When it comes to Life Of Pi, Steve Callahan may not know much about tigers but he sure knows what it's like to be stranded at sea – having been so for 76 days in a small dinghy. It's no wonder that Ang Lee brought him on board as official survival and marine consultant.
Striving for authenticity in a story where a boy, Pi Patel, finds himself shipwrecked for 227 days, Lee lapped up his anecdotes of spending more than two months living as an “aquatic caveman” after an attempt to cross the ocean in 1982 went horribly wrong. These ranged from the way he prepared his meals to the giant blue whale that emerged by his raft – all in the aim of recreating them for Pi.
“I also mapped out what the ocean and sky might look like and matched it with the storyline,” he explains. “I stayed throughout shooting, spent time with Suraj (Sharma, who plays Pi), discussed the psychological issues and got involved with props. The most important element for Callahan, however, was that Pi ”normalised life as much as possible“.
“You need to stay proactive,” he says.
'Life Of Pi' is released nationwide on 20 December