There’s actually a lot to tell since the last time, but I’ll stick to one subject.
Four weeks ago, I was called by a woman, Melanie, who was casting animals for films.
She asked me if Pandora could act as a wolf in an art movie.
I was very honest and didn’t promise much about Pandora’s skills. After a little talk back and forth, Melanie decided to come and meet Pandora, and see if we could persuade her – Pandora – to do different things, such as barking on command.
Melanie also wanted Pandora to ‘stand’ on a command made from a distance.
Good luck with that, I thought.
Two weeks ago, Melanie came by and we worked with Pandora for a couple of hours.
Honestly? Not too promising. She couldn’t stand when asked, she couldn’t even do that at our training hours so why should she this day?
Barking on command was hopeless. Actually the film folks wanted her to howl like a wolf, but although she often howls, it’s always little ‘give me attention’ howls and not the humongous ‘give me the moon’ kinda thing.
Anyway, Melanie prepared the film crew that they would NOT get a Labrador, they would get a wolf, with all the difficulties included.
And they accepted that.
Two days after Melanie had visited us, Pandora barked on command for the first time. I tell you, I was sooo proud. Hell, I still am.
And two days before we went to record the film, she was able to ‘stand’ on command with the order given from a distance.
Last Monday we, Pandora and I, went to Melanie’s home on Zealand (Sjælland). Here we met her dogs, and Pandora had a very weird reaction to a bearded collie. I’ll write about that in the next blog.
We stayed overnight, and went to the film set early the next morning. We got out of bed at 6 o’clock in the morning. At 9 o’clock we met the film folks at a small filming area near an old air base.
Pandora was let free and she went from one person to the next to say hello. She like and accepted every one, and they were all very kind to her. Several of them said: Wow it crazy how much she looks like a wolf. They were really impressed with her looks.
Pandora watching the camera crew and their equipment
Treadmill and green screen
And then we started filming. Pandora’s first task was to walk and run on a treadmill. I had thought she could do that easily, as she tried that last summer. The difference was that last year it was a treadmill specifically made for dogs. This was an old conveyor belt, probably one of those used at the check-out in the supermarket. And it was painted green. Actually a lot of the recordings were made with green screen, and the treadmill had to fall into the background.
It took perhaps 30 minutes. Then Pandora could use the treadmill alone with no no one helping her or holding her (me or Melanie). She could walk and she could run. The recording was made.
Luckily the film people, especially the producer, was very patient with us, so I never felt any rush or stress.
After that, Pandora had to run through the green screen area. No problem. Then she had to jump in the green screen area. First she jumped about 60 cm. Her own height. Then she jumped 1 meter and they were very impressed with the height she could jump. Watching the jump in slowmotion afterwards was actually pretty impressing.
Pandora on the set
On our way to meet the film crew, we went by a butcher and picked up 15 litres of lams blood.
After the green screen recordings, Pandora was going to be recorded in a natural environment. We moved the location to some high grass. Melanie laid out a blood trail in the hope that Pandora would follow it. The crew wanted to film Pandora form the behind, running. I don’t think they ever got the good shot; she was far gone every time she was let loose.
Then she had to eat an animal.
The crew had got three minks. The first was soaked in blood and looked very dramatic. Pandora took one look at it and said: Predators don’t eat predators (Carnivore carnivore), and she never gained any interest in the mink. Clever enough, I had brought a lot of her food with me from home, so the raw turkey neck and the tripe was then soaked in blood to make her interested and make it look dramatic. (Thank god she’s a BARF dog).
At that time she hadn’t eaten in 48 hours.
I knew I had to starve her to be able to control her just a little during the recordings. It had worked so far.
She ate all right, but not too enthusiastic. Melanie took blood in her hands and put it on Pandora’s snout to make her look dangerous and evil. At first Pandora accepted it, in the end she hated the blood. I could see that she felt dirty and wanted to clean herself. But she accepted our mistreating of her in a way that almost made me feel guilty.
This red-faced wolfdog being unable to clean herself, unable to get away from the cameras that she saw as five huge, black aliens, staring at her with their one eyed faces.
But in the end, she also resigned to that, laid down and ate her food with cameras up her nose.
Blood blood and more blood
The final shots was Pandora staring into the camera, no problem.
Pandora running towards the camera, no problem.
Pandora looking evil. Problem! Pandora isn’t evil.
But the camera man had some good ideas and made her look fabulous.
Final shot was Pandora walking through water to record her paw and footsteps through the water. It looked amazing.
The movie, well I don’t know what it’ll be about exactly. It will be previewed the 3rd of September at an art gallery called Gl. Strand on Zealand (Sjælland).
I expect to get access to the final film, which will probably also be put on YouTube, and I’ll post it as soon as possible.
There were also camera people from hour national TV attending the film set. They were making a ‘movie behind the movie’. And perhaps they will air the result in September, too.
Pandora van Goverwelle
But so far, my girl is a movie star. She has always been a star in my life, so that changes nothing, but I learned a lot.
We usually train obedience for 1 ½ hours and agility 1 ½ hour every week. This Tuesday Pandora was working approximately 7 hours. We were on the set from 9 am to 5 pm with only one break.
Tricking her, luring her, I could make her do stuff I’d never thought she’d accept.
She worked so hard, and though she left the set a few times, it was ok. She came back and did the job.
Training intensively had paid off. I’ll never again say that she cannot learn fast, ‘cos she can.
I have even gained hope that we will attend some competitions this autumn.
Pandora is fantastic. She’s a constant surprise and my expectations are often too low.
Sorry Pandora, you are fabulous!