Flicka (2006) is an American family drama popular with horse lovers even today. Included in our list of the best horse movies, Flicka is about a teenage girl Katy McLaughlin who encounters and tames a wild Mustang on her father’s Wyoming ranch.
Katy wants to be just like her father, Rob, when she grows up. Rob, however, has other plans for her and forbids Katy to work with the Mustang she named Flicka. Through a series of adventures, Katy proves to her strict father that she is worthy of taking over the family ranch.
As we learn from the movie, “Flicka” is Swedish for “little girl.” In 2010, the first sequel to the movie was released, titled Flicka 2. Another sequel followed in 2012, titled Flicka: Country Pride.
Here are 7 things you didn’t know about the Flicka movie!
Flicka is Based on a Children’s Novel
The basic concept for Flicka came from Mary O’Hara’s children’s novel “My Friend Flicka,” first published in 1941. However, the movie and the book are quite different in many ways.
For starters, the book’s protagonist is Ken McLaughlin, a 10-year-old boy who lives on Goose Bar Ranch with his family. Like Katy, the boy returns from boarding school with failing grades, angering their father Rob. To make matters worse, his brother Howard can train a colt from his father’s herd while he is not.
In contrast to the movie, Rob reluctantly allows Ken to have a colt. He then chooses a wild sorrel filly and names her Flicka. Unfortunately, Flicka injures herself during her capture when she tries to jump a barbed-wire fence.
Ken spends the whole summer caring for the filly, eventually gaining her trust and affection. He also writes his overdue essay, which earns him that much-needed pass mark, just like Katy in the movie. When Flicka’s health breaks down, Ken miraculously saves the filly and they will live happily ever after.
“My Friend Flicka” is actually the first book in a trilogy that also includes “Thunderhead” (1943) and “Green Grass of Wyoming” (1946). All three books were made into movies two years after their release. The original Flicka movie also inspired the TV series My Friend Flicka (1956-1957).
The Movie’s Lead Actress Never Worked With Horses Before
Alison Lohman is a former American actress who played the role of Katy McLaughlin in Flicka. However, unlike her character Katy, Lohman was far from being comfortable on horseback.
“Horseback riding was a lot harder than I thought,” she told thehorse.com. The fact that she had to portray a girl who grew up on horseback almost made Lohman quit her role.
The actress had never encountered horses before signing up for Flicka. Nor has she ever seen the original 1943 movie adaptation of Mary O’Hara’s novel. “My Little Pony’ was as far as it got for me,” she told SFGATE.
In order to learn the basics of handling and riding horses, Alison Lohman attended “Cowboy Camp” prior to filming. It was an intensive course that involved riding five hours a day for a month and going to the gym.
To further complicate matters, Lohman had no idea she would have to ride bareback until two weeks into filming. Thanks to head wrangler Rusty Hendrickson, she learned to ride well enough to shoot the bareback scenes for the movie.
While learning to ride was more frustrating than fun for Lohman, she also had some positive experiences. “Working on “Flicka, I got to see how beautiful and free these horses are and how important it is to connect to the land,” she told SFGATE.
In the final scene of the movie, Lohman was perfectly at ease on horseback, just like her character Katy. So much so that she even felt the desire to continue riding after production wrapped.
Several Horses Doubled for Flicka
Usually in movies, any main equine character is played by several horses. This is because some horses are better at standing around and looking good on camera, while others excel at riding or jumping.
In Flicka, it was no different. Each horse that doubled for the wild filly was purposely trained to carry out a specific role.
Having several “Flickas” didn’t make things easier for Alison Lohman, who had to form a believable connection with these animals. They also rode very differently, and it took the actress a long time to get comfortable riding them bareback.
Alison Lohman Was 11 Years Older Than Her Character Katy
Alison Lohman was 27 when she was cast as the 16-year-old Katy McLaughlin in Flicka. However, Lohman had no problem acting as a teenager, as we could all see on the big screen.
In her interview with SFGATE, Lohman revealed that she naturally looks and acts younger than her real age. She also described Katy as an “old soul,” saying how she and her character met in the middle.
Interestingly, the age difference wasn’t quite right between the parents and Katy either. Tim McGraw, who plays Rob, and Maria Bello, who plays Nell, are both the same age, only 12 years older than Alison Lohman. Those make-up artists have really done an excellent job!
Tim McGraw Co-wrote the Song “My Little Girl”
“My Little Girl” is one of the Flicka movie’s soundtracks, written by Tim McGraw and Tom Douglas. McGraw is an American country musician and actor who also plays the role of Katy’s father Rob in the movie.
The heartwarming song is about a father coming to terms with his daughter growing up. It received a nomination for Best Song from the Broadcast Film Critics Association in 2006. The song also reached #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
“My Little Girl” was actually the first song McGraw ever wrote. His incredible vocal talent made him one of the most popular country singers of the ’90s and early 2000s. Tim McGraw’s second album, “Not a Moment Too Soon,” was the best-selling country music album of 1994.
In 2001, McGraw and his celebrity wife Faith Hill received a Grammy Award for their performance singing “Let’s Make Love.” The song went on to become a hit in Canada and the United States and later worldwide.
Tim McGraw released many albums in the years to come. He even recorded a duet with Taylor Swift, who honored his music with her first-ever single, “Tim McGraw” (2006). The chorus of the song goes: “When you think Tim McGraw / I hope you think my favorite song.”
The Cliff in Flicka’s Capture Was Created by Cgi
In the scene of Flicka’s capture, we see the Mustang driving Rob’s herd towards a cliff. Rob hurries after the filly on his horse, lassoing Flicka only moments before she reaches the edge of the abyss. Or so it seems.
In reality, of course, the horses were never in danger of falling. According to the American Humane Association (AHA), the cliff was created in post-production using computer-generated imagery (CGI).
Where we see the huge abyss on the screen is only a four-foot slope in real life. The filmmakers used white tape along the edge to serve as a visual marker. It came out rather convincing, don’t you think?
The Mountain Lion Never Shared the Set with Horses
Early on in the movie, there’s a scene where Katy is riding her trail horse in the forest. Suddenly, we see Flicka rearing up and scaring away a mountain lion, who was eyeing up Katy’s horse.
As revealed by the AHA, the lion and the horse were never on set at the same time. Experienced handlers cued the lion to take a few steps towards the camera to create the illusion of the animal approaching. The majestic scene of Flicka rearing was shot at a different time.
Similarly, the scene where the lion jumps on Flicka at the end of the movie was also shot separately. In reality, the lion’s big jump was a small leap from the branch onto a platform, guided by a bait stick.
The lion around Flicka’s neck was a stuffy that trainers secured with a strap. They then asked the horse to lay on her side, where they moved the stuffy around Flicka’s neck as if a real lion was attacking. The filmmakers also used footage against a blue screen, where the live mountain lion was playing with a favorite toy covered with blue fabric.