MY DOG SKIP
About the Production (con't)
Re-creating small-town Mississippi as it existed over a half-century ago fell
to the director, as well as production designer David Bomba and director of
photography James Carter. While Bomba ensured the authenticity of everything
from houses to hat racks, the task of capturing these images went to Carter.
"This is not a fast-paced movie; it's a character study," says
Carter, who made his camera and lighting decisions based on the nature of the
film as well as its performers -- kids and dogs. While avoiding the surreal look
of human memory, Carter tried to give the film a slight period feel through the
use of warmer, tungsten light -- more yellow during the day, a mix of whites and
blues at night. Wide lenses were utilized to further draw the audience into the
experience, giving a broad sense of being "surrounded by the time and
As Carter affirmed, however, "My Dog Skip" finds its strength as a
character study and, as such, required credible clothes for its lead characters.
Costume designer Edi Giguere went to many places to find what she needed: Los
Angeles and Jackson, Mississippi rental houses, vintage clothes and thrift
shops, and the closets and attics of local Canton residents.
"We decided that since these people just came out of the Depression, we
would use that era as a guidepost. Since people wore things completely out
during that time, the challenge was finding the real McCoy, instead of making
new costumes and aging them," explains Giguere. For Willie and his gang,
she enjoyed transforming them into "dirty ragamuffins" in knickers,
old t-shirts and suspenders. "It was next to impossible to find shoes from
that period but, as our research revealed, a lot of children didn't wear
shoes, even in school." With their male role models involved in the war,
the children also sported the occasional flight helmet and, for Willie, a
military jacket in which he trained Skip.
Heading up the adult cast members were veteran actors Kevin Bacon and Diane
Lane as Willie Morris's parents. As Jack Morris, a man who lives with the
tragedy of war, Bacon thrilled the filmmakers with a performance that captured
his character's physical and psychological pain. Says director Jay Russell,
"I've worked with Kevin once before and he's one of my favorite
American actors. He brings something to a film that a lot of actors don't --
he really thinks about the character. Jack is a man who sees his little boy
getting caught up in the romance of World War II and he is concerned by
Says Bacon, "Jack Morris is a fairly embittered man and incredibly
protective of his little boy. He's afraid of giving him a dog because he feels
he won't be able to handle the loss when the dog gets hit by a car or runs
away. Willie's a sensitive boy, but Jack thinks he's fragile. My father also
wouldn't let me have a dog. That's one thing I can relate to."
Diane Lane plays pragmatic Ellen Morris. "Diane brings a depth to all of
her performances," says John Lee Hancock. "When you look at her entire
career, she's played so many varied and wonderful characters. She's perfect
in the role of Ellen, who loves her husband but wants to help her son grow into
a confident young man."
Says Lane, "Ellen sees that her boy is ready for a change. She doesn't
know how to handle it and the boy's father isn't prepared to deal with it,
so a dog is the perfect answer. A boy and his dog -- it's a classic situation
because they're both completely enthusiastic about discove
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