How do you get a pack of wolves to act? You spend a whole lot of time with them.
Wolf Totem, in theaters Sept. 11, is based on a best-selling Chinese novel about a Beijing student sent to live among the nomadic herdsmen of Inner Mongolia in the late 1960s. During his stay, he develops a unique connection to a group of wolves, studying them and even attempting to domesticate one.
Director Jean-Jacqes Annaud (Seven Years in Tibet) has significant experience in building convincing narratives around wild animals — in films like Two Brothers, and the 1988 Oscar-nominated film The Bear. In Wolf Totem he and his animal trainers went to great lengths to prepare their four-legged leads for filming, as seen in the extensive behind-the-scenes featurette above.
Be sure not to miss the best part (at the 2:29 mark): baby wolves!