Chancellor Agard
January 14, 2016 12:15 PM

It’s an exciting day for the cast and crew of The Revenant.

The Alejandro G. Iñérritu-directed epic leads the Oscar race with 12 nominations, including nods for Best Picture, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actor (Tom Hardy) and Best Director.

Making the movie was a huge challenge for the cast and crew, due to remote wilderness locations and the limited time available to shoot in natural light. With The Revenant‘s strong showing in this year’s Oscar race, Mary Parent – one of the movie’s producers – is thrilled to see that everyone’s hard work is being acknowledged.

“You never take anything granted,” Parent tells PEOPLE Thursday morning, shortly after the nominations were announced. “It was just a privilege to be involved with a film this ambitious to begin with, and to have it acknowledged on this level with these nominations has just made it that much more exciting and gratifying.”

She adds: “Alejandro is such a brilliant filmmaker, and he’s always setting the bar, whether it be for himself or everyone around him, incredibly high. It inspired everybody to their best work.”

DiCaprio has now notched his fifth Oscar nomination for The Revenant, in which he plays 19th-century explorer Hugh Glass. For the role, DiCaprio, 41, did everything from enduring -40 degree temperatures to eating raw bison meat.

“Every day, he just gave it a 100 percent,” Parent says. “There’s nobody else you’d rather be in the trenches with. He’s just an asset in every way – in front of the camera and behind the camera.”

She adds that shooting entirely on location in both Canada and Montana – without green screens and soundstages – brought a unique richness to the production: “It wasn’t traditional filmmaking in any way.”

Parent says that The Revenant‘s production crew has now moved on to new projects – Parent is herself in Australia working on Kong: Skull Island, which happens to star newly minted Oscar nominee Brie Larson. But that hasn’t stopped them from texting back and forth as they bask in the glow of The Revenant‘s Oscar nominations sweep.

“I’m going to try to somehow go to sleep if I can. I’m not sure how that’s going to work,” she says. “I’ll certainly be going to work with an extra pep in my step.”

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