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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Scene 2, Take 1: Jasper's next scene

I’m just waiting for Jasper to require sparkling water, his own trailer and a personal petter. That is, if his film acting experience goes to his head.

Last week, I wrote about Jasper in his role as Jake, a dog character that appears in my daughter Corinne’s senior thesis film, Emily’s Revolution. In his first scene, Jasper was required to run away from me, toward an actress who was sitting under a tree in a park--and then come to his on-screen owner who attached a leash to Jasper’s collar.

When the camera was rolling, I wasn’t able to see most of the action. I worked hard to stay unnoticed by my dog, so I wouldn’t distract him and cause him not to focus his job. But our Jasper performed wonderfully, and later on I was able to see some of the raw footage. He looked awesome! Such a good boy!

But Jasper wasn't done; he still was required for another scene, shot the second weekend of filming.

This one required Jasper and his owner Zach, played by Patrick, to lay in bed sleeping. Zach gets a text message, which awakens him. He reads the note and gets out of bed, while Jasper stays.

Sounds easy enough, right? Asking a comfort hound like Jasper to lay on a bed next to a friend?

But then add lights, so it’s quite warm. And make the bed one that Jasper is normally not allowed in. And add Corinne in the tiny room, along with three other crew members working the camera and lighting. And Jasper, a momma’s boy, won’t have me on the bed with him.

And, like last week, have him do it over and over again.

A different challenge, but with last week's experience under our belts (or collars as the case may be), I thought we were up to it.

First, I needed to get Jasper comfortable being on a bed that is typically off limits. This wasn’t too hard, because I covered the bed with a blanket that Jasper knows is okay to lie on. During the few days between the scheduled shoots, I took Jasper in the room and lay down on the blanket and invited him up. Worked like a dream.

When it came time to shoot the scene, I asked Corinne to let me know when there were about 10 or 15 minutes left before the crew was ready. I brought Jasper into the room, and I lay down where Patrick would wind up. Jasper jumped right onto the bed and made himself comfortable next to me.

The door was open, so Tucker decided to join us as well.

I'm in position, with a slightly worried Jasper, and Tucker serving as understudy...just in case you needed another dog.

There was lots of activity in the room, which made Jasper a tad nervous; he tried to leave a few times, but a few ear scrunchies and a couple of belly rubs convinced him to stay. I used no treats for this scene, because I didn’t want chicken crumbs to distract him and because Jasper was supposed to be sleepy or sleeping as the scene starts. If there are treats involved, Jasper most certainly would not be resting; he’d be on high alert.

Patrick and Jasper ready for the shot. Jasper will tell you it was quite warm in the room, between all the people, the blanket and the lights.

As everything settled down, Corinne called Patrick into the room. I slid off the bed, and Patrick took my place.

This was Not Right, as far as Jasper was concerned. Mom left the bed! She might leave the room! 

We spent a few minutes convincing Jasper that I wasn't going anywhere and it was a good thing to lay down next to Patrick. With a worried look on his face, the dog complied, but he kept his eyes on me to make sure it was still okay. 

Why is everybody looking at me? I should go lick some faces.

What Jasper was looking at...before the camera moved in for a close up.
I crawled onto the floor, out of view of the camera and let the film crew--and actors (Patrick and Jasper) focus on their tasks.

No sound was required for this shot; the sound guy would capture the appropriate room noise, cell phone text sound, sheets rustling as needed later on.

Corinne called "Action!" and all Jasper had to do was stay in bed as Patrick woke up, looked at his phone and got out of bed. Again and again and again.

Eventually, Jasper simply got tired of the whole thing and put his head on Patrick's lap. Donavon, the director of photography (or cinetmatographer) quickly moved the camera in to get the shot. It was just perfect!

And then, the scene was wrapped, Jasper released...and on to the next shot.

After the scene, a kiss for Guillaume, the gaffer.

Jasper is happy to leave and get some treats.

Not all the action took place in front of the camera. With cast and crew numbering over a dozen at any one time, and many of them sleeping at eating at my home, there was a lot of behind-the-scenes activity involving Jasper, Lilah, Tucker--and even Athena. Dawn hid under my bed most of the time (except when a scene was shot in that room) where she composed letters of complaint to the management. In my next post, we'll take a look at some of the other action that took place during the filming of Emily's Revolution.

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