It was a long day of filming.
Filming the long, muscular bull terriers playing in the snow, scarfing down some food and even walking on a treadmill kept videographer Wesley Poole and his colleagues at MotionMasters busy. The video production company based in Dunbar worked to film an original dog show for the national television network, FidoTV.
For the show, MotionMasters’ crew traveled across the country to find and film some of the top dog breeders in the country. Poole shot the majority of the footage. He knew well the challenges that filming dogs can bring — like coming home covered in dog hair, getting smacked by a mastiff’s giant tail or cleaning paw prints off your camera — but he had no way of anticipating what the bull terriers would bring.
“Bull terriers don’t think twice before running into you,” he said. “... Like ramming a Viking ship into something else, it’s not soft.”
The breed, known for its mischievous behavior, enjoyed practicing its ramming techniques on Poole’s body. He’d bend down low to get a shot, and then from out of nowhere, BAM! The dog’s large, egg-shaped head would come crashing into his side.
“Their head is like a rock football. … If they run into you, you feel it,” Poole said.
Throughout the day, Poole had to either try to dodge the little buggers or stand his ground and take the hit as he filmed. It was tiring work.
Before the crew could leave, they needed to film one more thing — an interview with the dogs’ owner. They decided to go inside her home. They set up in her downstairs family room. A fireplace provided a nice background.
To get depth on the shot, Poole backed up as far as he could. He backed up into a corner at the bottom of an open staircase to create distance from his subject. The room was quiet. Filming was going smoothly. Then he started to feel something. There was weight on his back, paws on his back.
One of the bull terriers was trying to climb onto him. The dog’s front paws were standing on Poole’s shoulders, his eyes were peering around Poole’s head. It looked like he was curious to see what Poole was filming.
“These are 60 pound dogs or something, and it wants to get on you,” Poole said. “They are not that little.”
Trying to dodge a bull terriers’ tackle or balance a 60-pound dog on your back while holding an expensive camera were just some of the challenges Poole and his colleagues encountered while trying to film the new national television show, “Which Woof’s for Me?”
The show, which launched on FidoTV on March 31, airs at 8 p.m. every Thursday. Already-released episodes air on FidoTV throughout the week.
FidoTV, a new television channel dedicated to dog lovers, launched on DISH in October 2015. FidoTV is available to DISH’s nearly 14 million homes on channel 245.
Its founder and CEO, Tad Walden, is originally from Elkview. Walden said in a November 2015 interview with the Gazette-Mail that negotiations were underway to make FidoTV available to an additional 26 to 30 million homes. Diana Sole Walko, president of MotionMasters, said announcements will come soon about additional cable systems offering the channel, although she couldn’t provide further detail.
Walko and her team of four started filming the episodes for “Which Woof’s for Me?” in October 2015. They filmed six 30-minute episodes. Each episode focused on two breeds. In total, they featured 12 dog breeds and 24 of the most respected dog breeders in the country, Walko said.
Two of the 24 breeders featured on the show live in West Virginia. Adrianne Dering of Morgantown breeds Cotons de Tulear and Carrie Chase breeds Pembroke Welsh corgis in Martinsburg.
According to Pam Haynes, director of the West Virginia Film Office, MotionMasters’ production of a full-length national television show is a first for a West Virginia production company.
“Based on my knowledge of the film industry’s history in the state, this is the only production company that has received this type of contractual arrangement to create and produce an original television series for a cable network,” Haynes said.
Walko and her team have known about FidoTV and Walden’s mission for awhile now. Years ago, when FidoTV was still an idea, Walden employed MotionMasters to create a marketing video to explain the channel’s concept to possible investors. Part of that video explained the types of programming that would be on FidoTV.
Walko said she remembers when they were piecing together the marketing video that she found herself interested in making the shows they were detailing in the video.
“And I was like, ‘I want to do that one. I want to do that one.’” she said. “And ultimately I was like ‘I want to do all of them,’ but that’s not really possible.”
When FidoTV decided to do a breed-specific show, MotionMasters received the green light to produce it. This type of show style is a new format for the West Virginia company, which has become known for its educational videos. Walko said they are already in the process of picking new breeds to film for future episodes.
In an educational but entertaining way, the television series profiles specific dog breeds. It explains a dog’s traits, characteristics, its exercise and nutritional needs and more.
“It basically tries to help you determine which breed of dog best fits your lifestyle,” Walko said.
Walko found breeders in seven different states. She said it was very important to the network that they feature the top breeders of a specific breed.
“You have to have credibility that somebody talking on camera about mastiffs, for example, is somebody the mastiff community respects,” Walko said.
It was also important to film dogs performing the task or job they were trained to do. They filmed little corgis herding ducks. They watched labrador retrievers retrieve mock birds on land and in water. And they filmed Airedale terriers perform a search and rescue.
Sometimes, after spending long days filming the dogs, it was common during the editing process that Rich Granberry, the show’s primary editor, would realize they needed a little more footage of a dog.
Diane Dimoff, a producer at MotionMasters, said she would then track down local dogs of particular breeds to help them finish an episode. Local bulldogs, beagles, labs and German shepherds were featured on the show, Dimoff said.
Although filming and producing the full-length show in a short amount of time (they had from October to February) was stressful, Walko and her team still had a lot of fun with it.
Before Walko left her house to go film she would tell her husband, “I’m off to play with the puppies today.”
They did get to play with a lot of puppies.
Poole and his camera got up-close views of tiny Coton puppies. The puppies look like little white cotton balls, and they have a sweet temperament.
On the other hand, bull terrier puppies tried to attack Poole. He said he entered the room where the puppies lived. They were everywhere. It felt like there were 50 puppies swarming the ground, Poole said, but there were probably only 12.
“You couldn’t walk in the room. They were attacking your shoe strings and your shoes. And untying your shoes and chewing on your pants, and your coat, and your arm and your camera. I had papers in my back pocket and they would chew it out of my pocket,” Poole said.
“We called them little piranhas.”
To see the little piranhas in action, check out “Which Woof’s for Me?” airing at 8 p.m. every Thursday on FidoTV.
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