More to the Story: Life Span of a Dog
Taylor Harrington 4/6/2021 12:00pm EST
Life Span of a Dog is a short film in pre-production that takes place in the 1970s. It is the story of Laura, a young girl, who loses her father and copes with the loss by finding solace in the performing arts. We had the opportunity to sit down for intimate interviews with the film’s star, director, and writer and learn more about the new film and the background of the three that are bringing this story to life.
After her father passes, Laura experiences second-hand generational trauma through a series of flashbacks that aren’t her own. As the story goes on you find out that Laura’s father was a Holocaust survivor, but she was never told much about his past while he was alive.
Life Span of a Dog truly covers heavy, but important, topics such as PTSD, social anxiety, generational trauma, and the beauty and peace that can be found in the performing arts.
The incredible component to this compelling story is that Life Span of a Dog closely mirrors the actual life experience of its writer, Cathy Reinking.
Cathy is a casting director and screenwriter who opens up to her audience and shares the flashbacks she was experiencing after her dad passed. The flashbacks were of a life that she never lived, and through Cathy’s writing, we follow her story of Laura, who is overcoming the loss of her father while dealing with life as an awkward pre-teen that has fallen in love with the performing arts.
During our one on one conversation with the film’s writer, we learned that Cathy’s father was a refugee who survived the Holocaust but couldn’t survive very long in real life. Cathy tells us the story of Lifespan of a Dog takes place in a dumpy Palm Springs, California, motel room because that is where she and her family were living at the time that her father passed away. When asked what her process for writing Lifespan of a Dog was Cathy says,
“You know when they say based on a true story, this is that kind of story. I’ve been telling his story in different ways, probably for 20 years. I have a full-length screenplay, but this is definitely its own animal. The screenplay traverses continents over 70 years and is really complex. This is a small piece of that.”
Growing up, Cathy knew that her father had gone through the Holocaust, but didn’t know to what extent. In her adult life, Cathy learned that he had survived Auschwitz and was then sent to two other work camps in Germany. His story goes on and Cathy chronicles this along with how she came to find out the details of her father’s life in her book Little Lucky Girl, available on Amazon.
When asked how she came up with the film’s title, Cathy says,
“A dog usually lives to be about 12 years old. I basically had my father for the life span of a dog.”
Confessional Magazine also had the chance to sit down with the star of the film, Ashlynn Price. When asked how she was able to cast someone to play herself, writer Cathy Reinking says of Ashlynn,
“She’s the right age. She’s a really good actress. She’s adorable. So I was like let me give you some scenes that I wrote and see how you do, and that just exploded.”
Star Ashlynn Price who plays the lead Laura tells us that she recently sat down with the film’s writer for a mock interview in order to get to know her story and character better.
“It’s amazing to be able to talk to the writer Cathy, because it really helps me get to know the backstory of the character.”
When she is getting into character, Ashlynn says she starts by doing breathing exercises she learned from a book written by Nancy Bishop. The young actress will then imagine herself in the actual room her scene is set and think about her character’s emotions and feelings. Having been in theater since she was six years old, Ashlynn has known for a long time that she wanted to work in film. You can also see Ashlynn Price in The Open Door, and a Nickelodeon film called The Kid Who Only Hits Homers.
Sara Benabdallah, the films director, tells us she first became familiar with Life Span of a Dog from working on a prior student film with Ashlynn Price. A few months after that film, Sara was contacted by Ashlyn about a short film her casting director had wrote called Lifespan of a Dog.
“I read the script and I said, Yes, of course. I mean, I love Ashlynn so much. She’s a great actress, so I couldn’t refuse. After reading the script and learning everything, it’s just a beautiful story. Based on true events, it follows her right after her father dies. One of her parents is an immigrant and the other one is a Holocaust survivor, and she really turns to the performing arts for just true healing… Cathy’s (Reinking) point of view in the film is just so clear, and her tone is so wonderful. It’s just a great story. It’s not too sad, it’s just the right amount to tell the story, and I didn’t know about generational trauma before this.”
Sara was born and grew up in Morocco, moving to New York City to attend the New York Film Academy and is currently finishing her MFA at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Sara tells us that Savannah is a growing city for the film industry and is excited to be finishing her thesis project there, which is a stop-motion animation film. She is absolutely in love with that art medium and says,
“It’s really hard because it takes so much time. There’s not a lot of people who do it, but it’s such a beautiful art. I believe in fate, so I believe it’s that… There is such great craftsmanship behind the entire thing.”
The thesis project that Sara is currently working on is called Metal, and it is inspired by her father and his grandfather’s bond.
Lifespan of a Dog has a Twitter and Instagram page as well as a GoFundMe that can be found at www.gofundme.com/life-span-of-a-dog-short-film.
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