GREAT FALLS — "The Year of the Dog" is a new indie film from co-directors Andy McGinn, Michael Peterson, and Rob Grabow, who also co-stars in the film.
Grabow has had family living in Livingston, Montana since the 1880’s. His ties to the area helped inspire him to shoot this recent project in Montana with a crew made up mostly of Native Montanans.
“It's a Montana story, but it also has kind of universal themes to it about connection and overcoming adversity and addiction. And we wanted to give voice to all of that. We had a really good team around us, and it was almost exclusively a Montana cast and crew,” says Grabow.
The film premiered nationally on February 24th at theaters in 26 states. Showings of ‘The Year of the Dog’ can be seen locally in Anaconda, Conrad, Choteau, Missoula, and Polson.
The movie centers on a character named Matt, an alcoholic attempting to string together 30 days of sobriety so he may fulfill his dying mother’s’ wish; to see Matt sober. While on a retreat on his friend’s property outside a small Montana town, Matt encounters a stray Siberian Husky named Yup’ik. Both man and dog endear themselves to one another, saving each other in the process.
Michael Spears and Jon Proudstar of “Reservoir Dogs” fame act in supporting roles within the project.
Yup’ik, the Siberian Husky, is named Caleb in real life. He’s a rescue dog, discovered by Jon Van Dyke, an acclaimed animal trainer specializing in facilitating animals for the screen.
“It's about getting the dog to interact and be confident and comfortable on set. And Caleb was super confident. Huskies have that outgoing personality. A lot of what you see in the movie is just Rob and Caleb playing off of each other,” says Van Dyke. “They're the most hardheaded dog that I've ever worked in, decades and decades. But for whatever reason, I really like that. I like that brand because I think it makes them really good actors.”
Staying true to the rescue theme, five percent of the film’s profit will go to support animal shelters across the country.
We thought it was really important that we donate a percentage of proceeds to other rescues to bring awareness about this, because he has this intrinsic value to him that people missed,” says Grabow. “That's kind of the theme of the story is we all have something really special about us that gets missed.”
Since test-screens and the public premiere of the film have dropped, Rob says he and the crew have received an outpouring of support.
“You make a film and you hope that people see it. And the key in this case is people coming up afterward who have struggled with addiction or struggled to find sobriety. Coming up and sharing that this film felt real to them, like they felt seen in the film,” he says.
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