Archive for Benji

No One Wanted It

The smoke from a huge, black cigar lay heavy across the room, stirred only by the cigar itself as it leaped from mouth to hand, swirled and circled up from the chair, danced across the huge office, then paused to jab at the air like a driving piston.

Ed and I sat in stunned silence. There was a dank, black empty feeling oozing down over me. Cold and distant, yet agonizingly painful. The words spewing from the smoke of the fat man’s cigar, were going astray, some hitting, some missing. I was drifting in and out. Had all of this been for nothing? The question was directed at God. With attitude I’m afraid. The years of preparation? The experience? The planning? The dreams?

“Totally wrong for Paramount!’ barked the mouth behind the cigar. “It’s too damn sweet. And the music is… well… it’s… it’s too sticky… it’s all wrong. If you cut the Clairol sequence, we might try something with Saturday matinees, but beyond that… I mean, at night it doesn’t have a chance!”

The words fell out of his mouth like crystal shattering on a tile floor. We had tried Disney. And Fox, and MGM, and Warner Brothers. Everybody! This simply couldn’t be happening!

We couldn’t get a distributor. No one wanted it. Not one. Zero.

The following summer Variety reported that the movie Benji had the #3 box office gross in all the land. Most of it with adults. At night.

God’s hand at work. Up close and personal.

Amazon and Kindle

Order Personally Inscribed Copies of God Only Knows – $15.00

Please list names for each inscription in the “instructions to Seller” field as you check out!

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Kathleen and I watched Benji the Hunted last night

And I was blown away.

It’s been fifteen years since I last watched it. It was such a very difficult shoot it’s sometimes hard to disassociate all the problems we had with every location, every shot. Back then, I was probably never able to just sit back and watch it as a movie. It was seriously difficult because there are only five minutes of people in the entire film. The rest is all animals. Bears, wolves, hawks, ferrets, bunnies, owls, and cougars. Big ones and small ones. And every one of them had to literally act on the screen just as Benji does to tell the story. To portray their feelings and emotions and intentions every bit as well as Benji does. And they do. I watched it last night as I would watch any other movie. Well, almost. I don’t come out of most movies so very proud. Proud that I had just watched a classic film unlike any I have ever seen. And there will probably never be another quite like it. Remember there was no CGI back then. No digitally painting a worried face onto an otherwise happy animal. Or vice versa. What you see is real. Just the way we shot it. It’s exciting, and amazing, and very entertaining. All of which is why I can say, unapologetically, it blew me away. It’s available on Amazon as instant video to rent or buy, and as a DVD. Disney was the distributor on this one so we get nothing when you watch. But I highly recommend it to you. Here’s the link:

Benji the Hunted on Amazon

Production Office Walls


“Dear Dad… The world you created lives on.”

Brandon, my youngest, sent these photos of the production office walls in New Orleans where he is directing the next Benji movie. The only caption was “Dear Dad… The world you created lives on.” Sniff. Can’t wait to visit this weekend.

opseqwall-500

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Steven Spielberg Loves Benji

From the new Cesar’s Way Magazine
Oscar’s Issue

Who’s Hollywood’s Top Dog?

Needless to say when the Oscars are handed out this weekend there will be no prize for a four-legged star.

In fact, when they held the first Academy Awards in 1929 Rin Tin Tin got more votes than any human actors…but the Academy decided it would be inappropriate to give an Oscar to a non-human.

So at Cesar’s Way Magazine we decided it was time to redress the balance and in the new issue which goes on sale this week we’re presenting a Hall of Fame of the 50 best dogs in movies and TV. We’re sure you’ll agree on some and not on others Read More→

Believe in Yourself

I grabbed Carolyn’s hand as we stepped off the train. A nervous chill of anticipation skittered up my spine. People were rushing past us, anxious to get on with their morn­ing, and we timidly tried to keep up. Someone spoke, and smiled, then spoke again and hurried off. The words meant noth­ing, but we smiled back just the same.

I was bristling with excitement. Gone were the miseries of the long, sleepless flight over. Gone were the first flashes of Milano, seen as a drowsy blur of televi­sion stations and newspaper report­ers. Now, after a good night’s sleep on a long train ride, my senses were alive and tingling again and the whole feeling was like I had dozed off in Dallas and awakened here.

It was our first trip abroad and my first time out of the country except for three days in Nassau and a few hours in Juarez. So, maybe you can imagine. I mean, anywhere would’ve been terrific, but we weren’t just anywhere. We were in Rome!

The Eternal City. Born nine hundred years before Christ. Home of Cato, Nero, Constantine and the Caesars. A magical place where it is said, you can actually hear the breathing of the centuries; Read More→

Trust Yourself to Try and Err


For years I’ve called the process of making Benji movies trial-and-error film making. I always – well, usually – know what I want to see up there on the screen, but almost never know how to get it on film. I remember late one night in Oregon on Benji the Hunted there were about twelve of us crammed and bundled around the camera which was sitting on the dirt pointed down at a tiny little cougar cub who was supposed to be looking up at Benji, pleading with his eyes to not be left alone to be eaten by Read More→