September 29, 2011

Dolphin Winter Plays Herself in Family Adventure "Dolphin Tale" (Opens Oct 5)

A heartwarming, fun adventure about the healing bonds of family, both human and animal, Warner Bros.' “Dolphin Tale” introduces the screen's cutest, most adorable mammal star yet – the dolphin Winter.

In the film based on real events, a young dolphin is caught in a crab trap, severely damaging her tail. She is rescued and transported to the Clearwater Marine Hospital, where she is named Winter. But her fight for survival has just begun. It will take the expertise of a dedicated marine biologist, the ingenuity of a brilliant prosthetics doctor, and the unwavering devotion of a young boy to bring about a groundbreaking miracle.
Playing the title role—as only she could—is Winter herself. Director Charles Martin Smith recounts, “When we were prepping, there was the obvious question of how to depict Winter. Because of the distinctive side-to-side wiggle that she developed to swim, which is also integral to the story, the best solution was to use the real Winter. The results were above and beyond our expectations.”

Before Winter could make her film debut, the production needed the cooperation of her real-life “family” at Clearwater Marine Aquarium or CMA, which came with certain ground rules. The CEO of the Aquarium, David Yates, confirms, “I had many conversations with Charles and the producers because, first and foremost, I had to protect Winter; we wanted it to be a positive experience for her. They also had to understand who we are and what we’re about because they were pretty much going to be dropping into the middle of our operations, and we had to make sure we didn’t, in any way, put any of our animals at risk. From day one, they all said, ‘This is your call; whatever you say is how it’s going to be done.’ It turned out to be a fantastic partnership.”

Protecting Winter, as well as the other animals who call CMA home, was also imperative to the filmmakers. Producer Broderick Johnson attests, “In certain scenes, we incorporated some CGI and animatronics because Winter’s safety came first. But, whenever possible, what you’re seeing is her because the true essence of this amazing animal could only be conveyed by Winter herself.”

The filmmakers made another important decision to better capture Winter’s habitat on the screen. Says Smith, “There are two environments in this movie: one on land and another underwater. I wanted a way to pull people into that second world, so we decided to shoot the film in 3D. In the opening sequence, where we meet Winter swimming free in the ocean with her pod, it gives you the sense of gliding through the water with the dolphins. The ability to share that with audiences was the main benefit of 3D. And I tried to recreate that feeling later in the movie, when Sawyer swims with Winter.”

Producer Andrew Kosove concludes, “I think one of the best things about this film is that moviegoers can meet and fall in love with Winter, as we all did.”

Without exception, the human cast of “Dolphin Tale” did fall in love with their aquatic co-star. “I was looking forward to getting to work with Winter,” Morgan Freeman says. “I know she’s the real star of the movie, so I just tried to ingratiate myself,” he laughs.

Opening across the Philippines on Oct. 5 in 3D and regular theaters, “Dolphin Tale” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

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