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  • Writer's pictureJen Gagne

Best Job Ever = Instant Family.

Over a three month span, I had the privilege of working on set as the Dog Wrangler and Trainer for the family dog, Meatball, in the movie, Instant Family. Yes, Marky Mark is as cool in person as you would think. Our relationship mainly consisted of handing him hotdogs and cheese (Mark preferred a medley of both) and giving him some tips on how to get the action we needed from Keeper/Meatball. He was always professional but kind and had a sense of humor. He thought it was funny to give his treat stash to Keeper for no reason and I would have to reload him, of course Keeper didn't mind! But I appreciated his generosity with his acting, always ready to ad lib or was conscious of me and what we were trying to accomplish. Some actors make it tough to get the animal acclimated to them. They have their own lines to worry about and feel the dog should be a robot and perform perfectly. I didn't get that from him, although Keeper was pretty perfect! Mark's wife in the movie, played by Rose Byrne, was the most genuine and sweet person. She made me feel like her friend, asking about Haley and hugging me when she saw me. I love her so much and think she should be in every movie ever made because she is that terrific! My favorite moment with Rose was during the toilet scene. The script calls for the kids to come in and then Keeper to follow, so they tried to hide me on the floor behind a bath tub, meanwhile Rose is on the toilet. The next thing I know the toilet comes unattached from the wall and Rose and I are face to face on the ground. It was hilarious, and the scene was cut into a brief clip, but turned out well. There was something really special about this project that made it different from any other. Sean Anders, the Director, wrote this movie after he and his wife adopted three children, so, there was a lot of heart involved from beginning to end. But the energy everyday was fun and exciting. Keeper, the Bernese Mountain Dog, was referred to as 'the one take wonder' and was a joy to teach new things. He loved being on set. This was his first acting job and you would never know it. The kids in the movie are all so talented. Isabela Moner, the teenager in the movie, found out during filming that she landed the iconic role as Dora the Explorer! She also wrote I'll Stay and performs it on the Instant Family sound track. I would tell her she made acting look so easy. She's just a natural. Gustavo Quiroz and Julianna Gamiz play the two younger children. Gustavo is the most polite kid and would tell me Keeper was a good actor and I would say " Thank you, we think you're a good actor, too!" Julianna, as adorable and spunky as she looks, was a little apprehensive of Keeper at first. I mean, his head is bigger than her, so, understandable! Although, her doll in the movie, named Potato Chip, scared the hell out of Keeper. I had to take it aside and show him it wasn't a possessed demon like it appeared.. lol Soon Julianna and Keeper were fast friends. She made me tear up in the scene when she said "Bye, Meatball". She added that line herself and it was brilliant.

Lastly, the Director, Sean, was a joy to work for and made me feel like part of the team. He loved Keeper and has thought of getting one of his puppies. I think that would be awesome :)

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