Working with animals

The poster I made, next to a real one on the dog park bulletin board.

Working with animals is a lot harder than it looks. And it’s not something they bother to teach us at Chapman, for some unknowable reason. Probably financial. So I decided to give it a shot early in my career. The result was a short film my production teacher didn’t like very much, for good reasons, but that I still think is sort of fun – and not bad for 12 hours’ work – writing, casting, shooting and editing. Take that, 48-hr Film Festival!

Thanks to all that helped out. Especially Daisy the dog, Vinny the actor and dog wrangler, Anirudh the cinematographer and Megan, the actress, who came all the way from LA to star.

For those interested in filmmaking, here’s how the dog made things trickier than they would have been with a human star.

1. She had to be enclosed and on a leash at all times as she isn’t a stunt dog or trained to sit and stay. This meant we had to shoot in the doggy park – otherwise she could have run into the street.
2. She isn’t used to playing with strange dogs, so she was nervous.
3. I didn’t know her before the shoot, but she bonded with me first. So it was hard to make her bond with the actress.
4. It all took so long that we couldn’t move locations to the more ideal place to shoot the scene where she sees the poster. I wanted to make it a different place. Shooting in the doggy park also made the dog being lost at all seem much less plausible.
5. Dogs drool, put hair all over you and have to be taken care of. It’s hard to direct when your first priority is not the actor, or the cine, or even the shotlist, but this slightly helpless hairy creature who doesn’t speak English. Have a handler on set – this stuff is not suitable for student skeleton crews.

Still, I’m not sorry I tried.

PS. Mom if you’re reading this and you want to watch the video you should click the play button (it’s a triangular thing in the middle of the video thing in the page). And I love you.

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