Four years after Anna, Luc Besson is back behind the camera with DogMan, a thriller starring the revelation Caleb Landry Jones, winner of the 2021 Cannes Best Actor Award for Nitram. The latter portrays Douglas, a child who is torn apart by life. The latter will find his salvation thanks to the love that dogs have for him.
After several years of legal setbacks over rape allegations that led to the case being dismissed, Luc Besson is back at work developing the script for DogMan. The idea of the film came to the artist when he read an article about a family putting their 5-year-old son in a cage. The director of Le Grand Bleu wondered how a person could go through such an ordeal, overcome this psychological and emotional trauma.
“That’s what I wanted to explore in DogMan. We all share suffering, and the only weapon to fight it is love and sharing. Human community brings little comfort, but love can heal wounds.”
The making of the film followed the progress of the main character. This allowed Caleb Landry Jones to prepare as well as possible: “In some films it’s a constant roller coaster. But Luke planned the shoot very cleverly, which allowed me to be on my toes from start to finish.”explains the 33-year-old actor.
After the first two weeks, the American actress was able to concentrate as much as possible on the Evelyn (Jojo T. Gibbs) scenes, which she dreaded the most. He returned to the hotel, prepared for scenes and worked with another actor, Tonio, for 4-5 hours.
“It was only thanks to this preparatory work that I was able to remember everything.” The actress spent a year with Luc Besson, “Making sure we’re comfortable with each other and appreciate each other on a human level”specified by the director.
According to Luc Besson, Dogman owes a lot to Caleb Landry Jones. “We needed an actor who could embody the desire, the strength, the sadness, the trials of this complex and fascinating character. I hope the audience understands what Douglas has gone through and this pain that’s hard to overcome. He’s been through more. Most people, but he keeps his dignity intact.” .
How to work with dogs?
On the advice of Louis Leterrier (Fast X), Luc Besson collaborated with animal trainer Mathilde de Canis. He notably worked on Back to the Future 2 and 3, For Worse and Better and Marley & Me. Despite his experience, the trainer felt some trepidation about the magnitude of the task.
“I knew there would be a group of dogs in the movie, but not that there would be so many, with so many different personalities.”. Matilda de Kahn preferred dogs that already had a solid training base and did not require intensive training.
Matilda de Cany in particular introduced two or three dogs that she kept in her company: “Luc Besson immediately liked them and hired them straight away. Then we had many others who didn’t have to travel. So I went to France to find trainers and dogs that met my criteria.”
The trainer then contacted Muriel Beck, manager of Animal Contact, a company that supplies animals for French television and film. “The facility had everything we needed for training, so I asked Muriel to take care of most of the dogs and set up the training team.”
In total, about fifteen trainers were hired to find the many dogs needed for filming. “The hardest part was coordinating everything at once – the dogs, the trainers, the set, the actors – and getting up and running as quickly as possible. The dogs had to be trained and know what was expected of them. It remains natural.”Matilda de Kahn explains.
Sofiane Tarefetti, a specialist in “bite training,” a technique that allows a dog to learn to control jaw strength, and stuntman Alain Filartz also participated in DogMan. The latter in particular was there to bite the actors instead. In the end, Caleb Landry Jones spent three days with the dogs and trainers to get to know the animals.
“Caleb came for three days to spend time with the dogs and get used to the trainers working, talking, moving. He was curious and very eager to engage.”The trainer confides. “By the way, the fact that we were shooting with real dogs convinced me”– says the young actor.
On the set, Sofiane Tarefetti was very surprised by Caleb Landry Jones’ accessibility and his relationship with the dogs. “He was incredibly calm and spontaneously went to the dogs. An investment that was all the more noticeable because certain sequences were particularly difficult to film.”The stuntman points out.
DogMan hits theaters on September 27.
Rose James is a Gossipify movie and series reviewer known for her in-depth analysis and unique perspective on the latest releases. With a background in film studies, she provides engaging and informative reviews, and keeps readers up to date with industry trends and emerging talents.