Yesterday I talked all about my Interview with Director Charlie Bean and Producer Brigham Taylor. In that interview, they talked a lot about the actual dogs. One of the most important people in the film is of course the animal trainer. Mark Forbes has that role in this movie and it was such a pleasure talking to him about his role in this movie. While he told us all about the animals, we also got to see their wonderful accommodations and their plentiful room to roam around.
My Interview with Mark Forbes:
Mark told us they cast “The Tramp” from a picture. They loved what they saw and then flew out to check him out, as well as his temperament. They loved him and they adopted him. They had him 4 ½ months before they started shooting so they really got used to him. He told us that he was about a year old when they got him.
They got all the dogs over a period of time with the last dog being Jagger who playes Isaac, the “mean, heavy” street dog. They got him about 8 weeks before they started filming. It was a 2 ½ month process to cast and about 7 or 8 were complete rescued, strays. Other dogs came from breeders and a couple from private homes. A few came from breeders. A couple came from private homes.
We asked him if he was worried about them getting trained. He told us not really as it is all about positive reinforcement. It is all about getting them to be on a team. They start with the basics in the beginning and go from there.
“We start training them to sit, lie down, on your feet, go get a mark, stay. It’s about eight behaviors. We’ll spend the first 6 to 8 weeks doing nothing but that. But while we’re doing that we’re taking them to different places and getting them used to new people so that when we get done with that basic period the tricks, all the special little behaviors really are developed.”
He told us the hardest part in a talking dog movie is getting the dog to look in the right direction, whether it be looking at another dog or another actor. He said it is all about eye lines and them using a big stick to teach them to look at the bait stick.
“We teach them to work away which is they work away from us to a treat whether the treats on the ground or we give you a treat and they’re working towards you. It’s really the hardest part of our job. It’s where we use, other than a complete CG dog, the most sort of moving action which is split screens to hide a trainer or completely painting out the trainer.”
He told us a lot of time the trainers are in costumes to help the process along. They want to the dog to be as natural as possible.
He told us they had two other tramps. Wendell was the first dog that that they rescued. Wendell’s story was he was in a gang in LA. Literally he was in a pack of dogs that was just roaming the streets. And sadly he killed another dog. And they caught the whole pack. And they were going to euthanize him. They were doing a temperament test with all of them. But they saw his picture online. He looked like a gray possible tramp.
“So we called and talked to them. And they had done one temperament test. They were going to do another. We tried to tell them he was just hanging out with the wrong crowd. We actually have experience with this. Give us a chance. And they did. They let us take him on. And he’s ended up being a wonderful dog. He’s a little bit darker than Monty is especially in the face which is why I think they ended up with Monty. But we have Wendell. Wendell is here. He’s getting trained every day. He’s going to be in our pound scene that we’re going to do.”
“Lady and the Tramp” debuts on November 12, 2019, streaming only on Disney +.
*Thanks to Disney for providing me accommodations to Savannah to attend this event. All opinions are my own and not swayed by outside sources.*