So many set visit offers start the same way. “Would you like to go to Florida to see the set of Charles Martin Smith’s Dolphin Tale? It stars Ashely Judd and Morgan Freeman, and you may get to talk to all three.” How does one say no? One doesn’t. I was sent with a handful of online journalists to go on set and meet its stars.
The film is based on the true story of Winter, a dolphin who lost most of her tail in a crab trap. She was considered a lost cause until a doctor (played in the film by Morgan Freeman) invented a prosthetic tail for her. The film is currently set to be released September 23, 2011. We’ll have interviews with Charles Martin Smith, Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, and more once the embargo lifts, but until then I can tell you what the set was like. Hit the jump for more.
We got to spend a day with the crew. First at the aquarium – where we got to meet Winter the dolphin. She’s mostly playing herself in the film, and we got to see her swim around without her prosthetic tail. Then we got a tour of the second unit shooting otters, who were reacting to what would be – in the film – a toy helicopter. Otters are (as to be expected) very cute.
We also got a tour of the aquarium, and got the get up close to a number of sting-rays. Though they had been de-barbed, they didn’t look to be trifled with. There also we got to see the work that KNB had done for the film, with a number of animatronic animals nearby. The wonderful thing about being close to these puppets is finding out how lifelike they can be. When you touch the skin, it feels right.
From there we headed over to set to watch a scene involving Freeman and Judd talking to Gamble’s character, and got to watch them shoot in 3-D. It was new to me that you could watch them shooting the 3-D in 3-D as it was going. And so we all put on our glasses for the scene, seeing the effect immediately.
The film also stars Harry Connick Jr. and Kris Kristofferson. They weren’t on set, but I was reminded that Charles Martin Smith and Kristofferson had once acted together in Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. I couldn’t wait to talk to Smith about that, and we did – albeit briefly. Directors are always the hardest to get on set as they’ve always got something to do.
I had also been warned that both Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman could be hard interviews, but I was pleasantly surprised that both opened up to us (though Freeman had no patience for sillier questions). Both proved to be warm and interesting when they sat down to talk about the film. All in all it was a fun set visit, from the location to the talent, and we’ll be writing about it in greater depth once the embargo lifts. Until then, check out these stills from the movie.