Introduction: The Making of "A Dog’s Purpose"
"A Dog’s Purpose" is a 2017 American comedy-drama film directed by Lasse Hallström and written by W. Bruce Cameron, Cathryn Michon, Audrey Wells, Maya Forbes, and Wally Wolodarsky. The movie was based on the novel of the same name by W. Bruce Cameron and follows the journey of a dog’s soul as it is reincarnated and experiences different lives with different owners. The film was produced by Gavin Polone and distributed by Universal Pictures.
The Role of Canines in the Film Industry
Animals have been used in the film industry for decades, with dogs being one of the most popular choices. Dogs are often cast in roles that require them to perform specific actions, such as tracking scents, attacking intruders, or simply being a loyal companion to the main character. Trained animal actors are in high demand in Hollywood, and they are often well-compensated for their work.
The Use of Animal Actors in "A Dog’s Purpose"
The filmmakers of "A Dog’s Purpose" used both real dogs and computer-generated imagery (CGI) to create the movie’s canine characters. According to reports, the production used several different dogs to portray the film’s main dog, Bailey, at different stages of his life. The dogs were trained by a professional animal trainer to perform the required actions on set, such as barking, jumping, and running. The CGI was used to enhance the dogs’ expressions and to create certain scenes that would have been difficult or dangerous to film with real animals.
The Ethics of Using Animals in Film Production
The use of animals in the film industry has long been a controversial topic, with animal welfare advocates arguing that the practice is inherently cruel and exploitative. Critics of animal actors point to instances of mistreatment and abuse on set, as well as the stress and trauma that animals may experience from being transported, trained, and forced to perform. Supporters of animal actors argue that well-trained animals are treated with care and respect on set, and that their work provides valuable entertainment and education to audiences.
The American Humane Association’s Oversight
To address concerns about animal welfare in the film industry, the American Humane Association (AHA) was established in 1940 to oversee the use of animals in film, television, and advertising. The AHA has developed guidelines for animal actors and works with productions to ensure that animals are treated humanely on set. The AHA also monitors animal actors during filming and conducts audits of production facilities to ensure that they meet the organization’s standards.
The Controversy Surrounding "A Dog’s Purpose"
"A Dog’s Purpose" was embroiled in controversy when a leaked video showed a dog being forced into a turbulent pool of water during filming. The video sparked outrage among animal welfare advocates and led to calls for a boycott of the film. The filmmakers and actors involved in the production denied any mistreatment of animals and expressed their commitment to animal welfare.
The Allegations of Animal Abuse on Set
Following the release of the video, the AHA launched an investigation into the treatment of animals on the "A Dog’s Purpose" set. The investigation found no evidence of animal abuse, but did uncover several violations of the AHA’s guidelines, including the use of an unapproved training method during the pool scene. The AHA suspended its "No Animals Were Harmed" certification for the film.
The Investigation and Findings of the AHA
The AHA’s investigation into the "A Dog’s Purpose" set revealed that the dog was hesitant to perform the water scene and that the filmmakers should have stopped filming. The investigation also found that the dog was not in danger during the scene and that the animal trainer had followed approved training methods. The AHA recommended changes to the production’s animal welfare policies and training protocols.
The Response from the Filmmakers and Actors
The filmmakers and actors involved in "A Dog’s Purpose" expressed their regret over the incident and their commitment to ensuring the safety and welfare of animal actors on set. The production company donated to animal welfare organizations and implemented additional training and safety protocols for animal actors. The film’s star, Dennis Quaid, spoke out in support of animal welfare and urged the public to adopt rescue animals.
The Impact on the Film’s Box Office Success
The controversy surrounding "A Dog’s Purpose" had a negative impact on the film’s box office success, with some theaters refusing to screen the movie and others experiencing low attendance. Despite this, the film still managed to gross over $200 million worldwide, demonstrating the continued popularity of animal-centric movies with audiences.
The Future of Animal Welfare in the Film Industry
The controversy surrounding "A Dog’s Purpose" has sparked a renewed focus on animal welfare in the film industry, with calls for stricter regulations and increased transparency. The AHA has revised its guidelines for animal actors and is advocating for stronger laws to protect animals on set. Filmmakers and actors are also increasingly aware of the importance of animal welfare and are taking steps to ensure that animal actors are treated with care and respect.
Conclusion: Balancing Entertainment and Ethics in Hollywood
The use of animal actors in the film industry is a complex issue that requires careful consideration of both entertainment and ethical concerns. While animal welfare advocates argue that the practice is inherently cruel and exploitative, supporters of animal actors point to the benefits that well-trained animals bring to the film industry. As the controversy surrounding "A Dog’s Purpose" has shown, there is a need for greater transparency and regulation in the industry to ensure that animal actors are treated with the respect and care that they deserve. Ultimately, the challenge for filmmakers and audiences alike is to find a balance between entertainment and ethics in Hollywood.