We caught up with Superpower Dogs producer Taran Davies in LA for an update on filming, and to find out about a very special crowd-funding campaign
What is the exciting new campaign all about?
A couple of days ago we launched an Indiegogo campaign – a crowd funding project that will help us to continue to be able to film Halo in the critical junctures in her journey from puppy to urban search and rescue dog. This is a two-year journey that we are on and so we have asked for $50,000 on the campaign and I’m pleased to say that we raised 70 per cent of what we were looking for in the first three days! It’s really great – we are happy for Halo, it’s a tremendous success.
As part of the campaign we have some tremendous perks on offer, such as experiences to come on set and to have your dog’s photograph in the movie credits or even your dog in the movie itself! We have some great merchandise to celebrate dogs and the human-dog bond such as mugs and dog bowls and t-shirts and all kinds of fun stuff. But in addition, we will be contributing 20 per cent of the profits of the campaign to working dog organisations that are helping to train working dogs.
How important is it for the Superpower Dogs team to donate that 20 per cent and support the working dog community?
As filmmakers, traditionally as much as one can do is raise awareness about a subject. For example our partner George’s movie ‘The End Of The Line’ helped to raise awareness about overfishing in the world’s oceans. What we want to do [with Superpower Dogs] is not just that, but to facilitate funding to these organisations so that we can help to make sure that there is a working dog for everyone who is in need.
What we discovered as we’ve been making this film is just how hard the handlers and first responders work to train their dogs and how much of a financial burden they have to take on themselves. From the housing of the dog, the training and looking after the dog – much of this is volunteer work! As we’ve become aware of that and as we have also begun to increasingly understand just how valuable these dogs are and their amazing abilities, we’ve realised that this financial contribution is really important! Already we have raised close to $10,000 that will go directly to our working dog organisation partners such as the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation and the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association. That’s important to them and it’s important to us.
What are the other stages of filming and how is everything going?
One of the other key points of the Indiegogo campaign is for us to succeed and show the potential sponsors and distributers for these movies the love and interest that there is in the working dog community and in a movie like this! So right now we are closing the balance of the funding that will allow us to go out and shoot the rest of the film. The key for now though is that we need to start with Halo – it’s rather like that movie ‘Boyhood’ – we are following the story of a puppy over two years and we needed to start when we did several weeks ago so that we would be able to deliver this movie sooner rather than later! Certainly it will allow us to film Halo’s next key phase in her training and growth – that’s number one! And then when we have closed on the balance of the financing we will be able to film all the rest of our wonderful canine cast next year!
Are there any of the superpower dogs that you’ve worked with that have touched your heart?
It’s definitely the surf dog Ricochet! She really is the most amazing dog. It’s not even her skills as a surfer that is of course very exciting and a lot of fun, but it’s actually her extraordinary empathy that she has for people and an understanding of someone who is in any sort of distress. She has this innate understanding when someone is sick or disturbed or stressed and she can care for that person! To see that is a really incredibly moving experience. What’s fascinating for me is that an Imax film for me is all about the drama and excitement and we are going to so many impressive landscapes and with the avalanche rescue dogs, dogs jumping out of helicopters to save swimmers in distress etcetera … but this film is really a story of the heart, and of the human-dog relationship which is so important for us. I think Ricochet really embodies that. I’m not a good surfer, but if I were to try, Ricochet is the one to teach me!
You can also follow Superpower Dogs on their social media channels or head to superpowerdogs.com to see more of Halo and extra footage of the amazing cast of working dogs featured in the film.