Posted by: Jerry Garrett | January 27, 2012

Where Was “The Grey” Filmed & Do Wolves Really Live There?

Official trailer for “The Grey”


The thriller “The Grey”depicts what happens after a planeload of Alyeska oil pipeline workers crash into the Alaska wilderness somewhere. Without wishing to give away too much of the “plot” here, let’s say it’s another public relations debacle for the grey wolf.

Power lunch with Liam Neeson (Open Road Films)

The top questions of movie-goers seem to be:

1. Where was the movie filmed?

2. Are there really wolves there?

Not a frame of the movie, it turns out, was filmed in Alaska. (This, even though critics in the state point out Alaska offers very generous credits to filmmakers.) This has some Alaskans grumbling about “The Grey” perpetuating Hollywood’s long tradition of erroneously depicting life in the state. (Wolves are also howling!) In fact, one reviewer nominated “The Grey” for inclusion on his list of the five worst cinematic depictions of Alaska. Competition in this category is fierce; the current leaders are “The Edge” (1997), “The Simpsons Movie” (2007), North to Alaska (1960), “The Proposal” (2009), “On Deadly Ground” (1994) – none of which were filmed in Alaska!

To add insult to Alaska’s perceived injury? “The Grey” was filmed entirely in British Columbia, Canada.

Principal photography was done in the city of Vancouver and the ski resort of Whistler, about 80 miles north of Vancouver. The wilderness scenes were mostly shot in Smithers – an outpost in northern British Columbia, on the road between Prince George and Prince Rupert. (Filming there was conducted in January 2011 – during a month of sub-zero temps!)

What about the wolf population there? Not much of a factor, I’m afraid. There have been reports of wildlife attacking humans in the wilds of British Columbia, but the attackers are most often moose – not wolves.

Beautiful Bulkley Valley (Jane Hoek via Panoramio)

I visited Smithers – a tiny gem in the Bulkley Valley – back in 2004, on a drive from Anchorage to Seattle; I stopped to re-fuel there. A group of Harley-Davidson riders from North Carolina stopped about the same time, and we got chatting with the unusually pretty gas station attendant about wildlife in the area. The bikers had just returned from a fruitless journey to Hyder, Alaska, in search of bears feeding off the salmon run.

There were no salmon, nor bears, there.

“You want bears?” the attendant asked. “Go over to the city dump here. There are all the bears you ever want to see there.”

The bikers took note of her directions to the city dump, and rode off.

“The bears are a real problem here,” she said of Smithers, which has a population of about 5,000. “We’re surrounded by a provincial park here, so they are protected from hunters, and their numbers proliferate. There’s a lot of competition for food among them, I guess. They don’t have a lot of fear about coming down into town here and foraging for food.”

Smithers' dancing cubs (HQ Bulkley Valley)

The locals don’t hesitate to blast away at them, when the bears become a nuisance. (The community does care about wildlife, though; Smithers is home to the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter that rescues injured or orphaned wildlife.)

But what about wolves?

They exist in the wilderness around Smithers, but they don’t constitute a problem. In fact, to find wolves for the film, the film crew had to contact a trapper who sold them four wolf carcasses, for use as props – and dinner. (Yes, the actors really did eat wolf meat!)

Generally, Hollywood does a great disservice to the wolf. It is not the savage man-eating predator we see in most wolf-slasher horror films. They are a natural part of the food chain in the wilderness; they help maintain a healthy balance between herds of deer and other wildlife. They tend to run away from humans, rather than attack them. The only balanced and correct cinematic depiction of the nature of wolves that I know of was the 1983 movie “Never Cry Wolf“. Highly recommended.

That film, by the way, was actually shot in Alaska!

Jerry Garrett

January 27, 2012


  1. I thought the movie was terrible. Also hated the testing and disgust toward God

    • If you were stuck in that situation, you’d ask God for help too. Then when you get your ass mauled by wolves (because they don’t like your ass) then you’d question whether God was watching or not.

    • What exactly made the movie terrible? I personally thought it was an excellent movie, and Liam Neeson made the movie that much better. Such a great actor. I’m from Terrace, which is 2hrs west of Smithers, where the movie was filmed. The scenery, although you don’t see much of it, is actually quite breathtaking. What testing and disgust toward God are you speaking of? I’m sorry but in situations as the ones depicted in this movie, it isn’t God that’s going to hold your hand through it. You have to earn God’s acknowledgement, recognize it, and act upon it. Personally I’m too old to have an “imaginary friend”, and I think you are too.

      • I rather like this film too & watched it again last night, really don’t care what these nay sayers have to say about it. It’s a good story of survival. Liam is one of my favorite actors too.

      • It seems to have an enduring fan base. A very popular Red Box and Netflix selection…

    • I agree. I kept thinking they were going to play God into it because they kept hinting, but come on, it was a swear fest of a movie. It’s definitely not one I would want my son to see for that reason.

      • Seems like there might be better ways to tell a tale, that more people can enjoy. They seem to have limited their audience with the production choices they made.



  2. I enjoyed the movie, because that is all it is “A Movie” not a real life adventure, not a documentry “A MOVIE”!!!!… People who complain about content, where it was shot, how it depicts people or animals, you need to just stay home and watch discovery channel. I go for the entertainment, which is what it is intended. I know wolves do not behave like that, many documentries have been done showing that. He it does have a happy ending… heheheheh

    • Hope you stayed through the credits!

  3. This film failed on so many levels. I don’t understand all the positive reviews. It’s nice to see accurate information. Thanks for the good blog article.

    • Not exactly a date movie, was it? Fail.

    • Imagine if ALL movies were “accurate”. BOOOOOORRRIIIING. Let’s watch a movie about wolves that f#ck off as soon as they see a human. Then, let’s watch a bunch of humans die from hypothermia after a plane crash for three days. Roll credits, cheque is in the mail. I don’t understand how Inception got rave reviews. No one can go into other peoples dreams. That is inaccurate. WAIT no it wasn’t. Wasn’t there a wolf f#ucking off in the distance during the winter dream stage as soon as he saw Sato?

  4. […] in the Yukon. Background information (geography, geology, history, and mineral deposits) as well . Where Was “The Grey” Filmed & Do Wolves Really Live There … Without wishing to give away too much of the “plot” here, let's say it's another public […]

  5. I took my wife to see it on Valentine’s Day. The other poor guys had to see The Vow. My wife, therefore, is cooler. The Grey had it’s moments, but we thought it was depressing.

    • Your wife is definitely a good sport. Now you ought to take her to see “The Vow” to make it up to her! No wait, that’s too extreme. Maybe you can do enough penance by watching 30 minutes of The View”.

  6. Actually, I am surprised by the number of films shot in Vancouver. Your article inspired me to find out more about this topic. I did not know that pieces such as Twilight, or Butterfly Effect were filmed in Vancouver. Nice to hear that so many filmmakers decide to shoot here!

    • Many DVDs, TV movies and series are also shot in Vancouver.

    • NO, I’m from Los Angeles and I’m a “set medic”, it’s NOT good to hear that so many filmmakers decide to shoot up in Canada. It promotes runaway production for us below the line people here in California. Movie industry actually started in New Jersey, but migrated to California where HOLLYWOOD was established and is home to many major film companies who should respect the business and shoot films in California, not on location! Established gaffers, grips, set medics, boom operators, lighting people are losing their homes and livlehoods because of tax breaks and greed!

  7. I thought The Descendants was going to be the worst movie I’d see this year. Just home from seeing The Grey and it’s now leading. Liam Neeson’s acting toward the end was the only saving grace, that and the beautiful scenery. Dumb if you couldn’t recognize it as being anywhere else but Alaska.

    • Not Alaska however , it is Smithers, BC Canada.

  8. I stayed through all the credits. I was surprised, he actually killed the alpha male wolf on home turf. Well done Irishman. Now you’re still lost and wet though…

  9. Kind of ironic that Never Cry Wolf was shot in Alaska since the location in Farley Mowatt’s book is supposed to be in the Barrenlands in Nunavut, Canada huh?

  10. Well, actually, a portion of The Grey was filmed in Edmonton; which is not in British Columbia. Edmonton is in Alberta, so while still in Canada, it is not accurate to say that the entire movie was filmed in British Columbia.

  11. Yup I can confim it some was made in Edmonton, Alberta. Strathcona BUT USA just likes saying British Columbia. LOL! the best side of the rocky mountains is in Alberta NOT British Columbia !

  12. I live in Smithers. No, the bears are not that much of a problem… and no we are not surrounded by a provincial park, although there are few within a few hundred km of us. The movie was shot up on a mountain beside Hudson Bay mountain, which is our ski/boarding mountain. They gave the pretend plane used in the movie to smithers to be used for training fire fighters here.

    • Beautiful country up there! Thanks for writing.


  14. BTW, there are wolves in that area. I worked in a hunting camp there and a pack of 8 wolves surrounded the hunters. The wolves got withing 15-20 of each person there and they ended up killing 6 of the wolves ton

    • To protect themselves. This was not because they wanted to kill the wolves at all. That was only one pack within that 4 mile radius. Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

  15. Well i liked the movie but after educating myself on the nature of wolves and Alaska afterwards i have to admit….i was a little upset and happy at the reality. Upset that movies are so convincing that they’ll have people not smart enough to read for themselves believe that this shit is real and i was happy because i found out that wolves are not running around Smithers OR Alaska hunting down humans and attacking them. Thank God! lmao!!

    • Now we only have to worry about zombies!

  16. Why is is so simportant to some for a movie to be filmed at the location it depicts? It was totally believable to me – the moviemakers did an excellent job of it. And…isn’t that what movies are all about? If you want reality watch the news or nature channels, in as much as those are real. It really irks me when I read this sort of stuff – people complaining about location and accuracy – makebelieve!!! Lighten-up! And…btw, I don’t know of a movie acrually being short in heaven or hell for that matter!! Complain about that too why don’t you.

    • Well, your point is well taken. A movie succeeds best when it is successfully able to transport you away from reality, and make you feel as if you were really THERE (wherever THERE might be).

  17. Blaa Blaa Blaa, Who cares about alaska and the wolves. it was one of the best movies I have ever seen. It ain’t everyone’s cup of tea . Its about a mans struggle with his past, fears and daemons.. Too many happy endings in movies these days this one was perfect. The Grey reminds you that life is short, sometimes shit does happen but you can fight for it.. The movie was different , it took you on a journey and engaged the characters . The first time I watched this movie I was on a 16 Hour flight and it was the only thing that took me away from the reality of an uncomfortable economy seat. It actually added to the suspense when the plane went down. Other movies offered on the plane just seemed so bland compared to the Grey. Those people who didn’t like the movie should stick to there romcoms . Liam goes hard. All the characters were good in there own way. One of my fav movies ever.

  18. Anyone who cries wolf and says they are depicted badly has never had any experience with them. I lived in a small town called Stewart north of Smithers about 200 miles and we had wolves that took our friends miniature pinscher right off the leash 5 feet away from him, they killed another friends flock of ducks and geese. Numerous dogs and cats also disappeared in early morning hours. My wife went out with our miniature daschund and a big black wolf sat and watched her from not more than 30 ft away until she came back in the house. All you bleeding heart do gooders in Hollyweird should spend some time in reality instead of living in the artificial world’s you create.

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