If you were going to cast a dog in a commercial extolling the benefits of having quality house insurance then big and clumsy would be the order of the day. As usual we submitted a number of larger breeds for the production company to consider but in the end our own hairy house-wrecker Ruckus got the nod. Typecasting!!!!
This commercial presented a number of challenges for a canine actor. The space for the scene was a narrow hallway with the camera set up at one end with just barely enough room to squeeze past. As is often the case, the director wanted to try out a variety of options for the scene. (We have learned that even though production says the action will be a sit stay or a simple A to B – it never is just that on the day). The final choice for the shot was for Ruckus to come in with the male actor and then meet the children and run with them up the hallway. Setting Ruckus to run directly at a very expensive camera not to mention some break able VIPs was a little challenging. Because of the space limitations he had to run past me (where I was tucked out of sight in another room and navigate past the camera (without wiping out the expensive equipment) and then wait by himself at the top of a small landing while the rest of the scene was filmed. To make it more challenging, as the actors and Ruckus set up in position one and got ready to start, hair, makeup and wardrobe staffers would invariably step in and adjust things. Ruckus needed to ignore the distraction and remember what he needed to do without being reset.
Days like these are why I prefer to work with dogs that have specific movie training. So often, the action that is requested when we are bidding the job is not what we are asked for on the day. Using dogs with movie training mean that we can give the director a lot of options and that the dog can cope with the challenges of tight spaces, multiple distractions and changing actions. The production gets the shot and we look like rockstars!