In January of 1925, stoic Norwegian Leonhard Seppala braced for the storm of the century as he set out on a dogsled led by his loyal husky Togo from Nome, Alaska. It was a desperate, life-risking trek to pick up a serum to battle a diphtheria outbreak in his adopted hometown.
In early October of 2018, stoic director Ericson Core and the cast and crew of the adventure film Togo set out to shoot in Kananaskis when Alberta was struck by, you guessed it, the storm of the century. Was it welcomed as a happy coincidence by a filmmaker striving for ultimate authenticity? No, it was actually ironically ill-timed. At this point in the shoot, the plan was to capture some relatively tranquil fall flashback sequences involving Seppala, his wife and an adorably mischievous puppy-aged Togo at their rustic homestead.
“It was the biggest storm in 105 years,” says Core, in a recent interview from Cochrane prior to a private screening of Togo for local crew and vendors. “It obliterated our beautiful autumn and fall colours and put snow at the beginning. So our schedule was flipped upside down.”
It was a bit of a recurring theme, or nightmare, during the shoot. In Alberta, Mother Nature is more than capable of providing filmmakers with whatever blizzardy extremes are required, but only on her own terms. As Core notes in promotional material for the film: “When we were meant to shoot summer scenes, it became winter. When we were trying to shoot winter, it became summer.”