It is Thursday, May 10th. Unfortunately, they scratched the scene of Seven running down the street. I was really looking forward to that one. That was the scene that struck fear into Phil's heart (animal talent agent). As greyhound people know, you just do not turn a greyhound loose on a street and hope everything will turn out okay. But it would have been a very easy scene for Seven. I had no worries. I had even trained her to run straight to a far away target that was not very visible in case they wanted to film her running away from the camera. We were ready for whatever they wanted.
But filming days were running low and they decided to film Seven running on a stage that looks like the side of a house. This was so easy, but this was one of the few scenes they allowed us on set to practice. I showed Seven that I had steak, Phil walked her through the stage and around the corner, and then he just let go of her. I did not even call her. She would race around the corner and through the fake bushes to me.
Ready for her street scene
After Seven's first scene run through, I requested some sort of matting to give her traction as she ran off the stage. They wanted her to run towards and then past the camera so that left her stopping on smooth concrete. This is an example of a situation that would drive me crazy. I know that Phil was just trying to be my advocate, but he would be so dramatic about the requests. The crew was going to get the mats because I asked for them. They do not care to know the 101 reasons why we are asking for them.
Phil and Tonya, the American Humane Association rep, were also both quick to list all of the things we were not willing to do. Of course, the crew member being bombarded with this information does not wish to be the bearer of bad news to Michael Bay. My feeling was I would rather just see what he wanted first and then tell Bay if I was not willing to ask that of my hound. I know Phil and Tonya were trying to protect me from Michael Bay, but I really was not that concerned about having to be firm about something. I had nothing to lose. They needed me.
So we arrived promptly at 8:30 AM.... so you know what that means... 8 hours later when I started to earn overtime, it was finally time to shoot Seven's scene. So what did we do for 8 hours?
In the morning, we sat at the picnic table near the front doors so we could watch the actors arrive. The Rock always walked over and said hello as he passed by. Mark was always driven and went straight in. Most of the crew had 2-way radios with ear pieces and small microphone. When it was time for one of the actors to come over, you would see someone from the crew watch for the actor's arrival, open the front door, and usher them in. The crew would get frantic if one of the actors was late or defiant.
At dinner with Anthony the night before, we talked about various members of the crew. We deemed Tony the assistant director as "The Terrorist" due to his beard. When Anthony arrived on set Thursday morning, he was greeted by Tony The Terrorist, but Anthony saw us at our picnic table and headed over to say hello and to give hugs. You could tell Tony was concerned about turning this ship around. But Denise and I felt important as Anthony held up the crew an extra minute to greet us.
Recall that Anthony did not have an assistant so Seven's entourage made sure he knew when the sandwich cart came out with fresh sandwiches and regularly asked if he needed anything.
Tonya, the American Humane Association rep, gave me a nice compliment. She said that she often dreads jobs that oversee the work of a third party animal handler (like me, newbie, not my real job, a little star struck). Third party newbies are often nervous and lack common sense, but she said I handled myself very well on set and that I obviously was very aware and concerned about my dogs' comfort. The bonus is that I have plenty of experience at managing my dogs at events. I know how to keep them warm/cool, rested, relaxed, and motivated. She said that sometimes people just show up with their dog on a leash. That makes for a very long day if you are stuck there for ten hours like we often were.
Photo from a Hollywood Website
We also saw Bar Paly. She is a supermodel from Israel and plays the girlfriend of Mark Wahlberg's character. We were later told that she was asked to gain 10 pounds for the movie. In the above photo, I can see the ten pounds, but I think she had lost them by the time we saw her in person. She is so tiny and tall in her ten inch heels. We were impressed that she walked over from the trailers in those torturous shoes. She looked very serious and unapproachable as she passed us, but we smiled and said hello anyway. She returned the greeting and her entire expression softened and she seemed genuinely thrilled that someone said hi to her.
The rest of our day was filled with watching Mark and The Rock come and go, chatting and joking with Anthony, hanging out with Mark and Rock's assistants, and watching scenes on the monitor.
As soon as overtime pay kicked in, it was time to film Seven's scene. We had to remind Bay and the crew that she should have blood on her. We quickly painted her up with some fake blood that is safe to consume. This time when she ran through the bushes she was greeted by a crew and camera and hesitated briefly until she zeroed in on me and her steak. Bay was pleased. Seven bolted around the side of the stage house and crashed through the bushes every time. She did this several times and then we were wrapped for the day and I gave her a bath.
The next day, we headed back to Atlanta. As we checked out of the hotel, I gave the manager at the front desk my name and she said "Oh, you are with the production company. How was everything? How did everything go? Here is my card. Please let me know if you need anything." Made me feel a little famous.