Sally had nine days of shooting for the making of Saving Dinah. We worked on fifteen different sets/locations over those days. Ranging from bedroom to street to burning barn Sally worked off leash, on leash, from flat out running to crated and had some horrific moments too (Huge shout out to all the actors who didn’t want to hurt her .. luckily for us all she thought it was all part of her game!) She loved every minute of the work – and she was perfect. As I’ve said before the errors made were not hers they were mine so she never ever knew there were any glitches at all!
On interior shoots there is an automatic clapboard that counts down the take number. It makes a very specific noise that some dogs find strange. After the second time it counted down Diva Sally would hear it and perk up hoping she was going to work, even on the last long day curled up in her crate -she checked the action every time she heard the slate. The actors and crew worked hard to help Sally. If she needed quiet she got it (rarely needed it but it was nice to know it was a possibility). They all built relationships with her off camera which meant she was happy to “go” with her family and friends anytime. She picked up on the moods of the scenes generally. Sometimes her perceptions were astounding. She could be nearly dead on camera then bouncing around hollering for a game of tug as soon as “cut” was heard.
Amazing stuff with Thea on the last day too. She was cast as a bait dog for a dog fight ring (nickname “Snack” – yah turns out film people, at least for this film, have a sense of humour as dark as mine!). Held up, she was shown to the people watching the fight then slowly lowered down. She thought it was great. Wanted to do more in fact. Lots more. But she and the actor, and the extras, nailed it right off! Her only day on set and she had everybody wrapped around her paw at first Wooooooo.
I actually couldn’t tell you how many scenes Dinah is seen in …over 30 were shot – my guess is lots will wind up on the cutting room floor but there are some moments I really want to see .. she’s a pretty photogenic girl our Sally. She runs, she plays, she curls up with people and a puppy, she gives good loving to stressed out people, she hops in and out of cars, she goes for a jog, she saves people and is saved by people and so much more.
She was never tied in place or coerced into doing any of her scenes. We were fully compliant with the AHA guidelines for filming although there was no rep on site. She willingly and happily bounced into position take after take, after take after take. She took long breaks some days while shots were being discussed and lighting was being arranged. She blocked scenes with the actors so they’d know what to do and was very happy hanging out around the cast and crew. She offered her favourite people her famous somersaults.
Very few people on the film truly understood how well cast Sally was, how good she was and how hard she worked, but nearly everybody loved her. One person who did understand what a super star she was, the FX man Mark, was very complimentary about her again on the last day … there was tons of smoke generated for the fire and Sally worked through it all in her calm and steady fashion.
As I left the set the coop students did a little exit interview for what I’m guessing is their last Saving Dinah video blog. They asked me to reflect on my experience. It was unique and special and something to add to my media list. I had the chance to work with WONDERFUL people who I will miss a great deal but if I had to pick one thing to be grateful for it would be the chance I got to truly understand and appreciate the relationship Sally and I have and what a phenomenal dog she is.
What a neat, hard working, learning experience! What a good, great, awesome dog!