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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Dog acting school opens doors
Lassie and actor Roddy McDowell from the film Lassie Come Home
Lassie was one of the first canine celluloid superstars
A school to train "dog actors" is being launched to cash in on the growing south Wales film industry.

The organisers hope to teach their canine students how to perform stunts on cue such as playing dead and rolling over.

But pooches whose owners volunteer them for the stage school will have to learn basic obedience skills first.

Then it is hoped they could progress to become the next star of dog films like Beethoven or 103 Dalmatians.

Owners will have to put some effort into it too
Trainer Stephen Vedmore

Work has begun on a 330m new film studios backed by Lord Richard Attenborough at nearby Llanilid, near Llantrisant.

The first part of the complex, which will employ 1,700, is due to open next year.

Stephen Vedmore, an animal behaviourist who will teach the dogs at AP Cymru Training in Butetown, Cardiff, said: "We also want to follow the idea adopted by the American Humane Society which oversees that there is no cruelty to the dogs".

Mr Vedmore, from Brynmawr, south Wales, who has 30 years' experience in dog training, has just returned from Pinewood studios in London with his own giant schnauzer called Geezer after working on the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie, starring Johnny Depp.

He has also worked on television and other films including 102 Dalmatians, which starred Ioan Gruffudd and his partner Alice Evans.

Dog 'starlets' and owners arriving for their first acting class
Dog 'starlets' and owners arriving for their first acting class

Now he has teamed up with the managing director of the acting school, army military trainer Huw Lewis, after he brought his own dog Fan, which had behavioural problems, to him for training.

But before they are put forward for movie fame, recruits to the acting school at a drill hall in Cardiff will have to learn the basics of obedience.

"They have to learn to sit, lie down, come when called and ignore other dogs," said Mr Vedmore.

Once the animals are fully trained, the door to stardom could soon open for them, he said.

"If they can successfully do all that, we'll put them on our books and see whether they get a call-up."

"But owners will have to put some effort into it too. If it takes off I would like to get involved in training other animals - but we'd need somewhere like a farm for that."




SEE ALSO:
Potter film hope for disabled dog
09 Sep 04  |  Americas
Japanese dogs hit the catwalk
12 Jun 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Valleywood work to start
27 Aug 04  |  Wales


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