa said, "that you need to be there to know the level of care the animals receive."
Animals and handlers
Riders and grooms...$79,748
Stabling and transport...$53,989
Horse and camel master...$51,638