Toward the end of the picture, director William Beaudine and star Mary Pickford clashed so often that Beaudine developed a serious paralysis of his face from the pressure and aggravation due to their frequent arguments. He finally turned the picture over to his assistant, Tom McNamara, and left the set. McNamara finished the picture, uncredited.
Mary Pickford gave each child an engraved silver pencil as a gift, and they each had a crew member assigned to fish them out of the gunk when the shot was canned. These assistants also made sure the kids were cleaned up and comfortable, with warm towels when they emerged from the swampy water.
Although William Beaudine received critical acclaim both inside and outside the film industry for his direction of this film, for many years a story circulated that star Mary Pickford felt that he was too cavalier about the safety of the actors, especially in a scene where she had to carry a baby across some water filled with alligators (Pickford wanted to use a doll, but Beaudine insisted on using a real baby), and even though the alligators' jaws were bound shut, Pickford swore that he would never work for her or her company as long as she lived. However, cameraman Hal Mohr, who shot this picture, said in an interview that the "alligator incident" never happened. He said that there "wasn't an alligator within ten miles" of Pickford, and that both the alligators and the baby in the film were all dummies because the studio would never have let a star of Pickford's magnitude endanger herself by working with real alligators, let alone allow a baby to go near them. In any case, Beaudine and Pickford did clash on the picture. Beaudine eventually walked off the set and turned the direction over to his assistant, and he and Pickford never worked together again.
Art Director Harry Oliver transformed three acres of the back lot between Willoughby Avenue and Alta Vista Street into a stylized Gothic swamp.The ground was scraped bare in places, 600 trees were carted in and pits dug and filled with a mixture of burned cork, sawdust and muddy water.
The quicksand was sawdust and cork, ground up, with water. And, it had a bottom to it, so that you couldn't actually go under. Child actor Spec O'Donnell's feet were resting on something solid; he couldn't go further down than his chin.