Did working so closely with the dogs change your own personal relationship to man’s best friend?
A lot actually. For instance, when we went home between shooting blocks and I saw dogs, the whole concept of “having a dog” suddenly felt totally absurd. We aren’t accustomed to packs of dogs running around free here. It became completely normal to meet some dogs somewhere and to hang out with them if it felt right. I always liked dogs, but I was afraid of them sometimes as a child. I’ve gained a whole different confidence in dealing with dogs now. I like it when they can live freely. I actually wonder more nowadays about keeping a dog on a leash and having it do everything you tell it.
Americans used monkeys for their rocket experiments, while the Russians used dogs. Do you know why?
There is a story of when the Russian scientists were thinking about which animal they should use. In the course of their research, they visited a circus animal tamer, who said, “whatever you do, don’t use monkeys, they’re far too sensitive. Here in the circus we have dogs and stray dogs. They deal way better with stress.” So, then they went out looking for stray dogs. They kind of auditioned them more or less. The dogs had to be as small as possible so that the space capsule didn’t have to be built too big. And they had to be good looking too. Laika was particularly good for the newspapers with her pretty face.
You worked with different departments at ARRI on “Space Dogs.” How would you sum up the collaboration?
I had worked with Stefan Duell and Ute Baron from ARRI Rental previously. It’s a personal relationship. We look for and find solutions together. I really like that. ARRI is both sincere and at the same time reliable, which is excellent and makes for a lovely cooperation. That proved to be the case again on “Space Dogs,” with the international ARRI support and the communication with Mandy Rahn. She made it all possible, with ARRI Rental, with the Master Grips, and with postproduction at ARRI Media. We're really happy that everything worked so well.