How ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ made farm animals mythic [Video]

It’s not easy creating mythical creatures on an indie-movie budget. But if you’re a savvy director, there’s always a way.

Benh Zeitlin, the New Orleans-based filmmaker behind “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” was facing just that problem for his Bayou-set drama. He needed to create the aurochs, ancient beats that exist in the mind of the 6-year-old protagonist. But he didn’t have the money to construct them digitally.

How did he get around it?

“We raised five potbelly pigs and taught them how to wear costumes,” Zeitlin told the audience at the Envelope Screening Series. The director then used footage of the animals in the moments when 6-year-old Hushpuppy enters a reveries worrying about what the creatures might do to her and her family. (You can watch video of the event above).

Of course, the hogs could only do certain things, so Zeitlin and his co-writer needed to write (or, in some cases, rewrite) scenes that suited their designated activities (moving on a treadmill, say, or lifting their heads slowly).

So were the pigs Method actors, or did they follow more of the Meisner School?


“They’re very focused creatures,” Zeitlin said. “As long as you promise them popcorn, they’re willing to go there with you.”


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