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Downward Dog

Downward Dog

Short Film :  Comedy 12 Mins Adapted from a TV series and shown at Sundance

Written by:   Samm Hodges

Director:       Michael Killen

. . . 

Martin is now reaching his elder years and shares his home with Nan who through the years of living with another being and the chores of everyday, Martin feels he is ignored and often misunderstood. They used to have fun, and life was happier and now it seems that Nan finds it difficult to even talk to him. He feels unnoticed, he feels lonely and the only times he looks forward to is their car rides and Nan's weird seat dances to Beyonce on the journey to see his therapist Cheryl.  And then..life hits them and they find out he has cancer.

An amusing account of 7 year old Martin, the Downward Dog in the voice and thoughts of a human.

“I’m turning seven,” Martin, the protagonist of short film Downward Dog confesses. “I’m really trying not to be hung up on a number, but I’m starting to think about what my life could have been.” 

A philosophical dog, Martin muses on all sorts of topics ranging from ageing to loneliness, friendship, animal instincts, and most prominently, on his relationship with his human, Nan. 

The film's production team were keen to find the perfect pooch to play the soul-searching Martin and Director Michael Killen and Samm Hodges insisted that they search for a rescue dog who would know and understand the reality of being lonely and the feeling of being abandoned. They wanted to shout out loud about the benefits of giving a dog a life line and a chance for a loving home. 

Downward Dog hosted a nationwide search across America’s shelters and after a whirlwind hunt, they encountered Ned at a Chicago shelter, where he had been waiting for a home for over a year. Ned nailed his tryout with a longing look.

Ned_Dog Actor_Downward Dog_www.hugoandotto.com

From there, Ned’s life went through a massive overhaul. He was adopted by the show’s trainer Nicole Handley, she just fell in love with Ned and was one of the first people hired by Killen and Hodges, and started his 6 weeks of acting school.

“It’s illuminating that a dog could learn to act in 6 weeks,” Lucas Neff, who plays Jason on the show and admits to years of acting training, said.

Aside from being a very good boy, Ned was able to pick up on the skills needed to play Martin quickly because they are natural dog behaviours.

“The dog is doing real stuff — not riding a skateboard,” Hodges summarised.

The biggest challenge for Ned was embracing his newfound confidence. Stuck in a shelter for so long, the rescue was initially a little skittish about all the attention, but that melted away under Handley’s loving guidance.

“It was Ned’s eyes, we kept coming back to that dog,” Killen said.

A great story and I do hope that you enjoy it also, this was to be taken on by ABC for 8 episodes but seemingly cancelled for lack of funding.

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Downward Dog’s unlikely journey from simple web-series to prime time show has already exceeded the expectations of its creators. Both Killen and Hodges have been able to stay on as creators and in the writer’s room. Beyond that, key Animal crew-members were able to help craft the visual fx and shoot the full-series. Amazingly, Downward Dog became the first television show to ever premiere at Sundance.