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Arizona Dogs Star In Hungarian Film 'White God'

By Sarah Ventre
Published: Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 3:52pm
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(Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)
Bodie, one of the dogs who play Hagen in "White God."
(Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)
Most of the dogs in the film were shelter dogs.
(Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)
Zsófia Psotta in "White God," a Magnolia Pictures release.
(Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)
Zsófia Psotta and Bodie as Lili and Hagen.

The Hungarian movie "White God" centers around a girl named Lili and her dog Hagen. After the city imposes a fee on mixed-breed dogs, Lili’s father sets Hagen loose on the streets — and he becomes the unlikely leader of a coup against humans.

Hagen is played by two dogs that came from a trailer park in a small border town in Arizona.

Imagine swarms of hundreds of angry dogs tearing through desolate streets — rioting, looting, ripping into purses as if they’re on a mission.

That’s what you see in "White God." And leading the pack is Hagen, a muscular mahogany dog who is part Lab, part SharPei with intense, almost sad-looking eyes. Hagen is played by Arizona dogs Luke and Bodie. They now live in Acton, Calif. with their owner and trainer, Teresa Ann Miller.

"At the time the director was casting, he was looking for a dog that would stand and that’s what Luke and Bodie are," Miller said. "They’re just that one-in-a-million face. But better than that, they’re two in a million because they have a photo double."

But Miller has another unique challenge: getting a dog to act.

"It’s not that Hagen has a lot of tricks that he does, but you can really appreciate and see the acting he portrays," she said. "To have a dog who can’t talk his lines, who can’t speak his part, convey the emotion of the particular scene and what the dog’s going through at the time."

What’s even more amazing is that it’s not just Hagen on screen, but there are hundreds of other dogs following him in droves and none of them are computer generated.

"That’s 250 dogs running together through the streets of Budapest," Miller said.

Miller said that most of these new canine actors were shelter dogs and that after filming nearly all of them were adopted.

"White God" begins showing tomorrow at FilmBar in Phoenix.

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