It took an army of Artists & Technicians working in shops, studios, garages, shipyards and in the bush five months of continuous labour to get this film made. I think at the time it broke all records in Vancouver for the largest picture ever made (maybe in Canada).. The major set, the Viking longhouse erected on Vancouver Island was 30 minutes by float plane from Vancouver. The main structure was built from timber collected from all over Vancouver Island. It was immense. The 'big house' was built on a hill and a village built around it. There were at least 60 buildings, roads and even a lake.
Wolfe Kruger, the production designer was a tough taskmaster, but a great designer. His designs called for a huge building with gable end windows like a gothic cathedral. The windows were to be like the woven branches of mythical Celtic knotwork, made to look as though it had been espaliered into the shape of the window openings. We made 9 of these window knotworks with one 20' long and 16' high. At the end above the kings throne. It was a very fun project. Wolfe was happy with them... or so I heard.
The 13th Warrior, based on Michael Critons novel 'The Eaters of the Dead' is set in an imaginary northern Scandinavia among forests, rain mountains & caves. The stories climax takes place underground in a labyrinth of caves with rivers and waterfalls. After months on Vancouver Island dealing with the longhouse we tackled the cavernous lair of the evil Wendol Queen. To create this huge set with its 50' waterfall, lake, passageways & bridges, it required that the surface treatment of the cave, the actual rock itself be quite realistic. To create this look I took mould impressions from exposed rock surfaces at Elk Falls on Vancouver Island.
It was here, at Elk Falls, that the Wendol bone huts were built with the 100 or so bear skulls that I had sculpted and cast for the set decoration department. Once moulds of the rocks were taken (the 4 moulds were of silicon rubber 10'x10') they were shipped back to Vancouver where polystyrene rigid foam was sprayed into the moulds making a rock textured panel which were assembled piece by piece over a light superstructure to give the cavern its rocky surface.