Family pet acting in tv commercial?

There’s an old saying in the movie business that gets repeated often in video production for tv commercials…”Be careful working with children or pets”.  (Or it goes something like that anyway).  And from experience, I can tell you that this is often good advice to follow.  It’s not that I don’t love both when I’m not working, it’s just that trying to produce a television commercial under tight deadlines and budget constraints can be challenging enough without adding in these extra “unknowns” into the equation.  And I use the term unknowns because, often, even if you’ve done your homework and rehearsed or “vetted” the kid or the animal, and certainly the location, when it’s time to “perform” and say that one line or give you just one more take, things can suddenly unravel.  And if a bunch of production people are standing around waiting, then a budget is likely expanding and nerves being tested.  And I certainly never want to be one of those directors, that makes talent cringe (if even a pets owner in this example).

puppy for video shootSo I’m happy to say that a recent shoot turned out not to have any issues that involved a dog in tv commercial that I was involved in shooting & editing.  While no children were needed, the concept and script I’d been given called for a puppy and a young female to be the dog’s owner.  And without giving too much away, the puppy needed to “perform”.  And the budget had been set without a “dog handler”. And so, after location scouting, I showed up the day of the shoot to meet the puppy with quite frankly, little expectations but a bit of concern.  How would all my lights as well as numerous people “on set” affect the puppy?  And would I be able to capture the puppy doing a few, but very specific things, on camera?  And would my other actor get along with the puppy?

There’s another saying in hollywood about casting for romantic leads that says there’s no substitute for actual chemistry between two people (or something like that anyway).  So, no matter how good the acting, or cinematography and editing, you can sense the absence, when there is one, of a real “spark”.  I’ll let you be the judge by watching the finished spot here, but I feel like the puppy’s performance was great and that I captured real puppy love.  Hope you enjoy.