A Dog's Purpose, A Couple's Mission: Cathryn Michon & W. Bruce Cameron of Surprise Hit Films, Los Angeles, Part 1
Hit movies, TV series and bestselling novels: meet Hollywood creative power couple, Cathryn Michon and W. Bruce Cameron. They’re best known as screenwriters for the Dog’s Purpose film franchise. The first film, A Dog’s Purpose, starring Josh Gad, Dennis Quaid and Peggy Lipton, broke $200 million at the box office on a reported budget of $22 million. Cathryn is a writer/actor/director, known for her independent comedy films, Muffin Top and Cook Off, and the Grrrl Genius books. Bruce’s bestseller, 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter, became an ABC sitcom. At this writing, Bruce is touring to promote the third in the Dog’s Purpose novel series, A Dog’s Promise. All these separate projects. Isn’t this supposed to be about couples working together? Yes it is. And these two are dynamic business and creative partners. Everything that goes out the door, they've both worked on it. She edits his books. He works on her movies. They’re funny, and share a potent creative and business dynamic. They also have a useful decision making structure that every CoupleCo should consider. And, that they’re both dog people is important. Without dogs, and without Bruce spontaneously telling Cathryn a story that eventually became a New York Times bestseller, we might not be here today. (And a lot of Hollywood dogs would be out of work.)
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Honey Parker: 00:00 We're navigating the nation in search of standout couples in business together.
Blaine Parker: 00:04 Let's start over. You were a little hot.
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Honey Parker: 00:08 I'm not usually a little hot?
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Blaine Parker: 00:16 Welcome to CoupleCo: Working With Your Spouse For Fun and Profit. I'm Blaine Parker.
Honey Parker: 00:20 Which makes me Honey Parker.
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Honey Parker: 00:26 We are navigating the nation in search of standout couples in business together.
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Honey Parker: 01:16 And, for more about CouplecCo, we, Mr. Parker and I, are online at coupleco.com.
Blaine Parker: 01:22 Spelled like it sounds, coupleco.com.
Honey Parker: 01:25 This-
Blaine Parker: 01:25 Now, hold on. I want to clear something up here because you've done this again. You called me Mr. Parker.
Honey Parker: 01:30 I like calling you Mr. Parker.
Blaine Parker: 01:32 Well, I want people to know that that is something of your own volition. I have not told you, you must call me Mr. Parker.
Honey Parker: 01:38 No, you have not. For anybody wondering, he has not told me to do that.
Blaine Parker: 01:42 No, it's not some weird slave-master relationship.
Honey Parker: 01:44 I just think it makes him sound important.
Blaine Parker: 01:47 Because I'm not.
Honey Parker: 01:49 You should at least sound important. So, this is episode 92, which means we're knocking on the door of episode 100. And, we are in Los Angeles, where we're talking Tinseltown.
Blaine Parker: 02:01 Oh yeah. We are taking you through the gates into the land not only of hit movie making, but of TV series, and even best selling novels.
Honey Parker: 02:10 This is a genuine Hollywood creative power couple.
Blaine Parker: 02:12 Oh yeah. Cathryn Michon and W. Bruce Cameron have dozens of credits to their names, both separately and together.
Honey Parker: 02:19 They're probably best known for collaborating on the screenplays for the "Dog's Purpose" film franchise.
Blaine Parker: 02:24 The first installment, "A Dog's Purpose", starring Josh Gad, Dennis Quaid, and Peggy Lipton, had a purported budget of $22 million.
Honey Parker: 02:32 It also broke the $200 million barrier at the Box Office.
Blaine Parker: 02:36 And that is huge. Cathryn is also known as an actor and director for her independent comedy films "Muffin Top" and "Cook Off!", and for her best selling "Girl Genius" books.
Honey Parker: 02:47 You'd know Bruce for an ABC sitcom based on his best-selling book, "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter."
Blaine Parker: 02:53 And, as we are releasing this show, Bruce is on a national book tour to promote the third novel in the Dog's Purpose series, "A Dog's Promise."
Honey Parker: 03:02 So, all of these separate projects, what's the point? Is this a CoupleCo working together?
Blaine Parker: 03:08 Yep. And, while you might see just one name on the book or the screenplay, they both had a hand in it.
Honey Parker: 03:14 Yeah. Nothing goes out the door that they haven't both touched. She edits his books, he works on her movies. They are funny separately, funny together, and share a potent creative and business dynamic.
Blaine Parker: 03:26 They also have an interesting and useful decision-making structure that every CoupleCo ought to consider. And, that they're both dog people is actually important. Without dogs, and without Bruce spontaneously telling Cathryn a story that eventually became a New York Times Best Seller, we might not be here today.
Honey Parker: 03:45 And a lot of dogs would be out of work.
Blaine Parker: 03:47 There's a lot of working dogs in Hollywood because of these two. Now, you might here some dogs in this recording along with people in the background and even some small planes. We recorded this in their Marina del Ray home with the sliding doors open to the beach. And, you will hear all kinds of authentic SoCal ambience. So here now, part one of Cathryn Michon and W. Bruce Cameron of Surprise Hit Films, recorded in Marina del Rey, California.
This is a thrill. We are in Marina del Rey. We have been allowed inside the home of W. Bruce Cameron and Cathryn Michon, who are the creators of among other things, and there [crosstalk 00:04:27] is a lot to talk about.
Honey Parker: 04:29 Among many other things. Many, many, many other things.
Blaine Parker: 04:30 The "Dog's Purpose" franchise, the films, the books, the kids' books, the thing is a juggernaut. It's amazing. We've been watching the movies...
Cathryn: 04:37 It's really... We like to think of it as a Bruciverse, really.
Honey Parker: 04:37 A Bruciverse?
Blaine Parker: 04:43 Their company is Surprise Hit films, and wow, thanks for doing this.
Cathryn: 04:48 Well it's fun. Thank you.
Honey Parker: 04:49 Thank you for having us.
Bruce: 04:51 I was going to be sitting in my living room anyway, so...
Blaine Parker: 04:55 Right on. [crosstalk 00:04:56]
Cathryn: 04:56 Impossibly convenient.
Honey Parker: 04:56 The strange thing is I was going to be sitting in your living room, [crosstalk 00:04:59] it just all kind of worked out.
Bruce: 05:01 But the opportunity to talk about myself, that's... I love to do that all day long. You can come back tomorrow.
Blaine Parker: 05:07 There's something that I like to call the single most important question in this interview. And, without this answer we would not have anything that follows. The great thing about the answer to this question is it is, uniquely a show business answer. How did you two meet?
Cathryn: 05:24 Well, we have the requisite cute meet you would hope from people who make lighthearted family films. We were both on book tour. I was on book tour for a book I wrote called "The Girl Genius Guide to Life" which is sort of a proto-feminist funny memoir and-
Blaine Parker: 05:43 And it is funny, I might add.
Cathryn: 05:45 Oh. Thank you.
Blaine Parker: 05:46 Yes.
Cathryn: 05:46 I'm proud of that book. And, Bruce was on tour for "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter." And, we were both booked on a PBS talk show in Seattle, and it was kind of running behind schedule. When you do a book tour you-
Bruce: 06:03 Kind of? It was three hours behind schedule.[crosstalk 00:06:06]
Cathryn: 06:05 They were three hours, yeah. And, basically they had escorted us separately up into a green room. They didn't lock us in but it felt...
Honey Parker: 06:16 Prisony?
Bruce: 06:16 It was... It had a real Twilight Zone feel to it because the filming was being done on the first floor. That was all lit up. Bright lights. And then, the building itself was completely dark, except for 10 stories up there was this one little light bulb, and that was the room we were in[crosstalk 00:06:29]
Cathryn: 06:28 In a room with a bare bulb but... And kind of... Not like a regular talk show green room where there'd be... Say, some craft service.
Blaine Parker: 06:38 No craft service?
Cathryn: 06:39 No. There was [inaudible 00:06:40] one cream cheese, and crusted half bagel left on a tray.
Bruce: 06:47 Yes. And we fought over that. She bit me. No. And you'd open the door and you'd look down the hallway, it was completely dark. You're just like, "I don't... I'm afraid to leave." But I was at this point just... I had... Catherine had been on sitcoms and I'd been doing stuff for years. This was my first foray out into the public. My parents kept me locked up [crosstalk 00:07:10]
Honey Parker: 07:09 He finally took the lid off the box.
Cathryn: 07:13 He was a bubble boy. Let's just tell them. He was a bubble boy.
Bruce: 07:15 And so, I was too meek to ask for anything other than this completely shingled bagel. And then, Cathryn bursts in the room and they say, "Well, your segment's three hours behind." And she says, "Three hours?" And she says, "Well, you'll have to feed us." She says, "I'll have chicken in rice. Would that be okay with you?" And she's asking me. And I said, "Oh, that sounds great compared to this bagel."
Blaine Parker: 07:37 Well, now we know who takes [crosstalk 00:07:39]
Bruce: 07:39 And so, she kind of goes like, "Hop! Hop! Get us food." Then these people were... they scurry out of there. [inaudible 00:07:44] frantic like, "Go get her..." And about a half hour later, a full UNICEF shipment of rice with about 37 chicken breasts rolls in the door, it been a full salad bar. It was like somebody had brought over the Sizzler, and set it up in this room. So, we had an opportunity to sit-
Cathryn: 08:03 So, we had three hours and I got locked in a room, not locked again. But I don't want to have any lawsuits come out of this. I wasn't locked in the room. But we were in a room together for three hours, sort of on a forced dinner date. And, I always say God loves me so much. I had previously had bad taste in men. I was divorced and I said, God loves me so much. He locked me in a room for three hours with a nice man. Until I finally was like, "Oh, huh, nice. That's a choice."
Honey Parker: 08:34 Do you remember what you talked about?
Bruce: 08:36 Mostly how much rice there was. I remember that being a real topic [crosstalk 00:08:41]
Cathryn: 08:41 No, just all kinds of things. Certainly our books and other things. And, I do remember though that at first he did not really understand that I was another guest on the show. He thought I worked on the show. He thought I was like an assistant.
Honey Parker: 08:51 Craft Service.
Bruce: 08:53 There, yeah.
Cathryn: 08:53 Not doing a good job. And at some point he said, "So, how long have you worked on the show? How do you like it?" or whatever. And I said, "Oh I'm a guest on the show. And I wrote this nationally and best selling book." And he's like, "Oh my God." He said, "Well, I guess then I should stop patronizing you." And honestly, I've spent my whole career in Hollywood being patronized pretty much every day, and no one's ever copped to it. And I was like, "Wow that's the most attractive thing anyone's ever said to me." Is to acknowledge that they weren't there just like, "Oh, I thought you were just a dumb blonde." which everyone thinks.
Blaine Parker: 09:29 But I go to imagine at the core, we had here, Michigan meets Minnesota? is that-
Cathryn: 09:34 Yeah, we're both dorks from the Midwest. That's fair enough.
Blaine Parker: 09:38 So, despite whatever the veneer was, that Hollywood had applied and Bruce you were a columnist at that point promoting your book.[crosstalk 00:09:44]
Cathryn: 09:44 Yeah, in Colorado.
Blaine Parker: 09:44 Yeah. And right on rocky mountains.
Cathryn: 09:48 But you're from the Midwest? I'm from the Midwest. We're dorks, from the Midwest. We're not cool.
Bruce: 09:52 Okay.
Blaine Parker: 09:52 So this is how you meet?
Cathryn: 09:55 Yeah.
Honey Parker: 09:56 Did one of you say we should continue this after we get released from the[crosstalk 00:09:59]
Cathryn: 09:59 Well, no. The fate really did that. He was living in Colorado and then his book, "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" became a pilot with John Ritter, and then became a hit series and won the people's choice award and all that stuff. So, he moved to LA because he had... He did the thing that no one ever does, which is to is have their first television project, not only go to pilot, but then go to series, and then become a big hit.
Blaine Parker: 10:27 For people who don't know Hollywood, that's huge.
Cathryn: 10:31 It's so huge. I'm not even considered a giant failure in this town. I've sold nine network pilots and none of them have gotten a series. And, that's kind of average.
Blaine Parker: 10:41 Well your... By the way your sitcom writing pedigree is phenomenal.
Cathryn: 10:45 Well, I've been lucky to work on some great shows, and then we've gotten to make movies and all that stuff. So like I said, I'm not considered a failure, but you would think at nine busted pilots I'd be the loser of Hollywood. But I don't even-
Blaine Parker: 10:58 No. That is failing your way to success. That's phenomenal.
Cathryn: 11:02 Harvey Weinstein would be the loser of Hollywood, but he eclipses me in that.
Blaine Parker: 11:10 I know there's somewhere in here... And I'm not sure I'm clear on the chronology, but there is a story about a dog that plays a pivotal role in this relationship.
Bruce: 11:19 That sounds like it's my cue...
Blaine Parker: 11:22 Had you guys been dating when this happened? Or-
Cathryn: 11:25 We were dating by the time this[crosstalk 00:11:26] what you're talking about happened.
Bruce: 11:26 It was a rocky start because Cathryn... She saw me as this guy... I described where I was living, which was in a condo in a small town called Dillon, Colorado.
Cathryn: 11:37 I know it.
Bruce: 11:38 Which she then translated in her mind to meaning that I lived like Jed Clampett before he hit the oil. I was living in a cabin-
Cathryn: 11:45 I thought it was more like the Unabomber. I thought it seemed like [inaudible 00:11:47]
Bruce: 11:48 And she had me pegged as a Unabomber type and...
Blaine Parker: 11:49 You got a hoodie?
Bruce: 11:50 She told me I had to move to Los Angeles to work on the show. And I hadn't thought I was going to be able to commute from Dillon[crosstalk 00:11:58]
Blaine Parker: 11:50 From Dillon?
Bruce: 11:58 Kind of, yeah. Like I do everything in my life. And so, what I heard from her is that it absolutely won't work. And so I took a look at it and said, "You should know she's right. I've got to move to LA." And then I wrote her and said, "Good news, I'm moving to LA." And she's like, "Oh good." And I wrote, "And, you're the only friend I have in LA." And, long silence and she says "Okay." And I wrote, "So maybe we can get together or something could you help me?" And she's like, "Ah. This guy is coming from..." She said, "You're the man from Bugger Hall... is coming to..."
Blaine Parker: 12:31 It was a rocky start, wasn't it?
Bruce: 12:32 Yeah. I said, "Well, when I get there-"
Cathryn: 12:35 Highly exaggerated in your telling but okay.
Bruce: 12:36 And I said, "When I get there I'd like to call you occasionally." She wrote "Knock yourself out." Which I thought it's okay.
Cathryn: 12:41 That I did say. I did say that.
Bruce: 12:42 I'm really starting well behind on this thing.
Cathryn: 12:46 Yeah. But fast forward to we are dating at this point.
Bruce: 12:50 Yeah, at this point, right. Where I'm telling [crosstalk 00:12:53]
Cathryn: 12:53 And, I had told him... because I never had a dog as a child, I'd only had one as an adult. And, her name was Ellie and she died unexpectedly and young of stomach torsion disease.
Bruce: 13:05 Oh, yeah. That happened.
Cathryn: 13:06 And, it's really sad.
Bruce: 13:07 Yeah it is.
Cathryn: 13:09 And, I said I could never have a dog again. I will never have a dog again. It was too hard and...
Bruce: 13:14 But she tells me this whilst I'm trapped in an automobile with her going-
Cathryn: 13:19 We're always trapped somewhere, aren't we?
Bruce: 13:20 Yeah. No rice this time. And we were driving up to the coast. We were going to go visit her parents.
Cathryn: 13:26 Well, meet my parents.
Bruce: 13:27 Go meet her parents. Yeah. And, I had started getting kind of serious about her at this point because I hadn't yet met parents.
Blaine Parker: 13:36 And did you notice?
Cathryn: 13:36 I did notice. Again, he hadn't met my family [crosstalk 00:13:38]so that would have been an escape cause but...
Bruce: 13:41 So, she tells me this, I'm halfway up the coast. I'm like, "Well, what am I supposed to do now?" Let her out? Because that's a deal breaker for me. I have to have a dog. So, I decided to tell her story to try to convince her that her dog, if she really looked hard enough, her dog was there for her. Her dog might even come back to her. So, I told her this story, and I walked her in a basically... As I'm telling this story, it's sort of unfolding in my mind, I'm watching it, and I'm-
Cathryn: 14:08 Bruce is a story teller. He'll tell you a story. This was a little bit unusual as I now know. Further into our relationship, this story kind of... As you've said, sort of dropped into your head fully formed.
Bruce: 14:22 Yeah. It was as if someone put a DVD in my head, and I watched the whole thing and I'm just describing each scene as I'm seeing them. And at the end she says, "Well, you have to write that as a book."
Honey Parker: 14:33 So you had never thought about this story before the moment?[crosstalk 00:14:36]
Bruce: 14:35 No, no. I was just making it up.
Honey Parker: 14:36 That's...
Bruce: 14:37 Yeah.
Honey Parker: 14:38 Wow.
Cathryn: 14:38 But we're driving up the 101. And it took you... I don't know, an hour and a half to tell the story. And at the end, I was in tears as any sentient human being is at the end of a dog's purpose. And I did say, "I think that you need to write that as a book." And then, this is pre-iPhones, but he always had a little recording stick in his bag. And I said, "I think you should record that." Because it was so perfect. And so, he told it again and recorded it. And it is very much a dog's purpose. Ethan, and the police dog, and everything, and all of it was...
Honey Parker: 15:19 I love the police dog.
Cathryn: 15:20 I know. And then that dog is named Ellie after my dog. It's-
Blaine Parker: 15:25 Well, that's right. I read that somewhere.
Cathryn: 15:27 Yeah. So... Well actually that was something that happened later. I said, "Well..." When the book was becoming fully formed, it was so amazing. And I said, "I just think this is going to be a classic book." And then the names of the characters, Ethan, and Maya, and Jacob. Those are my niece and my two nephews. We did a lot of stuff like that because we thought it was such a special book.
Blaine Parker: 15:54 So you're trapped in the car, this story falls out of your mouth as if fully formed in the head of Zeus.
Bruce: 16:02 Yeah.
Blaine Parker: 16:02 Did this solve everything? All of a sudden, bam, that you were now solidified. Was this...
Bruce: 16:09 Mean as a couple?
Blaine Parker: 16:10 Yeah.
Bruce: 16:11 No, [crosstalk 00:16:14] I don't think that closed the deal.
Cathryn: 16:15 No. Well, you like to say [crosstalk 00:16:16]
Bruce: 16:16 I think surviving the weekend with your parents was actually much [crosstalk 00:16:18] that was the hard part.
Cathryn: 16:21 You like to say I liked the story so much, I married you. I was going to marry you anyway, but...
Blaine Parker: 16:26 Okay, congratulations on surviving the parents and getting the story. I guess this is where we fast forward to how the heck did you decide to start working together because especially in this business, people often want to make sure that doesn't happen.
Bruce: 16:40 We kind of stumbled into that because, for one thing I was this boy from Booger Hollow that had loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly, and I was charged with writing a movie. The company at the time was Disney, and they commissioned me to write... Not to write the pilot but to write a feature script of "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter." And...
Blaine Parker: 17:02 Your best selling first book?[crosstalk 00:17:04]
Bruce: 17:03 Yeah.
Cathryn: 17:04 It was something that was popular at the time, the idea that you double develop and that something would be a movie sort of simultaneously it'd be on a TV show, which people are still doing Downton Abbey. But...
Bruce: 17:14 So, I had a commission to write a screenplay. I had no idea how to write a screenplay. Cathryn on the other hand, had sold an idea for a novel to a publisher, and she had never written a novel. And so, it seemed really obvious to me [crosstalk 00:17:27]
Blaine Parker: 17:27 You're a Yin-Yang here.
Bruce: 17:28 Yeah. I'll help you, you help me kind of thing. So, that was really...
Cathryn: 17:33 Not as co-screenwriters, because we...
Bruce: 17:35 No.
Cathryn: 17:36 ... Each took our own credit on each of those projects. But definitely that point he had written 10 novels, I had written many screenplays. And it's also... I think really... I don't know for other couples, I think if you come to your expertise separately, and have your own identity in whatever enterprise you're in, I think it's probably easier to collaborate, than if you are trying to figure it out together as a couple. I think that would be very difficult. I would not ever have wanted to do that.
Honey Parker: 18:05 The very first couple we interviewed, Jim and Robin Whitney, they have an ad agency. They said exactly that. They both had very strong careers before they got together. So, it's not like, "Oh, I'll bring you along or I'll teach you, and I bet you'll be great."
Cathryn: 18:22 Which is also how other people would regard you if that's how your partnership came together. It's like, "Oh well, he is the talent and she is the blonde." [crosstalk 00:18:30]
Bruce: 18:30 Right. She's [crosstalk 00:18:30]
Honey Parker: 18:31 Well, we have a friend, she co-wrote an Oscar-winning film with her then husband. And when the marriage split,[crosstalk 00:18:41] which was the night they were winning the Oscar...
Cathryn: 18:42 Oh, jeez.
Blaine Parker: 18:44 They were at the shrine accepting their Oscars, and the ink on the divorce papers were still wet from that afternoon.
Honey Parker: 18:51 And, when that happened everybody assumed, because this was a while ago, that, "Oh, he clearly carried her."
Cathryn: 18:51 Yeah.
Honey Parker: 18:59 And, he was the one. And subsequently, she's had a career.
Blaine Parker: 19:04 It was tough for her. And, what's interesting is he's evaporated. Nobody even knows where he is.
Honey Parker: 19:10 But it's unfortunate that there's still that thing. And as you have gotten into directing, I'm sure more so.
Cathryn: 19:18 Yeah. Well, being a woman film director in Hollywood is its own special kind of torture. Only because the statistics are quite clear. Only 4% of feature films are directed by women. So, it's very unusual for every department that you are leading, for them to be bossed around by a woman.
Blaine Parker: 19:42 Wait, are you saying that women make up more than 4% of the population?
Cathryn: 19:45 They do. It's amazing.
Blaine Parker: 19:46 All Right, I'm going to have to count because I don't believe it.
Honey Parker: 19:48 I'm always so excited when we get the day of the woman.
Cathryn: 19:52 Yeah, the day. We get that one day.[crosstalk 00:19:55] Like every five years we get a day or something-
Honey Parker: 19:57 I love the day.
Cathryn: 19:57 It's amazing.
Honey Parker: 19:57 I love the day.
Blaine Parker: 19:57 This might be a good... because you used the C word, collaboration. And, forgive me if... Is it okay if I read the last paragraph of your acknowledgements here Bruce?
Bruce: 20:06 Oh, sure.
Cathryn: 20:06 Oh, yeah. That's pretty sexy.
Blaine Parker: 20:09 I can see how you might say that. Well, I'm not going to say how I felt about Bruce after reading this.[inaudible 00:20:16] This is in the acknowledgements of the new book "A Dog's Promise" which by the time this hits the air, will be released. It's coming up the middle of October.
"Finally, like the grand finale of any self-respecting fireworks show, I present to you, my wife Cathryn Michon. She is my co-screenwriter, my life partner and the person to whom I hand every draft of my novel for her sharp editorial eye. She designed and has been running our marketing efforts for years. And, she's that person I can turn to when I'm feeling lost, full of self doubt, and blocked, or even when I'm effusively happy and creatively energetic. She's also a female director in Hollywood, something most executives consider very inconvenient to their narrative, which claims people only want to go to movies directed by men. As of this writing, A Dog's Dream, directed by Gail Mancuso is not yet in theaters, so we don't know if audiences will want to watch the movie, or if they will say, "Directed by a woman? No way I want to see that." Thank you Cathryn. You are a gift to me from God."
Cathryn: 21:13 That's good.
Blaine Parker: 21:14 And I'm wondering if I should've had you read it. That was... I'm feeling a little inappropriate.
Cathryn: 21:18 No, it's sweet. [crosstalk 00:21:20]It's lovely. And by the way, the movie did very well.
Blaine Parker: 21:18 Yes it did.
Cathryn: 21:24 And, it's crushing it on home video and...
Blaine Parker: 21:26 Gail Mancuso did a fantastic job despite...
Bruce: 21:30 Being a woman.
Blaine Parker: 21:31 Not being a man, yeah.
Bruce: 21:31 Yeah.
Cathryn: 21:32 Honestly, it is my favorite of the three studio films we've made, and she's a marvelous director. It was actually... She's won two Emmy's, and this was her first feature film in Hollywood, which is ridiculously, and horribly overdue. But she was amazing, and more than any other director that we've ever had, she personally is a dog person. And, I think it really just shows. She really loves dogs, and gets dogs, and... It's funny, I was watching the movie on the plane the other day and there's so many little moments in "A Dog's Journey" which... A lot of people were confused.
A Dog's Journey is the sequel to A Dog's Purpose, and then A Dog's Promise is the third book in the series. But, I was watching it on the plane without sound and they're just... She captured so many moments where the dogs are just doing what dogs do. Something so simple like head to tail sniffing each other. I just saw this one shot and I'm like, "Oh, we've never..." Every dog that ever greets any other dog does that. They do that and they circle and your leashes get tangled [inaudible 00:22:41]. That little behavior that everyone recognizes has never been in any of our movies, but because Gail is such a dog person, and there it is. And that just makes and I think it just makes it a beautiful movie.
Bruce: 22:51 The reason we call our company "Surprise Hit Films" is because in the trades, whenever a woman directs a movie and it's a hit, they say, "This was a surprise hit." It's just like, "Without failure."
Cathryn: 23:03 And it's really... Elizabeth Banks has had some surprises hits.
Bruce: 23:06 Yes. We saw that coming.
Cathryn: 23:09 It's always like that.
Blaine Parker: 23:11 So going back to the collaboration here, it sounds like based on the conversation we had earlier, the two of you are heavily involved in everything the other one writes.
Honey Parker: 23:21 Does anything go out of this place that you haven't both touched?
Cathryn: 23:24 No.
Bruce: 23:25 But we don't share credit on everything?
Cathryn: 23:27 Yeah.
Bruce: 23:29 And we have one rule that has saved us from real problems, which is... As you know when you have a partnership, and the partners completely vehemently disagree about something, your only recourse is to dissolve the partnership, because you can't outvote. We turned that formula upside down and we said okay, when we sit down or do a project whatever it is, we will decide who the owner is. Whose project is it? That person has veto power.
So in the end, creative difference, we've been talking about a scene for two days, she disagrees with me, I disagree with her, but it's her project. In the end I say, "Okay." And I just have to accept the verdict. She's the judge. No appeal. She says, "We're going to go with it the way I wrote it." And I'm like, "Okay."
Honey Parker: 24:12 How hard is that?
Cathryn: 24:13 It's not hard because...
Bruce: 24:14 No.
Cathryn: 24:15 Generally in our careers as filmmakers, especially if it's from his book, obviously it's his project. We've done two films that were from books that I did and those were my projects. It's pretty easy to see who should be the final deciding vote.
Bruce: 24:31 Yeah. I don't know how other people do it. If they flip a coin or whatever because you are going to have these really vehement arguments, about maybe even something really simple like, "He shouldn't be able to drive or whatever it is." Whenever you do come up with something and then you just can't get past it, and eventually you have to or you're stuck.
Honey Parker: 24:49 We came up with something called plan C, because Blaine and I've been writing together for a long time. And it was if he was very much in camp A, and I was very much in camp B, we would look for camp C.
Bruce: 25:01 And, since we've started an advertising agency 10 years ago, that has saved our butts repeatedly. It's been great. And here's the thing, as I'm listening to your dynamic here thinking, well, why didn't we think of that?[crosstalk 00:25:14]
Cathryn: 25:16 Well, actually... And I kind of had the same thought when you just mentioned what you said. I think that sometimes when people get into armed camps on a creative issue, maybe the choice that no one's thought of is going to be the better thing. And so, that sound like a really good idea.
Honey Parker: 25:33 Yeah. It's interesting it's worked out because we never see plan C for a long time, but once we do, we're like, "Oh..." And we both love it.
Blaine Parker: 25:40 Well, one of the things that's really interesting about people who don't work in a creative business, and you may experienced this, is they come up with one creative idea and they go, "Ah, this is it. I will never have another creative idea."
Honey Parker: 25:53 And so, they can't let go.
Cathryn: 25:54 Well, we crush those people's spirits. The way we do it. I love to tell the story of W. Bruce Cameron, which is that he wanted to be a writer. He was in high school, he sold a short story to the Kansas City Star. It's like, "I'm amazing. Where's my Pulitzer, blah, blah, blah." And then life interfered, and he married his high school sweetheart, and had kids and so he had a day job working for general motors, but he got up every day at four in the morning and wrote.
And, he wrote nine unpublished novels. Wrote nine novels. Didn't really understand how publishing worked in terms of... He would just send it off to some publishers, and they would send it back and say, "No thanks." And that's not really how publishing works. But he never stopped doing it. And, "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" was his 10th book. The first to be published, and it debuted on the New York Times best seller list. And so, people are like, "Oh, overnight success." I'm like, "Really? Where's your nine Novels? Did you write nine novels?"
Blaine Parker: 26:53 What overnight success was not years in the making.
Cathryn: 26:56 Yep.
Blaine Parker: 26:56 Nobody ever sees that.
Cathryn: 26:58 But that one does crush people's spirits, because a lot of people be like, "I wrote a book." I'm like, "Good for you. Write eight more."
Honey Parker: 27:04 And in this town it's so often that somebody will say, "I've got a great idea. I just need someone to write it."
Cathryn: 27:11 Yeah. I love that.[crosstalk 00:27:12]
Honey Parker: 27:11 Well thank you, so much.
Bruce: 27:13 Yeah. So mad [inaudible 00:27:15] every time I hear that I get borderline violent.
Cathryn: 27:18 Yeah, I know. Every writer does. Well, I'm sure... I don't know what the language restrictions are in your podcast but-
Blaine Parker: 27:25 None.
Cathryn: 27:26 Then you've probably read the essay, "No, I Will Not Read Your Fucking Screenplay." which is [crosstalk 00:27:31]the greatest because it's...
Bruce: 27:35 I'd forgotten all about it.
Cathryn: 27:37 It's the greatest. You can google it and it's everything about-
Bruce: 27:40 It been years, but that was epic.
Cathryn: 27:42 Oh, every writer in this town has passed that thing. And it's true. It's like yeah, go, you deal with your own.
Blaine Parker: 27:49 Yeah. This is a sidebar. It really has very little to do with the two of you writing together. But The Repo Madness, Ruddy McCann books, are those recent creation? Or is that something that comes from your previous...
Bruce: 28:01 The seeds of it were planted when I started repossessing cars in Northern Michigan.
Blaine Parker: 28:04 You were a repo man?
Bruce: 28:05 Yeah.
Cathryn: 28:06 Yeah.
Blaine Parker: 28:06 This is great.
Bruce: 28:07 So, after a while I started thinking, a repo man is in part a private detective. He's a skip tracer. He's looking for people. He's looking for their cars but he's looking for people, and I thought this would... Someday I want to write a mystery.
Cathryn: 28:19 Well, and you would tell me these stories. He... there's a million, they're great. And, certainly in both of those books-
Blaine Parker: 28:28 And they have a dog.
Cathryn: 28:28 Yeah. But in both of those books, there are stories that are within the novels that are things that actually happened to you. And I was like, "You got to use those stories, they're so good."[crosstalk 00:28:43]
Blaine Parker: 28:43 Wow. Are there more books coming I assume?
Bruce: 28:43 Well, it's funny I get asked that by... Every book signing I do, there's always somebody who lurks and I can... After a while I can figure out who they're going... I'm going to say, it's going to be that lady right there. Holds up her hand, she says "Okay, the dog books are fine, but when are you going to write another book about Ruddy McCann?" And I get this constantly.
Cathryn: 29:02 You will. He's just super busy with-
Bruce: 29:06 Yeah, I've got a few things going on but it's one of my favorite things to do. So, I might just do it just for fun.
Blaine Parker: 29:12 Okay, for the uninitiated Ruddy McCann is kind of the blue collar Travis McGee of the Michigan Upper Peninsula.
Cathryn: 29:19 That's very fair.
Blaine Parker: 29:20 So there you go.
Bruce: 29:21 Yeah
Cathryn: 29:22 Yeah.
Blaine Parker: 29:22 What more do you need to know?
Cathryn: 29:23 [crosstalk 00:29:23]Well he's a great character.
Blaine Parker: 29:25 [crosstalk 00:29:25] and has adventures.
Cathryn: 29:26 It is actually one of his most... I want to say lauded, because you got nominated for the Kirkus Prize for that book. And, it's really good literary, mystery writing, and it has a very quirky supernatural hook to it. Just to pitch it out shortly, this guy is like a repo man and all of a sudden one day there's a voice inside of his head that speaks to him, and the voice says, "I was murdered, and you have to solve my murder." And, it kind of happens... Ruddy's in his early 30s and if you're going to become schizophrenic, oftentimes that's when that break might happen. So, Ruddy is unsure if in fact there's a dead guy living in his head, that's an option A, or option B, I'm becoming schizophrenic.
Blaine Parker: 30:16 He's getting repo madness.
Honey Parker: 30:16 Right.
Cathryn: 30:16 He's getting repo madness.
Blaine Parker: 30:18 Yes.
Honey Parker: 30:18 Wow.
Cathryn: 30:20 It's a good book though. And the characters are great.
Blaine Parker: 30:23 This might actually be a good place to use the 'R' word because, and I hope you don't take offense with this, the two of you together seem to be relentless.
Cathryn: 30:33 Yeah.
Blaine Parker: 30:33 You are relentless.
Bruce: 30:34 I thought you were going to say ridiculous.
Blaine Parker: 30:36 We're saving that for later.
Bruce: 30:38 Okay.
Cathryn: 30:38 Really sexy.
Blaine Parker: 30:40 Yes. That is often used [crosstalk 00:30:41]
Honey Parker: 30:41 That's where he usually go.
Blaine Parker: 30:43 Relentless creatives, relentless promoters, relentless in everything. It just... It's great. Do you stop?
Honey Parker: 30:53 Yeah. I was going to say, what's your typically day like?
Bruce: 30:56 Well...
Honey Parker: 30:56 Typically[crosstalk 00:30:58]
Cathryn: 30:58 We're generally seven day a week workers and we-
Bruce: 30:58 We're objects in motion.
Cathryn: 31:02 Yeah. And we have multiple disciplines that we are doing, and people that didn't love us as much as they should have in the past, have accused us of being workaholics. I don't know what that means.
Bruce: 31:17 People accused us of that?
Cathryn: 31:18 Yeah.
Bruce: 31:18 Okay.
Cathryn: 31:19 I don't know what that means though. It's if you love your work...
Bruce: 31:21 Yeah.
Honey Parker: 31:21 Right.
Bruce: 31:22 Why would you stop?
Cathryn: 31:22 I don't know why that's bad.
Blaine Parker: 31:26 We know people who do things like, run an IT company. No, you got to stop at some point because you'll go crazy probably. But I got to imagine living here at the beach in Marina del Ray, you probably find yourselves being able to go, "I can stop for a little bit and go out there." [crosstalk 00:31:44]
Cathryn: 31:43 You know what? But you're right. You've pegged us right. We are mountain bikers. We love to... Or even just bike along the beach path here, but inevitably while we're doing it, we'll solve some creative problems. So, it just really... I practice yoga three times a week. I ride my bike to the yoga studio. I do an hour and a half class with a maniac who's really mean, and then I ride back. But I never have a class where I don't solve a creative problem or figure something out in the midst of that. So, some people will be like, "You need to take a break and be more... Whatever."
Blaine Parker: 32:19 So Bruce, does she come home from yoga all sweaty and dripping and go "I solved it."
Cathryn: 32:26 Yeah.
Bruce: 32:26 Yeah, that sounds like a very familiar story for me.
Honey Parker: 32:30 Whenever I get too wound up planning I'd be like, "Go for a run now. Go." Or... So we live in Park City. So, I'd go ski some laps and come home, and it changes everything.
Cathryn: 32:41 It changes everything. So, does that make me a workaholic? Or does that make me somebody who... I am doing the thing that I love. I am doing yoga, going skiing, or going for a bike ride, and it gives me some clarity in my work. So, I don't know. I don't think other people should judge your process.
Honey Parker: 33:02 No.[crosstalk 00:33:03]
Blaine Parker: 33:03 Well, it's also not like you're neglecting the baby here anyway.
Cathryn: 33:07 Yeah, we don't have a baby. We have the dog that treat like a baby.
Blaine Parker: 33:10 And, we were disappointed to have not met Tucker.
Cathryn: 33:13 Yes. But are there not enough images of the dog?
Blaine Parker: 33:13 There is a...
Honey Parker: 33:16 The painting is pretty fabulous.
Blaine Parker: 33:18 Yeah, a four foot high portrait of Tucker over the fireplace. So how do you... Does the dog sit still for a portrait or do you need a photograph.
Cathryn: 33:27 It was a photograph.
Blaine Parker: 33:28 Okay.
Honey Parker: 33:29 So Cathryn, when you were directing "Cook Off", Bruce, what was your involvement or were you involved-
Cathryn: 33:35 Bruce was a producer on the film and we're co-screenwriters of it, although it's curb your enthusiasm. What we wrote was a scriptment 110-page description of everything that happened, with certain jokes in lines of dialogue. But our cast was ridiculous.
Honey Parker: 33:55 Who wasn't in that film? [crosstalk 00:33:56] Every time we're... And there is Marcia Wallace [crosstalk 00:34:01]
Cathryn: 34:00 There's Marcia Wallace, there's Melissa McCarthy, there's...
Bruce: 34:04 Gavin MacLeod.
Cathryn: 34:04 Gavin MacLeod-
Blaine Parker: 34:05 Everybody who's a comic actor in Hollywood was in that movie.
Cathryn: 34:08 Yeah, it was really fun. I was a second city person. There were Groundlings people. There was a lot of cross pollination amongst that improv community and we just had amazing people.
Honey Parker: 34:18 You had half the Reno cast.
Cathryn: 34:20 Yep. Yep. Wendi McLendon Covey...[crosstalk 00:34:23]
Honey Parker: 34:22 Oh, she blew me away[crosstalk 00:34:25]
Cathryn: 34:24 She's adorable in the movie.
Honey Parker: 34:25 The scenes between the two of you where you're saying something and she's just giving a look.
Cathryn: 34:29 Yeah. The slow burns of Pauline Solfest are forever etched in my mind after editing the movie. So anyway, Bruce was a full producer on that movie and deeply involved. So, that was... That's just another area in which we collaborate.
Blaine Parker: 34:44 So... And here's a question. You're directing a movie?
Cathryn: 34:47 Yeah.
Blaine Parker: 34:48 Bruce, you're producing this movie.
Bruce: 34:50 Yes.
Blaine Parker: 34:50 And then you go home at night. What are the conversations like?
Cathryn: 34:53 Oh, when you're shooting?
Blaine Parker: 34:55 Yeah.
Cathryn: 34:56 What time are we setting the alarm.
Bruce: 34:57 [crosstalk 00:34:57] Well, I've got three hours to sleep.
Cathryn: 35:00 Do we have any food, and what time are we getting up. Oh, I got to call the AD because we've just lost the location or whatever.
Honey Parker: 35:08 And how long was that process?
Cathryn: 35:10 Shooting those movies?
Honey Parker: 35:11 Shooting, yeah.
Cathryn: 35:11 Both of the movies that I directed were sag low-budget modified, low budget independent films. And, both of them were made in three six-day weeks of shooting, which is very short.
Blaine Parker: 35:24 Wow. Three six-day weeks?
Cathryn: 35:25 Yeah. And then we did both... There was B units and other shooting that happened post principal photography. But principal photography was three eight-day weeks, three six-day weeks sorry.
Blaine Parker: 35:38 So was that... And Muffin Top.
Cathryn: 35:39 And Muffin Top was the same. Yeah, it's really hard. So, you're shooting more pages a day even than you shoot on television, which is at least twice as fast as you generally shoot a feature. When we were making one of our movies with Amblin, or the movie we made with Sony, there are days when we're shooting half page, or a page and half on both Cook Off and Muffin Top. We could have seven, eight, nine page days. TV is maybe four to five pages.
Blaine Parker: 36:09 I'm suddenly thinking... Especially the Muffin Top, because you get a lot of props for Muffin Top for putting it out there.
Cathryn: 36:14 Yeah.
Blaine Parker: 36:15 What's that conversation between the two of you. Bruce you're saying, "Yeah. Put it out there."
Bruce: 36:19 Oh, you mean in terms of her Muffin Top?
Blaine Parker: 36:22 Yeah.
Cathryn: 36:23 Oh Yeah.
Bruce: 36:24 That was a stunt stomach. It really wasn't[crosstalk 00:36:28]
Cathryn: 36:28 No. I did put on weight for the movie but[crosstalk 00:36:30]
Blaine Parker: 36:30 Not so much the Muffin Top itself, but you got a lot of props for putting out there the idea that this whole glamor culture that we're obsessed with is ridiculous. And, go out there and be not glamorous. Go out there and be raw.
Cathryn: 36:44 Well I've always been about being funny. I've never tried... Even when I'm being an actor for other people, my wheelhouse has never been, "Oh, your glamorous leading lady." That's kind of never been what I even wanted to do.
Bruce: 36:58 I'm the glamorous one.
Cathryn: 36:59 He's the glamorous-
Blaine Parker: 37:00 I noticed that.
Honey Parker: 37:01 I was surprised when you were wearing a gown when we walked in, but-
Bruce: 37:03 Yeah.
Honey Parker: 37:04 It works ultimately.
Bruce: 37:05 I know I'm a eye candy. That's just how I roll.
Cathryn: 37:09 I wish. I can't even get them to wear a kilt but I tried. I think Kilts are sexy but-
Honey Parker: 37:17 Mr. Parker for our first anniversary, wore a kilt.
Blaine Parker: 37:17 I did?
Honey Parker: 37:20 You did.
Cathryn: 37:20 They're great.
Blaine Parker: 37:21 Kilts are great.
Cathryn: 37:22 They're very... He's Scottish. W. Bruce Cameron.[crosstalk 00:37:25]
Bruce: 37:24 Of course, silly me.
Cathryn: 37:25 How Scottish can you be and you won't wear one.
Blaine Parker: 37:30 Yeah. The clan Cameron?
Bruce: 37:31 I have-
Cathryn: 37:32 Yeah we got a plaid, we got the whole thing.
Bruce: 37:33 I have the legs of a donkey. And if I wore a kilt, the police would come. The SWAT team would break down the door, "Put the kilt down Mr.Cameron."[crosstalk 00:37:42]
Cathryn: 37:44 But to your point. So Muffin Top... This is just a sad story but there was a very awkward day on set where I had cast... So, Marcia Wallace was in both of those movies because she was a dear friend of ours and so talented, and we had her do cameos in both of those movies as Marcia Wallace. She would play Marcia Wallace as Marcia Wallace in both of those movies. And-
Bruce: 38:07 Very convincingly.
Cathryn: 38:07 Very committed.
Blaine Parker: 38:07 Yeah.
Honey Parker: 38:09 She was spot on.
Cathryn: 38:10 But the young man who[crosstalk 00:38:13] plays her son in Muffin Top, is in fact her son. Mikey Hawley is Marcia Wallace's son. And because it was a low budget movie, we were shooting in Marcia Wallace's house. Marcia Wallace's son in Marcia Wallace's son's bedroom. And, there's a bedroom scene between us that's very funny because I have all these things going on. I have breast pads, and a thing in my hair, and it's all not going well in our making out in the bedroom. And we were shooting it, and Bruce... It was a small room. Bruce was standing in the corner, and didn't you get sort of caught in the shot[inaudible 00:38:51]?
Bruce: 38:51 I was drinking a cup of coffee, and then the DP calls, "Cut." which rarely happens, but sometimes... And he says, "Well we've got a problem. We're shooting Cathryn and Mikey rolling around on the bed and then there's clearly Bruce Cameron her husband standing in the doorway drinking coffee and watching. I don't think that's the movie we set out to make."
Blaine Parker: 38:51 That's one for the tape reel.
Cathryn: 38:51 Yeah.
Blaine Parker: 39:13 Is it safe to assume that you are each other's biggest fans?
Cathryn: 39:22 I would love to have that title but I'm sorry to say that Bruce's biggest fan really has to be his mom, who is the most... The greatest... Not a stage mom because he's not an actor, but... The wonderful story that we tell about her, she will sell anybody that she meets. She's 89 years old now?
Bruce: 39:44 She's 89.
Cathryn: 39:45 She's 89. She'll sell anybody that she meets. They need to read A Dog's Purpose. They need to buy it, blah, blah, blah. She will sell you the book personally. If you don't want to buy the book, she'll give it to you. She just wants you to read the book. And, she belongs to a church in Northern Michigan and at little Episcopal church... And every Sunday, she would set up a card table in the front steps of the church, with all of Bruce's books and sell people the books.
And then, they got a new priest and the new priest said, "That's kind of inappropriate. And, remember when Jesus got all mad and turned over all the tables and money changers... We don't sell stuff before people come into church. And so, it's really inappropriate. We would ask you not to do that anymore." And she's like, "Mm-hmm (affirmative)" And then next Sunday she's there with her card table. And what are you going to do with a five foot-tall, 89 year old woman?
Honey Parker: 40:36 Nothing.
Cathryn: 40:36 Really, carry her off? No. She's still selling the books. I'm a big fan but I just don't know if I can compete with your mum.
Honey Parker: 40:45 That's hysterical.
Blaine Parker: 40:45 Okay. Let's assume mum get a pass because there're genes involved.
Cathryn: 40:49 Yeah.
Bruce: 40:49 Okay.
Blaine Parker: 40:50 So, what is it your favorite work of the others? That may not be what people might expect [crosstalk 00:40:59]
Bruce: 40:58 Well, it's always complicated to ask that of people in creative endeavors, because I would pick something that hasn't yet been shot, which is the movie that Cathryn is currently putting together, the financing on as being her. I think that's her best work of today.
Cathryn: 41:19 I think so too. It doesn't exist yet but I'm proud [inaudible 00:41:24]
Blaine Parker: 41:23 Okay.
Cathryn: 41:23 But for Bruce, I'm going to... There are some real Bruce Cameron fans who kind of pride themselves on this. My favorite book of his is Emory's gift, which is the second novel that was published by Macmillan after A Dog's Purpose. They were so happy with the Dogs Purpose they literally said, "Write it on a napkin and we'll give you a book deal." And, that was the book that you chose to write, and I just... It's a Christian allegory.
It's a story of a boy and a grizzly bear. And, it takes place in Idaho and it's just a-
Blaine Parker: 41:23 A boy and a grizzly bear Christian.
Cathryn: 42:01 Mm-hmm (affirmative). And it's just a beautiful... It's very much in the CS Lewis tradition of...
Blaine Parker: 42:06 Okay. I was going to say Christian allegory we're talking about Jonathan Livingston Seagull...
Cathryn: 42:09 No. It's really more like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe kind of a thing, where the Christ figure is represented by this bear, and it's just a beautiful book. It's funny. Anything Bruce read, there's funny things in it, but it's really tender, and its about a guy in junior high, which is the worst time of life. And, I think Bruce is just so accurately captures how horrible everyone when they're in seventh grade. And for me, it's just beautiful writing and I think that's my favorite.
Blaine Parker: 42:40 And I think Bruce likes it too.
Bruce: 42:42 Yeah, thanks. You surprise me because Cathryn is such a relentless marketer, and I just have to say she's... She was way out ahead of all the so called social media, advertisers, and experts. She had to gain the thing with very little money and yet, I credit her with getting my first novel on the New York Times bestseller list.
Cathryn: 43:03 Although you know what? Wait a second. Favorite is?
Bruce: 43:03 What?
Cathryn: 43:04 Because I just reread it yesterday is, A Dog's Promise, which is coming out in two weeks. Because the thing about The Dog's Purpose franchise is that, if people have only read The Dog's Purpose, they're like, "I don't know if I can do that again." I'm like, "You know what? Do it again."
Honey Parker: 43:21 Yeah.
Cathryn: 43:21 Because every... Because it switches up. This dog soul of Bailey, Bailey, Bailey is evolving. And so, in the dog's journey the game changes, and there are very... But if you read A Dog's Journey, or saw the movie, or well, "That's the end obviously.&quoquot;
Honey Parker: 43:40 Right.
Cathryn: 43:41 And then, A Dog's Promise is such a switch up of the game, of the soul that is now so evolved that he's basically an angel and doesn't know it, and gets sent back to earth to do some very important things. And, I think it's the greatest evolution of the three books. I think it's the most enjoyable. It has the most jokes, it's really funny, and then on the last page I gasped. I was like, "What have you done to me?"
Blaine Parker: 44:13 I'm not going to give anything away but the book is much different.
Cathryn: 44:13 Yeah, it's really different.
Blaine Parker: 44:18 Yeah, I was like, "Hey, things have changed."
Cathryn: 44:20 Yeah, things change.
Honey Parker: 44:21 When I started watching A Dog's Journey I was like, "Okay. I get the pattern the dog comes back. I'm setting myself up for this. I know there's going to be... But ultimately everything... I'm sure will work out but there's going to be some dogs that don't make it to the end of the movie."
Cathryn: 44:36 Yeah.
Honey Parker: 44:37 And, I'm like, "Oh my God that got me again." It was very good.
Cathryn: 44:42 My best friend Marissa Jaret Winokur was sitting next to me at the premiere. And, the whole time she's like, "Oh,[inaudible 00:44:49]God. Oh, my God." Just like slapping me.
Bruce: 44:53 For those of you who can't see this podcast, my wife is pounding [inaudible 00:44:58] She is punching me to illustrate the story[crosstalk 00:44:59]
Cathryn: 44:59 Well she kept slapping me.
Bruce: 44:59 Okay. We get that.
Honey Parker: 45:04 I think the police dog was the toughest one for me.
Cathryn: 45:08 Yeah[crosstalk 00:45:08].
Blaine Parker: 45:08 Yeah, if you hadn't seen[crosstalk 00:45:09]
Cathryn: 45:10 Yeah, and A Dog's Purpose. Yeah.
Blaine Parker: 45:10 ... The movies yet, be prepared. Yes, dogs do pass. However-
Cathryn: 45:15 But they come back.
Honey Parker: 45:15 They come back.
Blaine Parker: 45:18 Okay. There was a movie back in what? The 90s? All Dogs Go To Heaven.
Cathryn: 45:22 Yeah.
Blaine Parker: 45:22 I think this is, all dogs get reincarnated.
Bruce: 45:24 There you go.
Cathryn: 45:24 Yeah. They go to heaven and then they come back.
Blaine Parker: 45:28 Yeah, it works really well, and there are some great dogs. The only thing I kept thinking watching these movies is, how did they do that? How did they control these dogs? How... Did Gail Mancuso... She ever worked the dogs before?
Cathryn: 45:41 Well...
Blaine Parker: 45:41 I had no idea.
Cathryn: 45:42 Gail would tell you... Anyone will tell you it's our dog teams. We had... On A Dog's Journey, It was Bonnie Judd who's amazing, and has been working in the business for... Since Air Bud. She like, "He's an amazing dog trainer." And then, Theresa Miller was our dog handler on A Dog's Way Home. And, that was a particularly challenging thing because we had decided long with Sony that because this was the story of a rescue dog, that we would rescue a dog to be the star of the film.
So, we did a nationwide search and we found this dog Shelby, who came out of a rural shelter in Tennessee, and had been living in a garbage dump, and had not...
Blaine Parker: 46:30 Yeah, her story is...
Cathryn: 46:31 It's amazing.
Blaine Parker: 46:33 ... Amazing.
Cathryn: 46:34 And then became the book Shelby story. The children's book. But anyway, she was amazing, but she was an untrained dog. And then, her double dog who was Amber, was also a rescue. They're both rescues. They look so much alike that it's... We can tell what shot is Amber, which is Shelby, but no one else can. Although I promise you every close up is Shelby because I was like, "Shelby is the Ingrid Bergman of dogs. She just have that face." She so brute a well.
Amber has to jump over logs, and do all the stunts, and run around, and then it's time to close up and then bring in Shelby. And-
Bruce: 47:11 Well, Amber had so much energy and was so powerful, that it was all about trying to get her to slow down. There's a scene in A Dog's Way Home where... The dog, Bella is the character's name. Bella runs up a slide to get over a fence. And the problem with that shot... So, that's Amber doing that because Shelby would be like, "I did once I'm not going do it again.
Cathryn: 47:11 I'm going to my trailer.
Bruce: 47:33 Or a treat, and a massage. But Amber... Every time we shot it, she would make it practically over the fence in one leap. She could hit that slide so fastest and I was like, "How do you slow this dog?"
Cathryn: 47:47 Well, ultimately we use slow... We shot more frames [crosstalk 00:47:50]so we can her low down.
Bruce: 47:50 So they could slow her down. She powered up that slide. She has so much enthusiasm. She loved the snow. Shelby was from Tennessee and it said, "Whatever this stuff is, I'm out." So we... A lot of the scenes it's Amber in the snow, and you can just see the energy she brings. She was so excited to be in the snow.
Cathryn: 48:11 My joke about Amber and Shelby was that it was very much like, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. They were very jealous every time. In terms of if one of them was on camera, the other one is just looking them like, "Why is it you? I could have done that."
Bruce: 48:25 Yes. That's exactly right.
Blaine Parker: 48:27 As a couple working together in this crazy town, would you have it any other way? This has been part one of Cathryn Michon and W. Bruce Cameron of Surprise Hit Films recorded in Marina Del Rey, California. If you want to know more about Bruce, and his current book tour supporting the new book "A Dog's Promise", visit wbrucecameron.com. That is wbrucecameron.com.
Honey Parker: 48:52 And, join us next time as we return to Marina Del Rey to continue this conversation.
Blaine Parker: 48:57 We're going to hear some interesting and useful tips about the dynamics of working as a couple with staff, especially when it comes to contentious conversation.
Honey Parker: 49:06 And why you maybe shouldn't be working together as a couple.
Blaine Parker: 49:09 And, in perhaps the most Hollywood moment of all in the entire conversation, a romantic moment that involves Cathryn promising to save her receipts.
Honey Parker: 49:19 That was very romantic.
Blaine Parker: 49:21 Join us for part two of "A Dog's Purpose" screenwriters Cathryn Michon and W. Bruce Cameron next time, here on CoupleCo: Working With Your Spouse For Fun and Profit.
Honey Parker: 49:30 Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.
Blaine Parker: 49:33 Love you baby.
Honey Parker: 49:33 Love you too.
Blaine Parker: 49:34 CoupleCo out.