We even got to have an intimate chat with Director Lev L. Spiro, Producer Sarah E. White, and Mathilde DeCagny, an amazing animal trainer with Birds and Animals Unlimited of Hollywood. It was fascinating hearing about all of the little tricks used on the set to get the animals to play the parts in the films. I never realized how involved the training process was, or how many "tricks" these pups were really able to do. If only MY dogs were so well-trained...Hmph...Maybe someday!
The movie crew and trainers had to get awfully creative while filming, and some of their methods are completely genius! For example, to get the dogs to bob their heads, sway, or look in one direction simultaneously, the trainers employed the use of a "look stick". This is a tool that looks much like a cane for the vision-impaired and it has a ball attached to the end. The pups paid very close attention to that ball, and this helped greatly during filming. The dogs also had their "mark" on the set. This is a small, circular disc that is placed on the floor where the dog is supposed to go during a scene. The dogs are trained to recognize this, and will go sit on their mark. A little birdie told me this also helped the camera crew, since they always knew which direction to point the camera!
-95% of the dogs used were rescues. The folks at Birds and Animals Unlimited of Hollywood actually visit shelters to find their "talent". They have a certain temperment they look for in an animal. According to Ms. DeCagny, they looked for dogs with high energy. Sometimes TOO much energy, and even undesirable puppy behavior. With loads of training, redirection, and oodles and oodles of treats, they transform dogs who may be dubbed a "lost cause" into Hollywood stars! The pups get a brand new shot at life, and we get some of the best entertainment out there!
-Director Lev Spiro is a big-time dog lover. He actually has a pup of his own, who randomly appears throughout the film on the cover of "Better Dogs and Gardens Magazine". Why didn't she star in the film beside Papi, Chloe, and the rest of the pups?? Because Mr. Spiro feared that his dog would eat them. True story. When you check out the movie for yourself, be sure to try and count how many times you see this hidden cameo appearance! But, in the words of Mr. Spiro himself, you might not want to make a drinking game out of it if the kids are around!
-Filming days are 12 hours long but the dogs film intermittently throughout the day. They have plenty of food, water, and places to nap on the set, so the pups are never overworked. The stars do have doggy stunt doubles, but they were used very sparingly during filming. In fact, Chloe's stunt double wasn't called in at all! Yep, she's a talented Doggy Diva!
-27 dogs were used in the filming of this movie. The Quinceneara scene was the most hectic since all the dogs were on the set at once. Now that's a lot of pups to direct all at once! They actually ad trainers present throughout filming and had to hide them in creative ways so they wouldn't appear onscreen.
-How did they keep the pups raring and ready to go? Treats. Tons and tons of treats. Yep, these dogs are living the good life! Now if only I could get my husband to hand-feed me Spanakopita after I did my household chores...Must be nice!
-Thus film was shot over a period of 5 weeks at the stunning Langham Huntington Pasadena. Each scene took an averake of 3-4 takes, but some of the more complicated ones took 7-8 takes before they achieved the cinematic perfection Disney is known for.
Here are some photo highlights from our Q&A session:
Ms. DeCagny is absolutely gifted when it comes to training dogs. She is actually the trainer who owned and trained the lovable Jack Russell, "Eddie" from the hit sitcom, "Frasier"! She showed us a ton of tricks and gave a lot of very helpful tips for those of us with puppy problems. I had a lot of questions I could use her expertise with, and she actually giggled a little when I started my inquiry with "I have 2 toddlers, a 12 year old, a 9 month old Yorkie, a 12 week old Shih-Tzu, and a 5 year old Jack-A-Bee......" She laughed and told me I have my hands very, very full. She's absolutely right about that! She was able to give me some great pointers in regards to housebreaking, obedience training, and even how to get my mischievous pups to stop chewing the babies' toys.
1. Papi, you're such a wonderful father to your pups. What is the most challenging part of caring for your brood?
Deciding when to be their amigo, and when to be their dad. Which usually depends on whether or not Chloe is looking.
2. Chloe, you are the perfect doggy mascot for the Lanhgam Huntington Pasadena. What is your favorite thing about this position? The clothes? The photoshoots? Or maybe the peanut butter closet?
Being the face of the Langham has been a total dream job; there’s so much to love! But as a working mom, the best part of the day is when it’s time to run home to my pups. So my favorite part of the position? The commute!
3. Papi, I know you have a powerful sense of smell. What's the most interesting "Pee-Mail" you've received while staying at the Langham? Perhaps a celeb's pup sent a message you'd like to share?
I’ve gotten lots of messages from celebridogs! Mostly asking to keep Papi Jr leashed at the hotel. But ever since Lala signed me up for this discount site, Poopon, all I get is a whole lot of grooming offers.
4. We're all dying to know if Uncle Pedro and Charlotte are an item now?
A gentleman never licks and tells, so Uncle Pedro is keeping mum…for now!
5. Speaking of the Peanut Butter closet...Which is best...Chunky, creamy, or natural?
Papi: Pedro swears by Chunky, but this Chihuahua is 100% natural!
Be sure to check out Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva La Fiesta! available NOW on Disney Blu-Ray Combo Pack and Digital Download!
***Disclosure: I was invited on an all expenses paid press trip for Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3. No other form of compensation was received, and all opinions are 100% honest and have not been influenced in any way.***