Dad of Divas' Reviews: Santa Paws Offer & Filmmakers' Interview

Monday, November 22, 2010

Santa Paws Offer & Filmmakers' Interview

In anticipation of tomorrow's release of THE SEARCH FOR SANTA PAWS on Blu-ray & DVD, we present you with a special Q&A interview with director Robert Vince and producer Anna McRoberts, and a money-saving Disney Movie Rewards discount!

Do the filmmakers have dogs, themselves? What do the holidays mean to their families? Find out the answers to these questions and more below.

Also, in the spirit of giving, Disney Movie Rewards is offering $10 off The Search for Santa Paws Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack !

Q - What are your most memorable Christmas moments? You must have had
those moments, because this music is touched with a bit of magic!

A - Robert Vince: My most memorable Christmas moments are with my family in Malibu,
CA with my kids. My favorite childhood memories are with my five brothers and sisters
in Vancouver when we used to build snowmen in our back yard. Yes, the music in the
movie is very emotional and was created by Brahm Wenger who is a composer we
have worked with since the original Air Bud movie.

Q - Why do you think talking puppies are so popular?

A - Anna McRoberts: I think talking puppies are so popular because we've always lived
in a world in which we can only imagine what our pets/dogs are thinking. With talking
puppies, we've opened up a whole new level of magic and imagination.

Q - Another major difference compared to prior films was the use of notable
Disney talent with Mitchell Muso, John Ducey, Madison Pettis and even a song
by Debbie Ryan. Was this coincidental casting or did Disney want to use their
notable talent from the Disney Channel?

A - Robert Vince: Casting varies in each and every film and is determined on a case
by case basis. The casting choices on this film was actually made by me and Anna
McRoberts my producing and writing partner.

Q - Which was your favorite dog to work with?

A - Robert Vince: My favorite dog character is Rasta who is voiced by Chris Massey.
There is just something hilarious about a Jamaican dog with dreads.

Q - After Santa Buddies last year and now The Search for Santa Paws, can we
expect an annual holiday-themed Buddies movie?
A - Robert Vince: You never know! All I can say is that you will more than likely see a
sequel to Santa Paws (of course, we already have a story in mind).

Q - For "The Search for Santa Paws", you literally found yourselves a new star
with young actress Kaitlyn Maher. For such a young child, was she easy to work
with, especially around the dog (that plays Paws)?

A - Anna McRoberts: We first used Kaitlyn as a voice on Santa Buddies and we were
beyond impressed with her talent and presence and knew we had to put her in front
of the camera next. Kaitlyn is an amazing person, very intelligent and a consummate
professional. She was a true pleasure to work with. She is also a real dog lover and if I
may speak for her, I am sure she might pick the puppy scenes as some of her favorites.
In addition, her and Paws became very fast friends.

Q - What was the funniest blooper that happened on set with the dogs and/or

A - Robert Vince: When you work with kids and animals bloopers occur daily. In the
dancing scene "I Do Believe In Christmas," the girls were so excited they kept falling off
the beds.

Q - My kids have really loved this movie. The talking animals were a huge hit.
What did the child actors that were part of it think when they saw the final movie?

A - Anna McRoberts: The kids were overjoyed when they saw the final product. They
It's really exciting for them to see the film come to life on a whole other level from when
they were on-set filming.

Q - What I enjoyed about "The Search for Santa Paws" is that it makes a
return to the character driven storyline that the original "Air Bud" films were
known for. What drove the both of you to make that return versus continuing
another "Buddies" storyline?

A - Robert Vince: I think the "Buddies" have become such beloved characters and
storylines and everyone has become so familiar with them (including us). In The Search
For Santa Paws we had the opportunity to introduce you to all-new characters --
including much more human characters which allowed for more complexity in the story

A - Anna McRoberts: All the Buddies films were also character driven films but The
Search for Santa Paws takes characters we met in a previous film (i.e., Santa Buddies)
and explains to the audience how those characters came to be. We are continuing with
the fun and adventurous spirit of the Buddies franchise and adding some Christmas
magic to create an all new film centering on our favorite holiday of the year!

Q - Where did HuckleBuckle Toys come from? Your imagination or life
experience? I love that name! Rolls off the tongue!

A - Anna McRoberts: Thank you! When we were writing the script, we needed a name
that served several purposes. Firstly and most importantly, it needed to feel magical,
that Hucklebuckle Toys was a store where anything could happen. Secondly, it needed
to be able to be shortened and still work as a name, so that James and Kate Huckle,
who shortened the name long ago, could return to their original name Hucklebuckle
once they got in touch with the true meaning of Christmas. The magical name
Hucklebuckle serves as a marker of belief, once James and Kate “learn to believe”
in the magic of Christmas, they see the importance of changing their name back and
continuing on the Hucklebuckle legacy.

Q - Was the film Miracle on 34th Street an influence?

A - Robert Vince: Yes it was actually just as much an influence as Annie, A Wonderful
Life and a movie we did a number of years ago called Chestnut. We also looked at all
the Christmas classics. It was our goal to create a film that would become a perennial
favorite during Christmas.

Q - What does the "Christmas spirit" mean in your family?

A - Anna McRoberts: Christmas spirit in my family is synonymous with love, family
and giving. To us, Christmas is primarily about being together, sharing moments and
creating memories. I really do believe in the magic of Christmas, it's a time of year
when people open their hearts and this means the possibilities of this magic season are

Q - How did you come up with the idea of the Christmas icicle?

A - Robert Vince: Anna came up with that concept. We loved it for a number of reasons.
For example, it was the implied environmental issues and we also wanted to explain

where the magic came from and that the spirit of Christmas is stored in the icicle all year

Q - Do you have dogs of your own? What breeds?

A - Robert Vince: Yes I do! In fact I recently brought home one of the Golden Retriever
pups from a film we just finished shooting. Her name is Emily-Rosebud, she is 18 weeks
old now and the best dog ever. She is sitting at my feet as we chat.

Q - I realize there are obvious reasons for using well-known actors' voices. Do
you ever have open calls around the country for unknowns?

A - Robert Vince: Yes we do host open calls. Most of the voice talent selections are not
name driven but rather character driven.

Q - I think many of us who grew up with the original "Air Bud" films wonder if
somehow we may see the Framm family back in an Air Bud/Buddies/Paws related
film in the near future? It would be great to see a storyline with Kevin Zegers
again. Perhaps with children and possibly a passing of the torch for a new "Bud"
related film for a new generation?

A - Robert Vince: Good idea, I would love to bring Kevin back.

Q - Conventional wisdom says to not work with kids or animals, and both are in
this film. What were the challenges of this?

A - Anna McRoberts: We have no idea where that concept came from! We simply adore
working with both children and animals. Our set is always a happy joyful place which
we believe is always reflected in our finished films. Who doesn't love to go to work all
day with fluffy puppies and adorable kids. I'd say the only challenge is to not have TOO
much fun!

Q - Which was your favorite dog to work with?

A - Anna McRoberts: I loved working with all the dogs equally but if I had to choose one
it would have to be Paws - he's fluffy, soft, adorable, playful and smart all at the same

Q - Can you talk a little about the casting process for Santa and the orphans?

A - Anna McRoberts: We worked on casting this film with our amazing and talented
casting director. She was a big fan of Richard Riehle and until The Search for Santa
Paws, we had never found the perfect role for him. He's a gem of a talent and a human
being. I wish he could be in all our movies. As for the orphans, we saw a lot of girls for
these six roles and above all they had to be able to act, sing and dance! In the end, we
found six unbelievable girls whose talents were limitless.

Q - I love this concept of the Santa CAUSE. Can you tell us a little about how you
came up with that, what it's all about?

A - Robert Vince: As a parent, it was always difficult to explain the multitude of Santa
Clauses that are at every mall. We were trying to come up with a concept that would
help parents explain the numerous people dressed up in Santa outfits. And it finally
struck us -- that they could be ambassador for the real Santa Clause in the North Pole
spreading his message throughout the world.

A - Anna McRoberts: We loved being able to create a logical answer for children who
wonder how there can be so many Santa Clauses around during the holiday season.

They may not all be the REAL Santa but they all work to perpetuate the Santa CAUSE,
the spirit of kindness and giving. We believe in the Santa Cause very strongly and hope
that it is a movement that can stay alive all year round.

Q - That word, MAGIC, is such a tremendous word. You've used it frequently. Do
you believe in Christmas Magic?

A - Anna McRoberts: Absolutely, I believe very strongly in the concept of Christmas
magic and magic in general. I am also a strong proponent of the idea that "what we
believe, we can achieve" which is why I think Christmas is my favorite holiday. It's
a time of year that we are all reminded to believe in believing and that when we do,
anything can happen!

Q - Do you have an audition process for dogs, or is that handled separately by a
A - Anna McRoberts: That is all handled by our group of amazing trainers.

Q - Kids seem to stop 'believing' earlier and earlier, does that present a challenge
in developing story lines that appeal to the entire family

A - Robert Vince: Unfortunately, children are inundated with commercial messages
that can sometimes rob their sense of imagination. Movies are one of the places
children can allow their imaginations to run free. We do our best to explain some of the
logical issues like "Why are there so many Santa Clauses at every mall?' and so far
our "ambassadors for the Santa Cause spreading the message of love and kindness for
the one and only Santa Clause" idea has been very well received.

Q - Aside from your professional involvement in the movie, how did you feel the
first time you saw this movie? Are you able to remove yourself from production
and see the movie through our eyes?
A - Anna McRoberts: I was covered head to toe in goose bumps the first time I saw
the film, and was surprised that even though I knew what was coming, I still shed a
few tears!! There are so many elements that come together after we finish filming, the
music for example which is very prominent in this film and beyond beautiful, that we as
filmmakers become part of the audience just like you!

Q - What was the biggest challenge for you during the filming of "The Search for
A - Robert Vince: My biggest challenge as a Director was the musical numbers. I had
never done a musical before. I was actually very surprised at how much fun I had. And I
especially enjoyed working with the choreographer and our composer.

Q - There is a very noticeable different in quality with "The Search for Santa
Paws" versus the previous Santa Buddies film. In this film, the production looks
absolutely great. From the set design, the location shots, set design, this is
probably the most impressive film within the line "Air Bud/Buddies" films yet in
terms of production. Would you Agree? And also, just curious where was this
film shot? Especially the city scenes?

A - Anna McRoberts: Thank you! We continually strive to make our films as beautiful as
possible. We worked with an amazing design and art department team on The Search
for Santa Paws, led by the visionary production designer, Michael Bolton. They used
a lot of talent and hard work and maybe even a little Christmas magic to make this film

look so wonderful. As for where we filmed it, why at The North Pole of course!

Q - Kids seem to stop 'believing' earlier and earlier, does that present a challenge
in developing story lines that appeal to the entire family
A - Anna McRoberts: I think children are built to believe, and it is our job as filmmakers
to create worlds that enable them to carry on allowing their imaginations to thrive. I
think it's one of our greatest responsibilities as family filmmakers - children naturally
have great imaginations and we need to do everything we can to make sure they don't
stop 'believing earlier and earlier', but in fact learn to believe in magic and possibility
and imagination forever.

Q - As you have answered questions, I have noticed a fierce dedication to this
movie. Can you tell me the reason?
A - Anna McRoberts: We are dedicated to making films that exemplify values that we
believe in. I feel that The Search for Santa Paws exemplifies many of these in a very
powerful and effective way - Belief, teamwork, love, kindness, and family are all key
themes in this film and ones that in our opinion, deserve our 'fierce dedication'.

A - Robert Vince: I am pleased you have picked up on our passion for this film. As
filmmakers we feel we have created something special with timeless quality. Santa
Paws has complexity with many interwoven story lines that all have to come together
in a delicate balance. It’s a Family film so it has to work for the children and parents
equally. We hope everyone who watches this film gets into the Christmas spirit.

Q - What are your plans for your own "magical Christmas"?
A - Anna McRoberts: I plan on spending time with as many loved ones as possible.
To me, Christmas is made magical by spending time with family and friends and
remembering the most important things in this world -- sharing, kindness and love.

Q - Production-wise, obviously a much bigger difference compared to last
year's "Santa Buddies" production-wise, visual-effects wise and story. But what
was your primary goal as a director and producer for this film that would make it
very different from any of the previous "Air Bud" and "Buddies" films in terms of
story and production?
A - Robert Vince: As filmmakers we are constantly learning and developing our skills.
I think The Search for Santa Paws is our best work to date. Our goal was to create
a perennial Christmas classic with timeless values. We wanted to create a family film
experience that parents would enjoy with their children. Santa Paws is different than the
Buddies films and we wanted it to be. We experimented with the musical element and
it’s been very well received by audiences thus far.

Q - Can you imagine a world without Santa Clause?
A - Anna McRoberts: No! I cannot imagine a world without Santa Clause which is why
we must all continue to believe - the magic of Christmas comes from believing so we all
need to believe to keep The North Pole running!!

Q - Any final thoughts on The Search For Santa Paws?
A - Anna McRoberts: We are very excited about this film and hope it will bring joy to
many families this holiday season and become a holiday classic in their homes for years
to come. Thank you for the great questions today!

A - Robert Vince: Thank you all for your time today, it was great to be able to provide
you with further insight on the making of this film. I am off to take Emily-Rosebud for her

All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Terms of Use  for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

New to the Divadom?
Please Subscribe to my RSS Feed! Subscribe in a reader
Questions?Drop me a line at

No comments: