Filming with wolves

The fact that our wolves were brought up by man does not mean that they accept strangers automatically. A scene with a complete stranger to the animal is always preceded by several days of conditioning, trying to make contact with the wolf and the actor.

In some cases however wolves can only work with our trainers. One such case when shooting Blood and Chocolate in Romania Zorba, the „evil” wolf had to kill a young girl. As this was a potentially dangerous action it was Dori who stood in for the “victim”: only Dori’s shoulder and foot can be seen in the picture, while opposite her on the top of a table there was the snarling animal ready to attack.

During one of the most exciting shootings the main characters were played by the wolves who received the roles according to their personality and their abilities. More wolves had to play one role because one scene may have lasted for hours and as the animals got tired we must have left rest period for the animals. We received the script before the actual production began and discussed scenes with the directors and key personnel: this way we made sure that everybody involved knows the rules and understand what can and cannot be done. We also learned the tasks that the animals had to execute and prepared a training plan.

One of the most exciting scenes was when 15 wolves had to work in one set at the same time. The animals had to charge through in a 70 m long studio that was set up as a forest from one side to the other. It was a challenge from many aspects: on one hand we had to eliminate that the animals come to blows. At the Center they live in packs with 5-7 members and when they meet it could easily turn into a fight. Another problem was posed by the cameras: one of them was running on special speed track next to the animals making an earsplitting sound, while the other one was fixed onto a crane that moved up and down. We had to make the animals get used to the strange motions and sounds. When the animals reached the other side of the studio we had to gather them in seconds before they mixed with staff members and each other. We started training with the wolves two months before the shooting in order for us and for the production not to loose any valuable production time at the actual shooting: the wolves were made to get used to their cages in fives and fours where they had to arrive at the end of the their run. This way we could avoid fights and with the exception of one or two “straywolves”, the wolves got into their cages in seconds.

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