I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with Canada's most popular dramatic series called Da Vinci's Inquest, and Da Vinci's City Hall
The critically acclaimed actor Nicolas Campbell plays Vancouver Coroner Dominic Da Vinci in Da Vinci's Inquest, as well as the Vancouver Mayor in Da Vinci's City Hall.
WELLLLL GUESS WHAT??
I got to work with Nick today in a short film!!!
Before I tell you what happened on set today, I wanted to first tell you how I got the job. We were contacted by someone who came across my blog about a year ago. The person told me I should really see if I could get into show biz. So mum looked around and found an Animal Talent Agency called CINEMAZOO. She called and gave the secretary Heidi all my info (and believe it or not Georgie's TOO!), which included my blog URL. Well, the first post Heidi ever saw was me with *ahem* ...... my stuffies. I guess I made a relatively deep impression with that post. When this film came about and they needed a dog that fitted my description, Heidi recommended me to Gary Oliver who is the president and founder of Cinemazoo.
To be honest, mum and I really weren't expecting to get any casting calls since I am not one of those super well trained movie dogs with a gazillion tricks down their sleeves err... legs.. and not many people request for Airedales. So we were thrilled when Heidi called a week ago to ask "is Sunshade still available to do work??"
Now let me tell ya, this was basically blind trust on both Heidi and Gary's part. More so Gary since he was on set with me the whole time and I basically represented his talent agency. Gary said usually, when they know a dog is needed for a film, or a commercial, or a movie, they get a script a head of time so they could see what the dog is expected to do. Pick the dog best suited for the job. Once the dog is picked, they start to work/train the dog for however many days it takes for him/her to learn all that's required before the shoot. Well Gary got nothing for this film, no script or anything. He had not met me or worked with me before today, same goes for Heidi (she just liked me and my stuffies LOL). So in a way, it was a huge risk for Gary to come in with a dog he had no prior knowledge of. Gary told mum he had nightmare the night before, because "he said" he knew Airedales weren't the easiest dogs to work with, especially one that has not had any previously experiences.
Mum had confidence in me to a certain degree..... as I had never worked with huge cameras and bright lights before, on top of that, she really didn't know exactly what I was expected to do. She thought most of the stuff I was gonna be asked to do would be based on MY Cinemazoo profile.
Well.... not quite!! You will see later.
ABOUT THE FILM:
Title: ?????? (no idea, mum forgot to ask)
Duration of film: 50 mins
Character I play: Barney the dog - main character's (Nicolas Campbell) dog
Storyline: we really don't know but from what I played, it has something to do with the main character being a cocaine addict. His dog Barney finds some of his cocaine, eats some, and becomes high. They both start acting really HIGH. (OKAY GUYS.... that's all we saw.... mum was too busy working with me she didn't have a chance to ask)
Film type: low budget black and white
This is the rough sketch of the floor plan of the old house we were shooting in,
SCENE 1 - probably the most complicated
We were informed about half an hour before the shoot time that the director wanted me to walk "down" a flight of steep wooden STAIRS on my own, sniff the ground before entering the living room where I continue to sniff all over the place (looking for cocaine) and eventually ending up at a little stool table where I find the cocaine (icing sugar) and lick some up.
This was the plan:
Point A being the top of the stairs. I was made to "STAY" up there all by myself. The pink trail shows kind of the trail the director had in mind for me to sniff around before reaching Point B which was the stool table with the cocaine/icing sugar. The camera, mum, Gary and the crew were all in the dining room, behind the living room/dining room door.
Sooo... I needed to come down those stairs, enter the room, and look like I was sniffing everywhere to find the cocaine and eventually finding it (all on my own!).
Well this was NOT in my job profile!!!
Gary and mum were thinking how they could get me to sniff all over with out mum being there beside me cause everybody, including mum had to stay in the dining room area at shooting time. Well mum said I sorta knew how to "Go to Mark", but they didn't want MY marking box, plus I wouldn't be sniffing if I just walked to my mark. Gary thought we could set a trail with crumbs of Turkey Parma Biscotti (mum made it for me!!) all the way up to the stool table. But that didn't really work because I would pick the crumbs up and eat it, and well I was only suppose to sniff not look like I was eating. Mum thought maybe she could give me the "TRACK" command since I took tracking before and I knew to put my nose down when I get the command. We tried that once, and it worked when mum was beside me to give me the command as that's how I was trained to track. However, it didn't work when mum stayed in the dining room, while I came down the stairs on my own and into the living room.
(You see, this is why the agency usually get the script AHEAD of time so they can prepare or train the animal to do what it's required!!!!)
Finally, mum told Gary about our "Go Find Them" game! That's a game mum and I play at home a lot where she would make me sit and stay in the kitchen with my back to her and she would hide treats everywhere on the first floor. And I mean EVERYWHERE - under my food dish, in a half opened drawer, under my bed, on top of DVD player, on my stuffies, in my tunnel, on the lower shelves of the book shelve. As soon as I get released, and given the "GO FIND THEM" command, I just go sniff everywhere. I can usually find them all, but there are the odd times where I would miss one or two, so mum would then tell me to keep going and say "GO FIND THEM" again. That's my cue to keep sniffing because there are more treats out there.
SOOOOO minutes before action time, we gave the "GO FIND THEM" method a try. Mum and Gary decided to actually hide treats for me to practice and I found them ALL!! Since I couldn't look like I was eating as I sniffed around the room during the shoot, no treats were hidden other than at the end stool table.
Here are the few pictures mum took today that kind of gives you an idea about Scene 1.
Those were the stairs I came down from on the left, I'm in the hall way, and the living room is just off to the side.
This is the right side of the living room with the couch,
This is the left side of the living room, and you can see where the stool table was through the glass door. That's where the cocaine/icing sugar stash was kept.
Mum put me in a SIT-STAY on top of the stairs, ran back down to the dining room, released me from my sit stay, as I was walking down the wooden stairs by my SuperSELF , mum gave me the GO FIND THEM command from the dining room. So I sniffed the ground before I entered the living room, then sniffed my way into the living room. I even added in a few more stunts of my own where I climbed onto the couch to sniff the couch, then the arm chair, stopped in front of the camera, looked right, looked left, and kept sniffing. Eventually, I found the treats. They just weren't the ones the director had in mind which was on the stool table with the icing sugar LOL. Mum accidentally left my little container of Turkey Parme Biscotti on top of the TV, so yes, I sniffed and sniffed all over the room, and VIOLA - I found MY treats on top of the TV!!!
Soo... that was a CUT!
The producer LOVED the stunts I added in myself. However, he really needed me to find the cocaine (icing sugar) on the table because Barney was supposed to eat some and get HIGH!
Did I tell you? I don't like icing suger??
They decided to hide more treats in the half folded paper containing the cocaine/icing sugar. Well, I did everything I was supposed to, sniffed like I should, no new stunts this time while I was sniffing the room, but I showed way more interest in the cocaine stash in the end. So much so that, I grabbed the entire stash and threw it on the ground.
That was a CUT!
The director was happy with this take and liked the part where I grabbed the entire paper pocket containing icing sugar and my treat crumbs. He wanted to try again and see if I would sniff the stool table a little longer showing that I had "found" the stash.
Yes.. I stayed at the top of the stairs like I should, came down when I was released, sniffed all over the room as soon as I got in, and found the icing sugar stash AND sniffed the table for quite a while because I could smell the treat crumbs.
That was a CUT!
I was a pro by then! The director and his buddies (I don't really know what their roles were) were extremely pleased.
(mum: I'm not sure how this works at all. Do they edit what they like from the three takes to make up a scene??
Sunshade was amazing to have done everything on her own from the stairs into the living room. All of us were crammed in the little dining room. I gave her all her commands from inside the dining room. What surprised me the most was she actually stayed in the living room to keep sniffing in all three takes instead of coming into the dining room to greet me. She is so bonded to me, and I had expected to see her looking for me coming from a place where she couldn't see me (stairs into living room). It was almost as if she knew what she was supposed to do.)
It's a close up shot of me actually taking a big lick off the stool table looking like Barney the dog had just ingested cocaine. Well this was easy because they just had to chop my Turkey Parme Biscottis up and put them around where the icing sugar was.
I did fine the first take, but director wanted a second take just for security reasons. Like I said, I was a pro by then and licked like I was supposed to!!
Then it was break time while the set was being prepared, and Nick got prettied up!!
Gary from Cinemazoo told mum during the break "I could not have been more pleased with how well Sunshade did!" He put a call into his secretary Heidi and told her she had picked a star. He said Heidi told him "TOLD YA!!" Wow! I guess my star qualities really showed through my stuffies eh? Since technically, they got me the job LOL!
Nick and I played quite a few games of my favouritest Keep-Away Game!! He was so much fun, he got down on ALL FOUR legs er.. limbs, and crawled around to chase me. I of course WON every game!!! (mum: Nick really liked Sunshade, it was funny seeing him crawling on his hands and knees.)
Nick would start his action in the living room into the dining room, where he would call out "Barney". As he enters the kitchen, I would be sent to him from Point A to Point B where I get all wound up by the football Nick's holding, and proceeds to Nick throwing the football for me to run after and tackling me from behind at Point C. After Point C, I was free to wonder around in and out of the picture.
This was the plan:
Mum was not told about the tackling part because it was just put in in the end. They wanted me to get all wound up, and mum knew it would be hard for me to get all excited with a stranger as I am quite aloof to people I don't know. So mum told the director my Aire-Kong tennis football might to the job. Well it worked!! I was totally wound up, I jumped, I barked, I chased the football and got tackled in the practice round we had. I guess since we added in the football, they added in the tackle.
I was perfect. Really, I'm not just bragging. I did all that I was supposed to do. Got excited with Nick, jumped around him, barked at him, chased the football he kicked, got tackled by him which I retaliated by growling and snarling because he was trying to be dominant over me, but I just LOVED the competition. Everything was great, except the camera man moved too slow for the director's liking.
The director loved my growling and snarling.
Again, I was perfect - jumped, barked, chased, got tackled, growled, snarled. The camera man bumped into the door frame while he was moving from the dining room into the kitchen.
Take Three... Take Four..... Take Five..... Take Six.... Take Seven...
I was perfect in all of them because I was a PRO!!! None of the re-takes for this scene was because of me!!! Aren't you proud of me??
(mum: I was just praying for this scene to be over all this time. I had a hard time watching Sunshade being tackled especially I was not told about it until I saw it happen in the rehearsal round. I had the urge to say "ENOUGH! STOP!" after each take. I worried about her legs, I worried about her. She growled and snarling because she didn't like being jumped on, I know. She is not used to being treated or handled roughly. However, at the same time, she didn't seem like she was hurt, and she was so focused on her ball, after the tackles, she still tried to pounce on Nick to try to get the ball. In other words, she wasn't effected by the tackles. She did take after take knowing very well the tackle was coming up. She didn't look afraid, tail up the entire time, even when she got tackled. Still taunted Nick non-stop after the scene to get him to chase her LOL. My tough cookie!)
Taunting Nick!!!! It worked everytime!
Here is another photo of me and Nick. He saw me tilting my head so he started tilting his head too.
I had a break after we shot scene 3. Gary Oliver told the production company that for every four hours the dog is onset, he/she has to get at least one hour of break. We were there since 8 am, so I got my break at 12pm.
Since STINKY was home by himself, mum decided to zoom home to take him for a walk.
We were back at the set by quarter after one or so in the afternoon. There was nothing to do, and we just had to hang around until the next scenes were ready. (mum: you get more tired hanging around doing nothing than if you were working. A set takes anywhere between half an hour to over an hour to prepare.)
I was bored, and since the house had a wasp nest in the gutter, I decided to catch all the wasps that came down to my level. I made sure I didn't catch any bees so MAMA BEES won't get mad. I only killed wasps.
Mum was bored too, so she did this,
She set off all the women working on set off by putting this sun hat on me. They all started getting trigger happy with their own cameras..... Do you see how bad it is when my mum is bored???
Finally, at around 3pm, I was called for scene 4.
This scene required Barney to be put in a closet (Point A) with the door shut. Nick comes to open the closet and attempts to reconcile with Barney (Point B). Barney comes out of the closet calmly because he is stoned, and turns away from Nick's reconciliation attempt and walks into the hall way.
This was the plan:
Mum dumped a half bag of my favouritest Turkey Parme Biscotti treats in the closet for me before shutting the door. (mum: I felt bad she had to be shut in a closet..) Then I heard the director say ACTION! And then I heard Nick's foot steps running down the stairs and he opened the door. He tried to pet me and said he was sorry, but I was busy. I had to look for mum! So I ignored him, and walked into the dining room........... instead of the hall way since I had no idea where mum was.
So it was a CUT..
(mum: I was actually in the living room by the hallway/living room door. However, since I couldn't talk, Sunshade had no way of knowing where I was when she came out)
Gary who has trained animals all his life came up with a great idea. He suggested that he went with mum to put me in the closet where he would stay with me until just before the door shuts for the shoot while I watch mum walked away into the hallway (and not the dining room). What an ingenious idea that was. I came out of the closet, swerved away from Nick's attempt to pet me, did a 90 degree turn and walked into the hall way where I saw mum hiding in the living room with more TPB for me!!!
That was a CUT!!
Director only needed to see me walk down the hall way. He was very happy with the way I ignored Nick LOL!!
SCENE 4 - which should happen before Scene 5 but was shot after.
Barney the dog is all wired at Point A with Nick. Gets put in the closet by Nick (Point B).
Before the take, mum told Nick that no matter what, he could not grab my collar to "force" me in the closet. She said it was because if I am not sure about something and you apply pressure or try to force me into doing, I will automatically counter that force - which in this case would be me backing out. Once I have done that, I might keep doing it until I am desensitized. My mum knows me so well!!
Anyway, so mum lots of my dehydrated liver in the farther end of the closet. She walked me there to show me where I showed no hesitation in walking in and crunching up all the liver bits. There was no pulling, no collar grabbing, I just listened and went where mum pointed at.
The director wanted Nick and I to do a rehearsal before the actual take. Well, he regretted not shooting the rehearsal because it was exactly what he had in mind. I was all hyped up by Nick who had a rawhide bone in his hand, and went into the closet where the stash of dehydrated liver bits were waiting for me. What I didn't realize was Nick was SHUTTING THE DOOR!!! Mum didn't do that when she walked me in!!
I was barking and jumping because I wanted the rawhide bone Nick was holding. However, as soon as I saw he was walking me towards the closet, I stopped. Nick remembered what mum told him, so he didn't force me. Instead, he threw the rawhide bone into the closet (not in the script, but hey, we improvise LOL). But reeeeeeally, you trying to fool a SuperDALE like that??
So that was a CUT! And I'm proud of it!!
Everybody was laughing, because I refused to go in, and Nick added in his own lines. He said "oh you think you're smarter than me??", and he walked into the closet himself with me standing stationary watching him from the outside. He came out scratching his head and said "maybe you are smarter than me".
Before doing Take Two, mum walked me to the closet again, showed me the treats inside, I walked in, mum shut the door while still telling me I was a "GOOOOOD GURRRL" the whole time. Then she opened the door and I came out happily. We repeated this a couple more times before doing the take.
Everything went as planned. I was excited at first, and went into the closet as I was supposed to.
The director, the producer and the film crews were extremely happy with my performance. And guess what? That was a WRAP!! I was done for the day (at 4:30 pm)!! And I got a RAWHIDE BONE!!!!
Oh and I almost forgot, the director wanted to record my voice before I leave, so mum and I went in a room with the sound guy. Mum couldn't speak because they just wanted ME! I sat there and basically watched mum's hand signal and barked for two minutes. They also recorded my aggressive bark (mum just has to say something to set me off ... hehe).
The producer was very fond of me ever since I walked into the house. She asked Gary how many commercials/movies have I done so far because she thought from the way I was working and paying attention, I must have done this a lot. Gary told her this was my first time!!! Then guess what the producer told Gary??? She said she has another short film coming up and she wants nobody else but ME ME ME!!!!
(mum: I had a little chat with Emily who is the producer of this film. She said her ex boyfriend had an Airedale, and she totally fell in love with the dog and the breed. This explained why she couldn't take her eyes off Sunshade the moment she saw her. She refrained from petting Sunshade until the wrap because apparantely a lot of handlers don't want people petting the dogs while they're working. I am so clueless.)
Gary told me I was a great gurrl and the bestest Airedale he has ever worked with. WOW!! Thank you, I'm honoured!!! He said the way I paid attention to mum was amazing (yes, I do listen *sometimes* hehehe). Before leaving, Gary told mum if she wanted to, he would be willing to teach her a few more training methods to train me to do some of the things that might come in handy in the future. I guess that means a lot more Turkey Parme Biscottis for ME!
I had a fun day albeit a bit tiring, but still, I enjoyed working and eating LOTS of treats. I am happy I made mum proud because she still hasn't stopped kissing me and telling me how proud she was with everything I did today.
(mum: Well I have said this countless times before, and here I am saying it again. Sunshade has made me so proud and so thankful to have her in my life. Her acting was excellent. I think her personality and attitude really shone through. I couldn't have asked for a better performance. However, I am more proud of "her". The way she handled being in a new situation, working with strangers, the way she behaved, the way she paid attention to me with those sweetest/brightest/naughtiest brown eyes. I swear if you looked deep enough into those eyes, you will see what she is telling you (or demanding from you LOL). They are more than expressive.
Sunshade was calm, and sweet on set. She posed patiently with the ladies who wanted pictures with "the dog that doesn't look real". She rolled on her back for me to scratch her belly, and stayed belly up when a lady wanted to lie down next to her on the floor for a picture.
A couple of people admitted to me about not being dog people, but seeing the way Sunshade worked with me, they couldn't help but like and respect her. One person commented, "it's awesome that she seems to understand everything you want!"
That's my relationship with me girl; we understand each other.)
So you understand why I like to roll on goosie poopies and smear them all over my head right? And why I need to do what I do to my stuffies right??
(mum: moving on....
The poor girl was so tired, she slept from 6 pm until next morning. I gave her dinner in bed, and she had just enough energy to lift her head up to eat and went right back to sleep. I tried to wake her up to go for a pee, but it was a no go. She was conked out...)