The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
- Jan 9, 2010
- Location (City and/or State)
- Southern California
This varies tremendously with every shot, with every show, and with every actor. Its not just me. I have a good friend and talented co-trainer that does the show with me, and our awesome cast members help too. Sometimes he's also going to a hidden buzzer with food on it, or to a mark. Its different for every piece of every shot, and its a team effort. Early on in seasons 9 and 10, I also sent Seven with other trainers while I was busy back home in CA. I run a whole company, and we do many shows, movies and TV. I have a whole team of super cool and talented people that works together to make it all happen. TWD is just one of the shows we do.Found a best of Dog clip on youtube. Cool!!! So Tom, I figure your close by, I can see Seven go off screen intentionally and I assume to you. But how much do you work with the actors to teach them how to give your dog commands? Maybe you don’t have to coach the actors so much because your dog is superior ? (AKA bad a**)
We've reached a point where Seven and Norman Reedus love each other. Seven usually has his attention on me. He tolerates most other people just fine, but he loves his people. Norman is one of his people now. He rarely shows genuine affection for other people, but he will go to Norman between takes and just hang out and get petted. I just unclip the leash and walk away sometimes. He doesn't do that with anyone but me most of the time. In many scenes we've found its best to let Norman work the dog and tell Seven what to do. It can be very helpful to have that "tool" in your bag of tricks. There are many times in scenes where it looks like Dog is just doing what Daryl tells him to do and just goes along with him. That's because he is. Norman just tells him "c'mon boy", and they walk away together. Its super cool to have that, and super helpful for getting some of the shots.
The actress who played Leah in this episode that the article was about, was also fantastic with him. From the first meet and greet we did before filming, she had a way with Seven and Seven liked her too. During some of the scenes she would instinctively belt out a command, and he'd listen to her. Seven REALLY REALLY likes to grab stuff and tear stuff up. There was a scene where "Leah" had to drag a dead walker out of her cabin and Seven really wanted to "get it". In rehearsals, I had to loudly and emphatically tell him to "LEAVE IT!!!" and he could barely contain himself. So camera starts rolling, they yell "ACTION!", and Leah walks in and grabs the dead walker by the heels and starts dragging him out. Seven starts crab crawling over to it and even snapped at it, and the actress out of nowhere in the middle of this dark and serious scene goes, "LEAVE IT!!!", and Seven listened to her! That damn dog barely listens to me when he thinks he can get away with it, but she said it like she meant it and he behaved for her. I haven't seen the episode yet, so I don't know if they left that part in or not. I looked and felt so natural when she did it.
Same with Melissa. She's also a dog lover, and she was extremely helpful and excellent with Seven. She tolerated his craziness, and we could not have gotten some of those scenes done without a lot of help from her. Working with her has been very enjoyable, and she is also now one of Seven's "people".
This show has been the most difficult and challenging show of my entire career. I've fallen flat on my face, figuratively speaking, many times. I didn't fail this many times when I was first starting in the business 25 years ago .The way they film it with multiple cameras pointing every direction, and every shot is huge and they see the whole world, there is sometime no where to be to work the dog, and no way to cue the dog properly. They also like to shoot the whole scene in one instead of breaking it up into more manageable pieces like most shows. I've had to learn, grow, and figure out how to train Seven and manage the unique demands of this show. So while it has been difficult, frustrating, complicated, and seemingly impossible at times, it has also been extremely rewarding and fulfilling to learn, grow, and rise to the challenge. Success on this show feels even better than success on a "normal" show. My whole career has been an amazing adventure, but this show is truly the cherry on top. Every day I'm driving around Georgia, I can't believe how lucky I am to be here and what an amazing opportunity this has been.
The adventure continues. We have a 9am tech scout and meeting with the new director for the upcoming episodes. Time for me to get going for another day on TWD. I was already a fan and watched the show prior to working on it, so being here feels almost like being a kid that gets to go to Disneyland every day.