See Spot Run
Gordon, played by David Arquette, is a mailman with a quintessential fear of dogs and a crush on his neighbor, a single mom with a young son, James. When Gordon volunteers to baby-sit for James while mom's away, he believes it will be a chance to do some bonding and earn points with his paramour. Instead, he and the boy are adopted by an FBI drug-sniffing superdog that has escaped from the witness protection program after becoming the target of a mob hit.
- Starring: David Arquette, Paul Sorvino, Leslie Bibb, Michael Clarke Duncan and Angus T. Jones
- Director(s): John Whitesell
- Producer(s): See Spot Run Productions
- Screenwriter(s): George Gallo, Gregory Poirer, Dan Baron, Chris Faber
- Distributor: Warner Brothers, Inc.
- Animal Coordinator: Birds and Animals Unlimited
- Release Date: Friday, March 02, 2001
- Rating: Acceptable
Featured Animal Action
Hero Dog The superdog, Agent 11, is played by 5 Bull Mastiffs named Buster, Bob, Charlie, Tyson, and Golith. Agent 11 busts a mob smuggling operation and inadvertently attacks the Don, played by Paul Sorvino. The injury is incurred when the dog bites the crotch of the gang boss. The crime bust scene features Agent 11 jumping on top of large shipping containers and taking control of the situation. The dog, accompanied by a trainer, was lifted to position on a hydraulic lift. The jumping was done in increments that were created by platforms. Once on top of the container, the dog was harnessed for safety. Pre-production training was necessary to get Agent 11 to go for the Don's private parts, using a pouch of treats to direct the dog's focus and specify the area of attack. The dog was also prepped to the simulated sound of breaking glass. During filming, a stunt double who was prepped with the dog was used in place of the actor. Going Postal All this is happening while Gordon goes about his rounds as a mailman. His lowest point of the delivery day is always Bleeker Street, where the dogs are particularly annoying to mail carriers--especially Gordon. Gordon openly admits loathing dogs, but that is actually a cover for his fear. Undaunted, Gordon has a plan to foil each of his canine foes.The dogs of Bleeker Street, a canine gauntlet that Gordon must face daily, are played by Wolfie (a Sheep Dog), Zeus (a Bull Terrier), Enzo (a Jack Russel), Linus (a French Bull dog), Auto (Sheep Dog mix), and Andre the St. Bernard. Gordon has a diversion planned for each of the dogs. One of the most harrowing involves Wolfie, who waits for him while hiding in a hole in the dirt. As Wolfie sets off after him, Gordon sprays the path with soapy water causing the dog to careen head first into the gate. For this scene, the path was covered in smooth, slick plexi-glass, the gate was made of soft balsa wood, and all the posts were pre-made with incisions to break away easily. The dog was not in danger of hurting himself and was prepped in pre-production for the grand slide. When Wolfie jumps onto the mailman and knocks him over, the scene was shot in cuts and filmed in stages. A stuntman was used in place of the actor and the dog was prepped to stand with its paws on the stuntman. Boodles, played by Enzo of My Dog Skip fame, eagerly jumps up and down when the postman is sighted. Although this is to make the dog appear manic, this is a behavior that Enzo loves to do and for which he is rewarded handsomely. Later in the film, Enzo figures prominently and actually comes to Gordon's aid in his battle with the mob. General humane training techniques were utilized in pre-production and throughout filming. These included the use of buzzer patterning, verbal and visual commands, and food rewards. The dogs were trained in pre-production to do a variety of behaviors such as take it, close the door, knock over the water dish, catch the frisbie, give the ball, stand, speak, and basics like sit, stay, lay down, etc. Many of the dogs were prepped with specific props and conditioned to be in scenes together. The Running Begins The injury inflicted by Agent 11 is so personal that the Don puts a contract out on the dog's life. Agent 11 is about to go into a witness protection program, but escapes. He finds his way into Gordon's delivery truck and is instantly adopted by 6-year old James, who names his new friend "Spot." This is one of several escape scenes for which the dog was prepped and elaborate planning took place. When Agent 11 jumps onto and over a car--going onto the car trunk, the hood, and the roof--the car had a non-slip preparation sprayed onto the surface for safety. The scene was filmed in cuts, which gave the trainers and the dog more control in the jumps. When the dog had to jump up onto a table, the AHA Field Representative required that the padding be taped down and that human crew members help secure all four legs. During the chase scene when the dog jumps over a high fence, platforms were set up on either side of the fence to reduce the height the dog had to clear. To Play or Not to Play Gordon and James take Spot to the park and the boy desperately wants to play with the dog. Spot, conditioned to be the stoic FBI agent, has flashbacks of being trained to ignore the game, refrain from the distraction of chasing the ball, and basically trade fun for focus. Earlier during a flashback, we see a lineup of adorable pups that are agents in training with Spot, aka Agent 11, as their fearless example. Five, eight week old English Mastiff puppies were used for the scene. All were obtained from a local breeder and went back after the brief scene-work was completed. Careful precautions were in place during the time the puppies were on set including antiseptic footbaths for all cast and crew and limited interaction with the pups by trained handlers. In the park scene, other breeds were on hand to represent local pets. Some of these other breeds included a German Shephard, Sheep Dog, Staffordshire Terrier, French Bull Dog, Chihuahua, Huskies, St. Bernard, Greyhound, and Border Collie. While these dogs are seen on leashes or happily frolicking in the park, Spot takes off after a purse snatcher. Spot pursues the thief, steals the purse back, and returns it to its owner. To heighten the dog's interest in the purse, it was filled with food. Chaos Ensues Gordon has a reputation as a bit of a slob and an accident ready to happen. Of course, an accident does happen while he is driving his van filled with mail, James, and Spot. During the accident, the mail van spins around and crashes into a fire hydrant. The spin was actually done on a controlled turntable with the dog anchored to a trainer hidden behind him. In other scenes when the dog is seen in the moving van, the van was being controlled at low speed by a tow ramp. Feckless Gordon finds himself locked out of his own apartment one night by the dog. Spot is able to jump through the window, land on the bed and pick up a ball. In contrast, Gordon is unable to keep from falling over and losing his pajamas. This was another great jump for our canine hero and was shot in cuts. A platform was built outside the window to decrease the height of the jump and to give the appearance of a super-dog stunt. As a punishment, Gordon ties the dog to the radiator with a rope of bed sheets. The sheet was loosely tied and removed between takes. As Arliss and Gino, the hit men for the mob, close in on Agent 11, the dog and his new pals evade them and create elaborate chaos in a pet store. A live parrot named Ruby and her fake double parrot were used to abuse Arliss. The bird pecks at and attaches itself to his head. The live parrot was h andled by the trainer. Ruby was trained to peck on command and this was filmed in a close up. When Arliss throws the bird around, it is the fake bird that is used and the stuffed bird that is attached to his head. Gino's fate is not much better. He falls into tarantulas and sea urchins. The sea urchins and tarantulas were fake ones used for the fall with live spiders for the close ups. All of the live insects were placed by the trainer. When Spot and James work together to trip up the gangsters, the dog was trained to pick up a rope and back up. It held the leash in its mouth, while the trainer held the other end. Then, shelves begin to fall in a domino effect because the dog pushes them over. All of this chaos was filmed in cuts and no live animals were in harm's way. Among the animals used in this scene were Guinea Pigs that run past the mobsters lying on floor under a fallen shelf. They were released by one trainer and buzzer trained to run A to B. Background animals included 17 budgies, 6 rats, 18 tarantulas plus fake ones, 5 Guinea Pigs, Tropical Fish, plus fake fish moved by fishing line that was controlled off camera. Approximately 10 aquariums were set up by professional handlers for this scene. Agent 11 and his Canine Swat Team Following the pet shop fiasco, the mob remains more determined than ever to get Agent 11. Their next attempt involves the dogs of Bleeker Street, who get to menace the mob and help save one of their own. Boodles, played by Enzo the Jack Russel Terrier, attaches himself to the back of one of the goons and goes for his throat. Boodles growls from the planter box where a trainer who is not visible to the camera secures him. When Boodles jumps onto the planter box, the illusion is created with the help of a platform strategically built to shorten the actual jump and enhanced by camera angles. Once on the mobster's back, a special harness was made to support the dog's legs, stomach, and neck. The dog's legs rested on the actor's or stuntman's back. A Boodles stuffy was on hand, but the real Enzo was gently tossed out the window to a waiting trainer and mattress pad located just outside the window. The pad was constructed only feet from the actual floor, not two stories up as the establishing shots would have you believe. To make it appear as if the dog is attacking the neck of the gangster, a chew tube was placed under the actor's jacket and attached to a back brace so it appears as though the dog is hanging by its mouth from the actor's collar. For the jump onto a stuntman's back, a ramp was in place to minimize the distance for the dog and make it appear more dramatic. For many of the takes, the dog was placed onto the actor/stuntman by the trainer. A stuffie was used when Spot flies out the window after the Don. Wolfie knocks down a gangster, lands with its front paws on the man's stomach, and they both slide into the gate--much as Wolfie had done on his own in an earlier scene. Again, plexi-glass covered the path and a plastic sheet was placed under the man and hind legs of the dog. The dog was placed onto the actor who was cabled and pulled into the gate. The dog merely went for the ride. Needless to say, Spot runs, we see it, and justice prevails. Animal Extras In a scene where James is at home with Gordon, the boy plays with the fish tank. James amuses himself by chasing the fish with a plastic hand on the end of a stick. This was not disturbing to the fish. See Spot Run was filmed in Canada with on set monitoring by the British Columbia S.P.C.A. per the American Humane Association Guidelines.