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HOTEL FOR DOGS

The Genius And The Gadgets
In "Hotel for Dogs,” the clever 11-year-old Bruce, ingeniously puts together gadgets he assembles from discarded items he finds in the abandoned hotel to keep the dogs happy, safe and fully entertained. "Up until this point, no one has truly understood and appreciated Bruce's talents, but in the hotel he finally gets the attention and appreciation of all these kids around him,” notes Freudenthal.

Academy Award®-nominated special effects coordinator Michael Lantieri was brought on board to build the ingenious contraptions Bruce devises to keep the dogs engaged, healthy and hopefully quiet. "The two things that attracted me to this particular project were the opportunity to build all these amazing gizmos and my personal love of dogs,” recalls Lantieri. "One of the things I look for in a project is whether or not whatever I'm building is a central part of the story and with this film that was very much the case.”

For Georgia, the Boston Terrier who loves to fetch and run, Bruce creates the ultimate fetching machine, which Georgia can operate and enjoy all by herself. The creation of this gizmo went through two model phases. The first was a simple spring-loaded device that throws a ball and spoon down hallways, while the second device was a bit more sophisticated. "This fetching machine uses a bicycle and a hand from a mannequin. It is timed so that the wheels turn, and the ball is magnetic so it sticks in the hand, which comes round and launches the object so the dog can chase it,” explains Lantieri. "Things can seem simple when you read them, but making it work on screen has to do with timing, the weight of the ball and how the ball stays in the hand until you want it to move.

In addition to making the complex inventions work, Lantieri and his team faced the additional challenge of making them look as if they sprung from the mind of a gifted 11-year-old boy. "Every gadget had to look as though Bruce was capable of putting it together and, fortunately, over the years, I've been able to assemble the best experts to match up with the intellect of a real 11-year-old,” deadpans Lantieri.

As if that weren't enough, the inventions also needed to be created from objects that might be found in an abandoned hotel. "We had many meetings over what would be left behind in a hotel – in the laundry rooms, the kitchens and in storage,” Lantieri says. "We tried to pick things that couldn't be recognized as new or store-bought but something that would be found up in the attic next to all the old Christmas decorations, hotel supplies and other equipment.”

For Shep, the Border Collie with an uncontrollable urge to herd, Bruce creates a specially designed room. The herding room is a paradise for Shep. He chases remote controlled sheep made out of fishing wire, oven mitts, cotton balls and foam mounted on top of disassembled remote controlled cars. Lantieri and his team particularly enjoyed this creation. "Initially, when I read the script, I thought the sheep would be on wires, but once we got to actually radio-control them, we raced them in the shop to test them. It became a sort of kindergarten for adults.”

"Michael Lantieri has been nominated for many Oscars®,” notes producer Gordon. "You can see him going to the ceremony in his tux and returning to his workshop where he and his team are essentially building the ultimate dream toys. It's good to know that, in the process of destroying their parents' homes for the first 18 years of their lives, he and his crew finally found a creative outlet in the movie business. They are the most brilliant kids you'll ever meet.”

For the door-knocking room, Lantieri gathered doors in specific colors and architectural styles. The knockers were driven by air, springs and elastic bands, which caused a boot to repeatedly knock on the door. "That is one of<

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