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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Welcome Dean Schnider - Hachi: A Dog's Tale

If you have a dog or love a dog, you won’t want to miss Hachi: A Dog's Tale, now available on DVD. The remarkable true story about a dog named Hachiko took place in Japan in the 1920's but was updated to modern day America in this movie. Starring Richard Gere, this is a wonderful film for the family. Be sure to check out the preview at the end of the interview.

I am excited to introduce Dean Schnider, the co-producer of Hachi: A Dog's Tale. Dean is the young visionary who sought to bring the story to the screen. His ambitions as a producer started at the age of 12 when he saw JAWS and read the quote by William James, "The best use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts life.” I’m pleased that Dean was able to chat with me about his experience as a producer of this special film.

What drew you to the script of Hachi: A Dog's Tale?

I was actually drawn to the story of Hachiko before the script. I heard about the famous dog who waited for 9 years for his master at the train station and thought it was the most powerful, simple and universal story of friendship, loyalty and love, that I thought it would make a great film. I, and the other producers, found a writer to adapt the story into a script and after several dozen versions of the script; we ultimately made the film we all wanted to make.

What is a producer's creative process like?

A producer is a visionary who gets excited by a story and dedicates his life to get that story told to millions of people. That story can be traced back to a book, an original idea, a remake of an old movie, a board game, a short story, a true story or anything at all for that matter. One person told me that being a producer is like getting punched in the face every day. The reason is, producers are always in an uphill battle to identify a great story, control and protect that story, find the ideal writer to scribe the tale and director to bring it to life. On top of that, there are daily actor issues, scheduling problems, budget restraints, legal concerns, hidden agendas and investors looking for a return. With so many moving parts, there are inevitably a series of daily problems which present themselves and it is typically up to the producer to solve them. Hence, it is the "Rocky" trait of determination, the ability to take a punch, and guts that is necessary to produce.

What was the greatest challenge you faced in the creation of the movie?

Every day was a challenge for the most part but the biggest challenge was ensuring that the story you wanted to tell from the beginning gets told. Because new writers come on the scene, a director has his vision, big actors have their comments and egos, other producers may see things differently, the financier has certain needs, the budget plays a role, the locations change things, all of which have an impact on the script and ultimately the story. So, from the beginning when I pitched the story to the production companies and studios to giving notes on the various cuts of the film, it was always a challenging game of give and take to ensure that the story is told to the audience and you don't cause a mutiny in doing so. Ultimately, it is a collaborative effort and when the team has the same vision, that is always the best foundation to build upon.

Hachi has received terrific reviews worldwide. What do you think is the universal appeal of the story?

The fact that the dog Hachi, is more than a dog. Hachi is symbolic of your dog, your pet, your best friend, your sibling, your mom, your ex-wife, and your boyfriend. I actually initially pitched the movie as E.T meets EIGHT BELOW. It is a timeless story of friendship and love and loyalty that is innate in all humans. The story of waiting for one's master for so many years and ultimately having an impact on the community is so powerful yet also so simple that it resonates with the young, the old, and every race, color and creed. The themes are universal and the fact that the story itself has been so popular for over 80 years in Japan and that it is taught to students around the world shows that there is lasting power and appeal to a story that speaks to us on a human level and makes us yearn for something greater in life.

Dean, thanks so much for giving us insight into your creative process as a producer. Wishing you continued success!

Check out a preview of Hachi: A Dog's Tale

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