A Stone Webster Production
This film has been on the brew for 30 years since director/producer Barry Stone made his first short film called “Dog.” The short was picked up by Canada's Cineplex Odeon to play ahead of their feature length films.
When he first set out to make “Sniff” (April 2006) Barry had the idea of using puppets to host the documentary portions of the film – to tell us about how dogs see, how acute their senses of smell and hearing are, and how they’ve evolved to serve mankind. In talking to his friend Neil Morrissey about the great dog stories Barry was collecting, Neil got all excited and offered to dress up in costume to host the film.
As our research progressed, it became clear that there were so many great stories right in California that Neil was going to have to come to us (to which Neil responded: “bummer!”). We asked him who he’d like to play his “partner”, and he immediately suggested his friend from drama school, Richard Huw.
As the idea for the back story of the characters started to gel, Barry called up Amanda Plummer who he had worked with on a Toronto film “Triggermen” (2002), also starring Neil Morrissey. Amanda was delighted to reunite with Barry and Neil and to participate as the charming Juliette, owner of our fictitious dog hotel “The Infinite Paws” where Neil and Richard do their day-job. Maurice Godin, a friend from our days in Toronto and a fine stage and film actor now living in LA, also agreed to play Derek, Juliette’s husband. And so the zany plot was hatched and cast!
Many months and several script drafts later, the foursome converged in Oakland. By this time, Barry and his wife Kim had filmed all of the documentary segments and had edited them in sequence so that Neil and Richard could be seen on screen with the footage as the serendipitous “makers” of Sniff. Through their eyes, we see a mixture of fun and bizarre dog stories (surfing, bird-herding, bubble-blowing) as well as more informative segments about the training of two working dogs.
The development of the documentary parts of the movie was nothing short of a gift from the universe. As we’d hear about one dog story, another would emerge. Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California were immensely helpful and gave us free reign to follow the training of one of their star Guide Dogs, Mikey. Through them, we found out about Gabby, a Guide Dog puppy who wasn’t quite suitable to train as a guide, so she had a career change to become a Search and Rescue dog.
In gratitude for the all the magic and the help that we’ve received, Scrap and Taffy Productions plans to donate 10% of proceeds from DVD sales on our website to charitable canine organizations like Guide Dogs for the Blind, the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation and the American Humane.
Next: Diary of a Film-Maker's Wife…
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