Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Writing Contest about Movie Dogs

Reel Dogs Press is holding an essay contest for people who love dog movies! Entrants have a chance to win DVDs, the book Wonder Dogs, get their story published on the site, and more. Hope you'll all enter! Check out their contest page for all the details.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Holidays

There have been a larger than usual number of new Christmas-themed dog movies out this season. The highlight of which is certainly A Dog Named Christmas, the Hallmark Hall of Fame film with aired last month. Others include less inspired films like Santa Buddies and The Dog Who Saved Christmas.

If you're looking for a dog movie for the holidays, don't stop at the new ones. Try the Benji classic Benji's Very Own Christmas Story (1978), or the French Canadian film The Dog Who Stopped the War (1984) (this one is tragic). Then there are more recent releases like The 12 Dogs of Christmas (2005) and A Dog's Tale (1999). This one is about a boy who turns into a German Shepherd for Christmas. It was just rereleased under the title A Christmas Tail.

Hope you will enjoy the Reel Dogs holiday tribute below, featuring A Dog Named Christmas.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wonder Dogs!

Wonder Dogs: 101 German Shepherd Dog Films is now available for pre-order on! This amazing tribute to Hollywood's, and the world's, greatest canine superstar is a unique book, giving in-depth and behind the scenes details about dogs in movies from 1921 to 2010. There is nothing else like it on the market, either in print or out. It's a must have for anyone who loves dogs or wants to learn more about dogs in film! The cover features Canczech's Solo, who starred in Ace of Hearts (2008), and featured in The Pink Panther (2006) and Watchmen (2009).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Making it Big

Renowned animal trainer Karl Lewis Miller worked with twelve Saint Bernards for twenty-four weeks before filming on the 1992 Beethoven began. Of the twelve, Miller chose one that he knew had that perfect star power. Kris was a six-month-old puppy when Miller got him from a Riverside, CA, kennel. He grew up to be 185 pounds of beauty and brains whose skills included sharing ice cream cones with delicate bites, opening doors, and diving into swimming pools to save the little girl of his family. Kris worked with only two doubles, who stood in for lighting and setup, as well as some animatronic assistance.

Along with Barry, Kris, usually known only as Beethoven, is probably the most famous Saint Bernard ever. Though he only starred in the first two movies of the Beethoven series, he helped make Beethoven one of the top-grossing animal films ever.

Working on the set with this superstar was not all biscuits and kibble however. When the production team first began working with the dog, they were unhappy with his performance. Miller soon realized they were expecting a ballerina instead of a linebacker. He had to explain the physical limitations of a dog built like a truck, and the reactions from the crew improved. Because Kris, and the other Saint Bernards working on Beethoven's 2nd, had the unfortunate habit of drooling profusely in the mildest heat, the set was never over 60 degrees fahrenheit. But the dogs came first. When anyone on the set complained about the cold, director Rod Daniel advised them to put on a sweater.

Pictured: Kris, on the set of Beethoven, from author's collection. Copyright Universal Pictures, 1992.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Wolf Sighting!

The dreadfully dull second of the Twilight series, New Moon features much less animal footage than the first film did. Despite being almost devoid of real animals, there is a single scene in New Moon showing a living grey wolf. The wolf is part of a dream sequence, standing over the body of an actor, with blood on its muzzle. It was provided by Roland Sonnenburg and Lauren Henry, who also worked on the first film. To shoot the wolf scene, the actor and wolf were introduced to each other in advance, the area for filming was secured, and the minimum possible number of cast and crew were on set while the wolf was present. As an additional precaution, the wolf wore a waist tie that was removed in post-production.

All this for about one second of footage in the completed film.