Here's How The Cast Of Prey Survived Predator Boot Camp

The "Predator" franchise is back with fresh blood this summer in the form of "Prey," a 1700s-set prequel that's being hailed as one of the best entries of the franchise. The film stars Native American actress Amber Midthunder, a member of the Fort Peck Sioux Tribe, as a Comanche warrior named Naru. In the male-dominated action world, Midthunder's Naru is a more-than-capable hero. On screen, she braves raging rivers, wields a tomahawk, and faces off against the technologically advanced alien species known as the Predator.

Off screen, Midthunder is apparently just as capable as her character: in an interview with /Film's Ben Pearson, the actor explained that she was as hands-on as possible when it came to performing the called for stunts. "I would learn every stunt sequence in its entirety, and as much as I could possibly do," she shared. "I wanted to do everything myself. So I got to jump off the tree. I got to get thrown off of the Predator. I got to fight him."

Training for the movie began with a four week boot camp in Calgary, where the cast worked on weapons training and stunt choreography alongside personal trainers, the stunt team, and others to ensure the action in the film looked good and was safe and manageable for the performers involved. "There's so much happening in the movie that we were there every single day," Midthunder shared, "But at the same time, there's nothing that really prepares you for a week in a mud pit, you know?"

A real life river set

In the film, Naru dreams of being a hunter for her tribe, and gets to prove herself worthy when she discovers that an extraterrestrial being has begun prowling the woods near her home. A mud pit is just one nature-made weapon the resilient warrior turns against the beast. In an interview with, Midthunder spoke more about what it was like to film on location within the elements. "There's no way to prepare to show up to work every day for a week and get thrown in a mud pit or a river," she shared. "At one point I was running down a cliff."

Midthunder says that the river in particular made her nervous, since she was raised with a healthy sense of caution around strong bodies of water. "The thing I was most scared of was the river," Midthunder told the outlet. "I grew up around water, but I also grew up knowing how dangerous it is." The actor describes the setup for the river scene, which included a paddle boat used to take her across the river and a beaver dam-like structure built in the middle of the river. "We had other stuff to shoot there before I got in," she explained "so just watching that [setup] for days before we started, I had anxiety building on top of anxiety on top of anxiety. But then once I got in, it was so fun."

Cowboy switches and treetop chases

The final version of the scene is entertaining to watch, too. In it, Naru is chased by a grizzly bear, which is soon bested by an invisible Predator. The camera follows Midthunder as she dives beneath the water, then hides from the bear's snarling teeth in the rickety shelter of a beaver dam. In another sequence, Midthunder says she and her stunt double performed "cowboy switches," a classic film trick in which a double switches out for an actor mid-shot as the actor is obscured behind something on screen.

"The trapper fight that I had was a very cool one-shot sequence that had both me and my stunt double in it, so we did a lot of cowboy switches," Midthunder told /Film. "One person would start and then they would push over and then pull back and we would switch. And then same thing — somebody would roll, and then somebody would roll back in and it was both of us." The actor says she worked on this fight the longest, learning it for the first time in training camp before shooting began.

As impressive as the action is "Prey" is, director Dan Trachtenberg originally had even more planned. In a separate interview, he told /Film that his team drafted and pre-rendered a scene involving a treetop chase, but it was never filmed. "I was, for whatever reason, really obsessed with having the fights be more vertical and seeing the Predator leaping through trees," he shared, explaining that several prior "Predator" films didn't make full use of the almost animalistic physique of the alien of the 1987 original.

With or without the tree jumps, "Prey" is still an impressive action showcase for star Amber Midthunder, and a singularly creative entry into a long-running franchise.