Career woman and mayoral candidate Caroline Sheppard (Amanda Langille) is determined to find her family's stolen dog, Dinah. Given a lead by an animal welfare activist, Caroline risks her safety and reputation and alienates her family as she searches for Dinah in the underground hell of puppy breeding mills and research laboratories. But when she confronts a brutal dog-fighting ring her courage inspires her family to reunite and help her rescue their pet. 

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Interview with Rowland Jefferies

Published on August 17, 2012 by in Blog

Meet Rowland Jefferies Cutler,

production designer and art director for Saving Dinah

Saving Dinah Productions was fortunate to have the talented Toronto production designer/art director, Rowland Jefferies Cutler, generously volunteering his time and expertise on the sets of Saving Dinah.  Not only does Rowland design for film and television, he also is a sought after interior decorator for many notable and prestigious clients; his specialty is ecologically-sustainable interior design.  

Animal Alliance and Saving Dinah Productions have much to thank Rowland and his partner Zana Ancerl for having provided us with professional furniture, props and police cars hot off the sets of some of Toronto’s hottest TV shows.  Zana is a buyer with several popular TV programs shot in Toronto.  Without Rowland and Zana, the footage of Saving Dinah would not look as good as it does.  And it does look good.

Lucky for me, Rowland graciously agreed to let me interview him about his professional work as well as his love for animals.

 

Karen: Rowland, you have a relationship with Animal Alliance of Canada.  Could you tell me something about that?

Rowland: My partner Zana and I have donated and been on the Animal Alliance of Canada mailing list for years, which led to our meeting Liz and thru Liz,  Stephen Best and Barbara Kyle.

(Liz, of course, is Liz White, the executive director of Animal Alliance and the executive producer of Saving Dinah.  Stephen Best and Barbara Kyle make up the writing team behind the script, Saving Dinah, and Stephen, who is the founder of Environmental Voters and the force behind the Animal Alliance Environment Voters federal political party, also directed the production.)

Karen: What is it that you do for a living?

Rowland: I am a Toronto-based, freelance designer with a background in film production as Set Decorator, Art Director and Production Designer, and Interior Design.  Visit:  www.sustainable-living.ca

Karen: Liz mentioned that you had some connection to the film, Easy Rider, and were also in a rock band.  I’d love to hear about this.

Rowland: I managed a musical group The Holy Modal Rounders and negotiated for several of their songs to be incorporated in the film. Group affiliations The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and the Jon Lee Group.

Karen: Why did you offer to volunteer for the set design on Saving Dinah and what made you personally interested in the project of Saving Dinah?

Rowland: Both the writing and the subject offered something of quality to work with.  As Production Designer and Artistic Director, my job is to visually interpret the story and add a sense of allure, drama and glamour to the sets and character of the actors.

Karen: You have created incredible sets for Saving Dinah.  Do you have any favourites and if so, why?

Rowland: No. They all sell the story equally.

Karen: Has there been one memorable day on the Saving Dinah set that you could tell about? It could be a
great day or a tough day that stands out in your memory.

Rowland: Each day was an incredible success in visual and composition dynamics. Stephen, ( who was brilliant with the cast in pulling stellar performances from them) at the end of the day came away with great footage. Some days were more challenging because of the record breaking temperatures.

Karen: Do you live with companion dog? If so, what breed?

Rowland: This is one of the few times we haven’t had a dog. Our last dog , ‘Singi’ , was a Basenji .

Karen: Has there been an experience with a dog that has changed your life? If so, how?

Rowland: Companion animals enrich life. Their unconditional love heals.   They keep you in touch with your soul.

Karen: Did you know anything about the issues that companion animals face before Saving Dinah? If so, what? And how did you learn of them?

Rowland: Yes, for many years, through Animal Alliance and other animal cause organizations. Dinah is important because the plot sheds light on animal cruelty and the human condition and ‘arrangements’  that allow it.  A zeitgeist for issues that need to be addressed.  It has ‘cult’ potential.

Karen: How has working on the Saving Dinah project changed you?

Rowland: I’ve lost weight ! Hah !

Karen: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you? Your family? The work or hobbies you have outside of theatre? Anything?

Rowland: Thru my partner, Zana’s connections, the Dinah production was able to have expensive scenes with police uniform$, police car$, a police $tation, a complete ho$pital room, co$tumes, fabric$, pillow$ etc.,which our budget could not afford.  Zana Claus made it possible!  

Karen: Where do you go from here?  Will you be working on another set or designing a home?

Rowland: We are breaking ground on an Alternative energy  house design of mine ECOHAUS 1300 (using solar and passive solar  materials, heat storing concrete floors) and other off grid solutions.  Visit:  www.sustainable-designbuild.ca

Karen: Wow!  That’s all I can think to say!  Rowland, you can design for me any time.  Can you design around dust bunnies of dog and cat fur?  But I do want to add that Rowland is one of the most gracious and humble professionals I have met in the film industry and we could not have been more fortunate to have him and his partner Zana contributing their talents and genious to our production. When we screen Saving Dinah, you can be sure that Rowland and Zana’s stamp will be on every scene.

 

 
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On Location at the Whitby Courthouse Theatre: Day 5

Published on June 28, 2012 by in Blog

June 28, 2012

On Location at the Whitby Courthouse Theatre

It’s 12:30 p.m. and I’m here at the Whitby Courthouse Theatre.  It’s Day 5 of shooting and my first day on set.  I won’t spend a lot of time bemoaning the fact that it took me three hours to get here — all the way from the other side of Toronto.  All I will say is that my driving knee is going into spasms.  But enough of that.

We — or I should say the cast and crew — are filming Scene 39: the Whitby Mayoral All-Candidates Debate. I’m just sitting in the audience, snapping a few stills (that’s film talk for photographs) and finding out what I missed on the previous four days.

Stephen, our director, is ready to film the All Candidates Debate scene. Our set designer, Roland, has shown he’s worth every penny we pay him, or every penny we should be paying him because he’s working for our ever enduring gratitude and that’s about it.  The spitting image of Buddy Holly, Roland has, like a magician, taken the few crumbs we can afford and turned them into apple pie.

On stage, against a black backdrop, are three podiums, one for each of the three candidates.  For a later scene, he’s wrangled two white contempo chairs and an ornate white table for our Jenny Rose Talk Show Scene — and an entire police office — from the set of Flashpoint.  It turns out Flashpoint is a goldmine of props and costumes and is being filmed in Toronto.  Thank you Flashpoint! (Hope you don’t miss the police outfits.) And thank you Roland!  (Roland is a long-time Animal Alliance supporter and a vegan!  What more could you ask for?)  (More on Roland later)

As I lean back in my red velvet theatre chair, Stephen is squinting into the camera and discussing the shot with our cameraman, Reese.   It just so happens that Reese’s passion for theatre inspired the creation of the Courthouse Theatre.  Reese’s father was Mayor of Whitby — can you believe it!   Mayor Marcel Brunelle built the theatre,  a glass enclosed addition to the building, because he recognized, thanks to Reese, how vital a stage is for a community.  Today the theatre is the heart and soul of the courthouse and, I might add, of the City of Whitby as well.  And for the first time ever, the show the Courthouse Theatre is hosting isn’t a theatrical but a full-length feature film — our film, Saving Dinah.

I could go on and on, but it looks like Stephen’s getting ready to shoot the scene.  So I better sign off and sit back and enjoy the show.  “Quiet on the set.  Sound! Camera!  Action!” Take One!

 
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