Thursday, May 23, 2013

WORKING WITH DOGS AND CATS ON A FILM

www.drmelcaudle.blogspot.

May 23, 2013

DR. MEL'S WEEKLY MESSAGE

It's been almost three weeks since my last posting and there are some really good reasons as to why.

First, I traveled to Los Angeles for two weeks and it is impossible to write and edit the blog from my IPAD without my computer etc.  Then, upon returning, I had my first of four surgical procedures on my right knee and immediately spent the next two weeks recuperating at my beach condo in Orange Beach, AL.  Upon return, the remaining three procedures on the knee which included getting a "Chicken Soup" injection into my knee under my knee cap.  This procedure is not steroids, but a biological compound.  The injections hurt like double hockey sticks and I couldn't walk for two days after each injection.  WOW!  The good news is my knee is FANTASTIC and I'm back at it again after a much needed rest.

I think the "Chicken Soup" had duck in it, because I just looked out of my office and in my pool are three beautiful Mallard Ducks.  I guess they feel comfortable about it being near me.  

Now, back to business.  Although the last month was a time of surgery and rest, I still was very active.  The day before the first surgery, to remove the floating bone chip from my patella, I was still busy.  In fact, busy filming the remainder of the footage for the  A.D.A.M. trailer and the EPK package to get funding and distribution.

For the first time we welcomed to the set, Jaqueline Fleming, who plays Agent Turner.  Jaq really brought in all of her FBI looks, demeanor, and portrayal hitting a home run in her role.  Of course, I already knew she would as she consulted with me on the character long before the screenplay became a screenplay.  To be honest, I think I always had seen her in this role.

Jaq is no stranger to film or television having more than 43 credits to her IMDB page including her portrayal of Harriet Truman in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Diaries, Contraband, Red, and Treme.  And, I would be remiss if I didn't mention her fabulous role in the film ON THE SEVENTH DAY with Blair Underwood and Sharon Leal.  Jaq brings star power to our cast and attraction to the SY FY Distribution Team as she is on their "APPROVED WATCHED LIST."  

Along side filming with Jaq was the ever handsome Clyde R. Jones, who plays Agent Ed Morrison, and in the "Treason Arrest" scene, Jamie Alyson as Jessica Parker, and Tina D. Rubin as Rebecca Newland.  Like Jaq, Clyde bring star power as well with his name recognition.  If you have caught his recent interview on TMZ, check it out.

I must say simply directing Jaq and Clyde is a dream come true.  They are so good they really don't need a director, other than for us to say "Action" and "Cut."  Their chemistry on camera is so natural and fun to watch. I found myself engaged in their scene and often forgot to call cut because I didn't want the scene to end.  And, to pull that off, with them, acting inside of a car, says something about their abilities.  They made everything seem so real.   Later that day, I did find out that they had known each other for more than 20 years.  It doesn't get any better than that when you need actors to have the chemistry like theirs and this film.

Once we moved inside to film the "Treason Arrest Scene,"  with Tina and Jamie Alyson, their chemistry already established, things went just as smooth and quick as the day in California with DH Lewis, Stephen Beal, and Jamie Alyson.  And, as for Jamie's portrayal of Jessica, she brought her own quirkiness into the scene with her actions from jumping over the couch to her "Dumbfound" facial expressions upon being arrested and brutally handcuffed.  "This wasn't part of the plan," Jessica said as Agent Turner roughed her up a bit to handcuff her.  I can't wait to show everyone a clip from this day.  As soon as we get it edited, I will.  For now, you are stuck with photo stills, taken by Rudy Garza on this day as Ivan Hoey Jr., was manning Camera A this time.



Speaking of crew, we had lots of help that day.  I was honored to be working again with Andy Sparaco as our director of photography.  Andy and I previously worked on two other films together and have always talked about doing a film together.  So, having him come on board was an added bonus for me.  Thank you Andy.

Just take a look at the wonderful crew who came to help us.

Director of Photography - Andy Sparaco
Camera A- Ivan Hoey Jr.- Camera A
Camera B- Challa Sabree
Camera C- Chip Carrierre
Producer/Director Assistant- Roger Molina Jr.
Rudy Garza- Still Photographer
Robby Cook Stroud- Associate Producer and Craft Services for the Day

A very special thanks to each of these cast and crew who made it possible.

Also we were blessed with a couple of visitors who came by the set to lend support including the wonderful actor Sam Medina, Jerry Lopez Jr., and Johnny Rock.  It is always a please to see anyone of these guys.  

Enough of that for now, just take a look at some of the photo stills of the day.





















WORKING WITH DOGS AND CATS ON A FILM
By Dr. Melissa Caudle

About a year ago, I began the audition process for THE KEYSTROKE KILLER.  One thing stood out for me that I laugh about today- the number of cats and dogs that bombarded their owner for their 15 seconds of fame.  At one point, I began highlighting all of the auditions where the owner's cats and dogs stole the scene.  Then, actors began posting their humorous outtakes for their auditions where their cat or dog stole the scene.  Like them, I met with the same fate with my two dogs, Lola and Gizmo when we filmed the Treason Scene for A.D.A.M..  At every turn they wanted their camera time and wanted to be in the scene.

It first became obvious when shooting the Agent "Stake Out" scene.  As Agent Morrison and Agent Turner sat in their car down and across the street, when Jessica would answer the door for Rebecca, the dogs ran out the door.  One scene, which may just make the cut, is where Jessica and Rebecca are trying to get the dogs back in the house.  I couldn't of planned that better, much less get the dogs to do that again.

Locking the dogs up in another bedroom didn't work.  They began to bark or howl.  They wanted out and with the "Party."  Mind you, Gizmo isn't the partying type.  He doesn't like other people other than me.  But "NO!"  He wanted in the scene and every time we would roll the camera he walked into the scene and sat in the middle of the floor, right in front of the camera. 

Lola wasn't any better.  Except, she wanted to be more in the shot and jumped on the couch and then laid behind on top of the couch cushion right behind Agent Turner.  She stayed there, of course until the shot where she was established and had to be in for the reverse angle.  So, I had to put her back on the couch.  Finally, she did exactly what I wanted her too and Chip, who was filming that direction finally stated, that she even moved her head and watched the action.

Therefore, one thing I learned about working with cats and dogs is you have to have patience and lots of it.  For them, they get bored, wander off, or look right into the camera when you don't want them to.  And, when you do want them to, they don 't.  So, anyone filming a short film or an independent film and decide to use your home as a location and you have either a cat or a dog, I strongly suggest that you kennel them elsewhere for the day.  Why?  The day can be stressful for them as there are so many new people in and out of the house.  Of course, there is another way - "Send them to acting school," says Chip Carrierre, who was on Camera C.

Chip got me to thinking.  During the last year of this blog, I haven't written anything for filming with animals.  Nor, have I written one on how to direct animals and be safe.  So, I did some research and made some phone calls.  

Ellen Goosenberg has been an animal trainer for years and many of her animals have been on films that aired on HBO, PBS, CBS, and more.  Her advice is to use well-trained animals and look for a Handler that can get the animals to respond with hand commands.  This one step is easier said than done.  It also can be very expensive for low-budget films.  So, what does an independent film producer and director do when you have a dog or cat that insists on being in the scene?

Animal trainer and veteran "Animal Handler" Vanessa Warrant says,"Establish yourself as the boss."  By this she stressed that dogs need and want an "Alpha" personality - meaning, a person to take control.  "You have to let them know who is in charge."  One way to do this is not to allow your actors to become "Friends" with your own pets you plan on using.  The reason is they need to know only to listen to their owner.  Also, rewarding the good behavior of the dog or cat is important.  So, both Warrant and Goosenberg said to have on hand small treats for the animals and after each take give them a reward.  That way, they become conditioned of doing the same thing over and over.  "The snack is a great motivator," says Warrant.  "And, only the owner should provide the food reward."

There is another aspect of working with cats, dogs, and other animals.  You must make sure of their safety.  My research revealed that more than 25 animals each year are injured on a film set.  And, those are only the ones that are reported on major films.  If injuries can occur on a major film set with the animal trainer on set, the SPCA on set, and animal wranglers, just imagine how your own pets can be injured.  Warrant stated that she has talked to numerous independent producers who used their own pets and actors have stepped on their paws which resulted in broken bones and other animals have jumped off the back of couches and injured their legs and the worse case scenario was when an independent film producer used their own dog to jump into the lake off a boat.  Although, this dog has done this a thousand times for his owner, when they were alone, having a camera crew and actors involved with the dog caused him to have a panic attack.  And, when the owner threw the ball into the water, wanting the dog to jump in and get it, the dog hit his mouth on the side of the boat and knocked some of his teeth out.  Simply put, no matter how many times your own cat or dog can do tricks in your backyard, it is not going to be the same when you insert actors and a camera crew.

THE FUTURE OF FILMMAKING
By Dr. Melissa Caudle

I think at one point or another all of us wanted to be in the movies when we were growing up.  For some children, their dreams have come true and took their childhood love to a different level and became professional actors, directors, screenwriters, and producers.  

When I was growing up, I had no idea that there was a career waiting on me in the film industry.  I wrote my first novel while I was in the seventh grade.  In fact, I co-wrote it with one of my childhood friends, Anne as our combined English semester project.  The novel was called "Sunshine My Love."

I just imagine that if my English teacher at that time encouraged me to write with making a movie in mind how my career might have changed.  You might be thinking, "Hold on a minute, you're a producer, director, and screenwriter?"  Yes, I am.  However, it took me until I retired from the school system as a teacher, principal, and central office administrator, to realize my love for filmmaking.  I just can't help but to keep thinking where I would be if I had someone early in my life to encourage me in this field.

Now children in the New Orleans area won't have to sit back and wander.  So, parents, teachers, counselors, youth pastors, and anyone else who works with children can encourage them to investigate a future in the film industry this summer at Jaq's Acting Studio, located in Metairie, LA.

I found out about this seminar while filming for A.D.A.M. this week.  One of our lead actors, Jaqueline Fleming, who also owns Jaq's Acting Studio told me of her plan for this summer workshop.  "During the course of ten weeks, the students are going to learn the process of filmmaking," Jaq says.  "They are going to write, direct, and film their own short film."

I got so excited just to hear about it and have volunteered my time as well.  I will be visiting the summer classes and lending a hand.  I'll work with the students on the process of screenwriting and when it comes time to film their short film, I'll be there with my cameras etc. How fun?

Now, if you love children and want to get involved, call Jaq.  I'm sure she'd love the help.  She also is going to have a fundraiser for the children so they can purchase supplies they need, such as props, tapes, craft services and more.  They also want to raise money so they can find a venue to hold a Red Carpet Screening.

You can help these children, our future of filmmaking.   Please donate any amount to the Jaq's Acting Studio.  Details will be below.  Also, you can be a mentor to the children and donate your time and skill.  Let's say, your a cameraman.  Call Jaq and talk with her to schedule a time to talk with the students or come and help us out when we film their short film.  You get the idea.  It's about the children here, and not us.

If you know of a child, that wants to attend, please refer them.  They don't have to have any experience, just want to learn the art of filmmaking.  And, Jaq said, any child who enrolls and says that Dr. Mel referred them or they read about it in Dr. Mel's blog can receive a 10% discount.  

Listed below is all of the details.

THE WHO, WHAT, WHEN AND WHERE

WHAT: SUMMER FILM CAMP

WHO:  CHILDREN UP TO AGE 17

WHEN:  MAY 11 FOR TEN WEEKS

              (A child can start at anytime and the fee will be prorated)

WHERE:  Jaq's Acting Studio
                3121 Metairie Road
                Metairie, La  70001

                504-849-9020

COST:  $500       (10% DISCOUNT IF YOU SAY YOU READ ABOUT IT HERE)
                           Studio has payment plans and tuition can be paid in increments)

THE IMPORTANCE OF HEAD SHOTS
BY DR. MEL CAUDLE

Actors beware!  If you aren't getting the number of auditions you want or think you should, it might not be your agent's fault, but your own.  Why?  Agents can only do so much with the marketing tools you provide.  This means, that if you don't have professional head shots, get them without delay.  Your future depends on it.  It is no longer something you can not do afford to do.  The competition is fierce and your head shot is the first thing that a casting director looks at.  If they don't like what they see, there is nothing your agent can do about it.  So, don't blame them, blame yourself.  It is that important.

Now, as an agent, it is their fault as well for allowing actors to get by with lousy head shots.  I know I'm guilty of this very same thing and must be fixed.  This means, that LACA NOLA talent agents are going to be revamping the entire LACA NOLA WEBSITE.  Head shots of our actors, that aren't professional, are going to be removed as each individual head shot reflects all of us.  Keep that in mind.  Your head shot reflects YOU as an actor, the agency as your representation, and each other as part of the family.  LACA NOLA is setting high standards in order for all of us to compete in this industry.  We will be contacting you individually to inform you to update your head shots if needed.

So, when deciding on the photographer who will do your head shots, investigate them.  Look at their other work, and get recommendations.  You want the best, because we are the best.

DEAR DIARY
by Robby Cook Stroud

I am in Chicago working for FEMA. I was here in 2010 for the same flooding. I don’t understand how people can keep putting there personal items in a basement and keep losing them to flood waters. I’m from the south and it doesn’t make since to me to dig a hole and put furnaces, hot water heaters and other valuables in it. If you want 3 floors… build up.. Anyway, It is not as big as the 2010 flood ,and work is already slowing down, the bad news is Oklahoma got slammed to the ground and we will be very busy there for a while. I want to get to LA, but it might be another month before I am finished here.  This doesn't keep me from working on LACA NOLA and submitting to breakdowns etc as we have five people who constantly are on target with that.   
I want to congratulate JOHNNY ROCK for winning best reel contest and to JACK CURENTON who won 2nd place. 

This contest was national, and I think it states a lot about our KSK fan base to have 2 of our actors rise to the top. I will keep you all informed on face book. Be safe out there a I will too, Robby













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