A recent job that Dogsquad Canine Services was contracted to do was "Jack Irish", an ABC Production. A great series with many well known faces from the Australian Television Industry as well as actors well known world wide. In a typical ABC fashion of fantastic script writing, producers, directors, Art Department, Crew and Cast collaborated and came up with the goods yet again with the new multi part series currently running to air.
Working for the ABC on any job is like coming home to family (slightly disfunctional in some ways) but family all the same. Everybody helps and no body seems to fuss or carry on, a relaxed kind of chaos.
As an Animal Wrangler then I am the Art Departments problem in conjunction with fitting in with the wishes of the Director, First AD, Safety Officer, Actors, Camera Operators, etc etc.
My job is to liase with all of these and make the script translate to what the animals can actually do.
As a business I try to over deliver and will make suggestions along the way as to what they can get above what they originally thought of. I will also step in and stand firm when safety is an issue for either my animals or for those handling them. Sometimes this is not well received so keeping a smile and making an alternative suggestion instead of just flagging the issue gets us through without incident.
Sometimes there needs to be a collaboration with outside trainers or services if they have the animal talent that is required. I then work in conjunction with them on set and liase between production and keep things on track. With Jack Irish this was definitely the case and I brought in Task9 and two of their top trainer/handlers as well as one of their best Dem dogs called Rocket.
We also used two personal dogs of one of the trainers as extras, Dozer and Kelvin.
When you need to source talent for a job then you need to be very sure that they can deliver what you have promised or it comes back on your own business and will jeopardise further work in the industry.
Task9 is one of the few that I would have approached for what was required in this script. I have worked with Rocket before and knew exactly how he was trained and what his safety parameters were. He is not a 'pet' he is a highly trained tactical service dog. When he is sent in on a target he does not 'act'. The trainers are people I can trust totally and I know will always get the job done in a safe and professional manner. (they are a lot of fun too)
Everything is real time for Rocket so Safety protocols have to be put in place and adhered to at all times while he is on set. I needed to Educate the cast and crew that were to be working around him as well as being personally involved in every scene and making sure that safety was paramount. I can be a bit of a fun police on these aspects of filmwork.
Along with these great dogs was Pepper my own German Shepherd Bitch, a little mad for sure but always very keen to please! Juggling 4 dogs on set at once is not ideal so for some shots it did get a little tricky. At other times the focus was on a single dog or a pair.
The set that needed to be built on site was a doozy! Kudos to Jane in the Art Department for pulling it off as she over delivered the safety aspects brilliantly. It still required a level of athletism and quick footwork for the dogs as well as Sean who was our chew toy down in the pit as well as the hoister for Pepper to get from the platform to the dirt wall safely each take.
The following pics are of Chris handling Rocket down in the pit after the platform was removed. the script required the dog to run up the wall but not manage to get out.
When working with a dog such as Rocket then there needs to be a release of energy if he has been sent in take after take but not actually received the reward of the bite.
Sometimes there needs to be a bit of R&R just to take the edge off and to keep his faith that he will be rewarded for his great work. Even a dog as highly trained as Rocket needs to receive reward or his level of intensity will drop or there is a chance that he will take his own reward when it is not really appropriate. Always keep your level of reward high and then you will always get the best the dog can give you.