When Twentieth Century Fox Studios decided to undertake Anastasia,
its first animated feature film, producers Gary Goldman and Don
Bluth called on Swashbuckler Enterprises to guide them through the
location shoot in St. Petersburg.
Anastasia was billed as a musical fantasy, a twentieth-century
fairy tale about the lost Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.
To produce the film, the studio employed a 326-member crew.
But it all began in St. Petersburg with videographer Alexander
Gutman, a plan, a van, a helicopter and several feet of snow.
In all, Gutman shot 10 rolls of videotape and producer Gary Goldman
shot 3600 slides. This became the raw material from which animation
artists created palaces, backgrounds, cityscapes, countryside, trains,
trolleys and horse-drawn sleds for the feature film released worldwide
A Russian troika, three horses harnessed together to pull a carriage
or sleigh, is associated with country life. The troika was made for
carrying the Russian post along straight roads that connected villages.
On the angular paths of the Catherine Palace Park navigation was tricky.
Two sleighs were employed, with cameras and crew in troika #1 to film
carefree people riding in troika #2. The troika teams were looping around
the snowy paths on a frigid January day when troika #2 tipped over on a
sharp right turn, dumping passengers into the snow, twisting the harness
and causing the middle horse to go down. The people were laughing and unhurt,
but the horses screamed and snorted and struggled against the tangled harness.
While cameras rolled, the experienced Russian troika drivers rescued and
calmed the panicked horses. The day's shoot ended with a cup of hot tea,
a glass of vodka and a toast, "All's well that ends well!"