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What do worms, slobs and martial arts have in common? They all had encounters with Marcia Silen the producer of BloodHounds, Inc. and the principal in the company that is set to start filming the feature film BloodHounds The Movie, Young Citizen Patriots based on the critically acclaimed DVD series. Worms were featured in the episode Invasion of the UFOS. Slobs is the star dog actor in the DVD series and upcoming film. Many years ago, Silen used to dub martial arts films into English before distributing them nationwide.
The youth-oriented series BloodHounds, Inc. featured actors Richard Thomas (Waltons and It's A Miracle), Kendra Thomas (his daughter), Craig Hauer (Baywatch, 7th Heaven and The Thirteenth Birthday) and Antonia Jones (As Good As It Gets, Forever Love, Kojak 2005 episode) as Doc. The series and feature film are based on Bill Myers' children's novels. The novels and films center about a brother and sister team Melissa Hunter (Kendra Thomas) and Sean Hunter (Hauer), two teenage sleuths and their on-air radio personality father (Richard Thomas). The older Thomas plays the part of a widower who instills good moral fiber in his children along with the occasional prayer.
Kendra Thomas and Craig Hauer are back as Melissa and Sean and the early word was that we could see Clint Eastwood appear in the role as Melissa and Seanís grandfather with Peter Falk and Angela Lansbury as the aunt and uncle. At the time of our conversation it was expected that Richard Thomas will reprise his role as the father.
The movie is moving into preproduction in May and June with shooting to begin in July and August. The on location work will be shot in Washington State. The feature film will be unveiled at Novemberís World Film Market in Santa Monica California.
When the filming for BloodHounds began, Kendra Thomas was just fifteen years old and Craig Hauer was sixteen. I asked Thomas if she was intimidated taking on her first ever acting role playing opposite her father. "It was never intimidating because I spent so much time with him on set (in other ventures). I love my dad and he's such a great guy. He has been nothing but encouraging. It was very encouraging to be on set with him because I knew if I had any questions I could ask him. He made me feel more comfortable. It was easier for me being put into the role of father-daughter. I could feed off of that because (in the show) he was acting as my father and then we would go home and he was my father. He was pretty hands off because he didn't want to intimidate me by telling me I was doing this wrong or that wrong. He left it up to me and made it very comfortable."
As she finished up her junior year at New York's Fordham College Thomas is contemplating a career in broadcast journalism. She is however looking forward to reprising her role as Melissa and the character will now be portrayed closer to her own age. She says of the earlier BloodHounds films "It was such a wonderful experience. I had been on sets with my dad before and I always loved it. To finally get in there and do it all (acting) myself it just made me go, 'Whoa this is what I want to be doing." She told me even though she is preparing for a career in communications she can't imagine ever doing something she enjoys more than acting. "It was such an incredible experience for us kids," she said.
Craig Hauer echoed Thomas' sentiments. He said of his role as Sean Hunter, "The BloodHounds series had a lot of stuff going on in it, goofy stuff, fun stuff, and also action. I have to say I had more fun on BloodHounds than anything I have ever done." This from an actor who was nominated in 1997 for Best Young Guest Actor-TV Drama Series by the Los Angeles Times for his role in 7th Heaven. Hauer says he particularly like the comedic relief provided by BloodHounds.
"Craig was really great. He and I had a really great chemistry. We had that brother and sister camaraderie going on. Even when the cameras weren't rolling we would go back into the trailers, hang out and talk. I loved Slobs (the dog) because I am very much an animal person. Even though he did tend to slobber everywhere he was very cute. Most of my time was spent with Craig and his mother," said Thomas.
While Kendra Thomas was a novice when it came to acting, Hauer started acting when he was seven years old. "My father used to be the transportation co-coordinator on Baywatch. (During vacation times) when I was younger I would wake up every other morning and go to work with my dad. Everyone on the crew was like a second family during those years. One day when I was on the set the creator came up to my dad and asked him what he thought about me doing a one liner part for the show. My dad said 'I don't know, ask him.' I said 'yes.' After seeing himself on TV, Hauer said he got the bug for acting. "My passion for acting has never changed. It is still going strong. I am hoping this is what I will be doing for the rest of my life," he said.
It was during my conversation with Silen concerning the bloodhound Slobs who is featured in the film that I got a real eye opener. She told me how the animal rights people were always around the set to ensure the two dogs used to portray Slobs were treated properly. My big surprise came when she informed me that the animal rights people also insisted that all the worms used in Invasion of the UFOS have their rights protected. "They had to be kept at a certain temperature and kept in a certain way. We could only keep them for so long and then we had to put them back and get new ones," said Silen.
Kendra Thomas, who is an animal lover, said of the Slobs dogs, "They were really well trained dogs. I found it frustrating because I always wanted to play and interact with the dogs when the cameras weren't rolling. They were professionally trained dogs and you (can't do that) because it would distract them."
Kendra Thomas said she is very interested in doing the feature film because, "It talks about issues that kids might not otherwise get a chance to hear about. I think if a child tunes into this they might say, "I should do something like this I should help my community (because of some of the qualities presented in the characters). I would like to be the bearer of that message because I believe in helping the community and being active."
Reflecting back to the Bloodhound DVD series which are going into national distribution she says, "They are such great stories. They are the kind of stories that kids can turn on and have a lot of fun. The kids solve mysteries and there is that family undertone which I loved. I always liked how close the brother and sister were. I think in reality a lot of kids aren't that close so I think they may come away from the TV and think, 'Hey I do have this phenomenal sister or brother that I need to spend a little more time with.' I know at the time (the films first came out) my little brother was four or five and he would get so much pleasure out of watching them. I think kids can take from them one great family experience, father, daughter, son, the dog and all the friends. There is a great sense of community in BloodHounds." It was undoubtedly these values that attracted the Family Network to air the films.
Silen described her films in this manner, "It is not in your face religion but cute comedy and action. It delivers moral and family values."
Recently Silen's Beverley Hills based company Marcia Silen Films entered into an agreement with Torchlight Entertainment who plan to present the feature film to the National Association Of Television Program Executives as well as screen it to other major film festivals. In fact this past January the BloodHounds, Inc series was presented at NATPE.
The DVD series is experiencing a bit of a renaissance with distribution agreements being signed with Big Game Ventures / Universal Music and Video Distribution.
The BloodHounds series was acknowledged by the film industry with two prestigious awards; The Dove Award and the Film Advisory Board's Award For Excellence. With some big name actors set to be announced for the feature film and with Kendra Thomas and Craig Hauer topping the list of returning cast members BloodHounds The Movie, Young Citizen Patriots promises to be a huge success.
By Joe Montague, exclusive