I had an experience that gave me a fascinating view of Zachary Quinto, the new Spock, in action, – and a behind-the-scenes look at the process of making film magic. Zachary and Sian Heder, a talented writer/director and Zach’s Carnegie-Mellon classmate, created a short comedy, Dog Eat Dog, about Zachary’s first attempt to adopt a dog from a shelter.
They funded it via Kickstarter, an increasingly effective way for independent films to get funding – “cloud funding”. Their presentation of their project was particularly effective and they ended up raising far more than the minimum asked for. (Check out their Kickstarter site here.) I signed on as one of the three “fan” Executive Producers and went to Hollywood December 2011 to watch the shoot. You can read my report on that experience here.
Dog Eat Dog premiered at the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival – a wonderful, hilarious, beautifully put together movie. I went and was able to interview Sian before the premiere – about her experience with Zachary, Kickstarter and the dogs. Click here to see my interview with Sian.
Then into the theater and Dog Eat Dog on the screen! It was amazing to see the scenes I had watched being shot as they appeared through the camera’s eye and how effectively the different shots had been combined into a seamless whole. For example, in December, one scene I watched was an interaction between Zachary Quinto and Sharon Wilkins, who played the shelter attendant. They shot the several pieces over and over, from different angles – what he said, what she said, what they look at. After getting the main shots Sian and Cinematographer Paula Huidobro set up the camera on a short track to pan past some bobble-headed dogs on the counter. Cute, but what were they trying to do? I found out when Dog Eat Dog opened – to a view panning from one adorable bobble puppy to another – with background music perfectly mirroring the rhythm of the heads! Sharon commands “Don’t do that!”. And Zachary pulls back with a pout and a manipulative glance. Right away the whole premise of the film has been brilliantly set up!
Sian already has a reputation for excellent films. Her short “Mother” got awards and she’s working on a full length production. I look forward to seeing it. Zachary lives up to his reputation as one of our most versatile and talented actors. His compulsive self-centered and touchingly dog-obsessed character seemed as natural as his pointy-eared brilliant and slightly alien Spock. I have seen Zachary in a number of roles now – Sasan in So Notorious, Sylar in Heroes, Spock in Star Trek 2009, Louis in Angels in America, Chad in American Horror Story – and I’ve seen him chatting with the audience at the Las Vegas Star Trek convention. For each I think “Ah, that’s what he’s like.” Then I realize he personally can’t be all of those! I hear that’s one sign of a truly great actor. Working with Sian brought out his own comedic flare more brilliantly than I’ve seen before.
These people really make magic! To watch the process is magical in itself. I wish you could see Dog Eat Dog, but the distribution has not been decided last I heard. When I hear, I’ll let you know.
Update!!! It was bought by Petsami and is available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/rWEiQxvg6Jo
StarTrek.com has posted some fascinating interviews. One I particularly enjoyed is a two part interview with Director David Livingston who has worked about 20 years on various Star Trek productions. He started as the production manager on STNG’s “Encounter at FarPoint”, a grueling job. I love his comment about when he was offered the chance to become a director. ” I actually went into therapy to try and deal with my fears and anxieties about doing it. I took classes through the Director’s Guild. I did scene study and talked to the (TNG) editors and other directors. I went to the set to see what other people were doing and sat in with the editors. I went to our DIT school and finally Rick gave me an opportunity to direct.” Ah yes, fears and anxieties about dreams coming true! And the willingness to do the step-by-step footwork to prepare.
– Part 1
– Part 2