"Stetson" film enchants audiences | ParkRecord.com

"Stetson" film enchants audiences

Jeannine Heil's 2002 children's book "Stetson Street Dog of Park City" was made into a short film in 2008. (Photo courtesy of Jeannine Heil)

After Park City resident Jeannine Heil published her 2002 children’s book "Stetson Street Dog of Park City," many people took notice.

The book, which is about a stray terrier that was rescued by a ski patroller, sold out of its first pressing and continues to entertain children and their families.

One of the people it impressed was independent documentary filmmaker Nancy Ogden.

In 2008, Ogden contacted Heil during the Sundance Film Festival.

"She told me she was a dog lover and wanted to make a short film based on the book," Heil said. "She said, ‘This is out of my realm, which is documentaries, but it will be a challenge and I want to try it.’"

The first thing the two had to do was find a dog.

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"We knew it was going to be a live-action film so Nancy located a dog trainer named Tonya Landon, and I went to a shelter and adopted a wire fox terrier, which is the type of dog that Stetson is," Heil said.

Unfortunately, the dog didn’t have much in the way of acting skills, so Ogden sent Landon out to find another pup.

"Tonya found one that was very smart, but had also been abused," Heil said. "While it wasn’t a happy dog, Tonya could see the potential in his eyes, and began training."

Filming began in the winter of 2007, and a few months later, the 23-minute short, "Stetson Street Dog of Park City" was released in 2012, and was screened at film

festivals around the country including the Durango Film Festival, the International Family Film Festival in Los Angeles, the Fear No Film Festival in Salt Lake City, the Providence Children’s Film Festival and the 15th annual Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, Ala.

It won Best Young Audience Short at the Eugene International Film Festival in 2012.

"During the filming, I had to pinch myself because I couldn’t believe it was actually happening and that someone would take on a project like this," Heil said. "Nancy had the idea of the film being mostly shot in live action and added just a little bit of animation. It’s been great."

For more information about the book and film "Stetson Street Dog of Park City" visit http://www.stetsonstreetdogofparkcity.com.

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