Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog
Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog is a warm-hearted adventure/drama blended with humor and enhanced by breathtakingly beautiful photography of British Columbia. The story centers around fourteen year-old Angus McCormick and his family who run a shipping business along the shores of a remote and rugged area of the Canadian province. Mr. McCormick is determined that Angus and his younger brother, Silas, have a strong appreciation and respect for the wilderness. The family take field trips together so that Dad can instill in his sons survival techniques to have should the need ever arise. On one of these trips, they find a Golden Labrador, apparently lost in the woods. It is obvious from the first sight that this is a dog with character and intelligence and the McCormick's bring the dog home so that they might find the dog's owner. They send out "Found" flyers, notify the authorities and make every effort to locate "Yellow's" (as they have dubbed him) owner. In the meantime, Yellow is having a great time playing with the boys, and vice versa. When no owner materializes, Angus convinces his folks (even the initially reluctant Mom) to let him keep Yellow. Angus and Dad have been planning a boating trip together, leaving Mom and the much younger Silas at home so that Dad can focus on imparting some sage advice to Angus on becoming a skillful sailor. They also plan to test the seaworthiness of a small boat that Angus has built himself. Yellow eagerly joins them and there is a beautiful shot of Yellow standing on the deck of the boat as it glides serenely through the vast expansion of sea. The serenity is short-lived as the seas become increasingly choppy and it's obvious that they are in for some really rough waters. As Dad radios the Coast Guard, in an attempt to give them their location, the radio suddenly goes dead. Angus is concerned that his boat is not sufficiently secured and begs Dad to let him go on deck and check on it. Dad doesn't want Angus on the open deck with the sea so rough, but, seeing Angus' concern, permits him to go saying "Wear your life jacket". Angus is no sooner on deck than a giant wave envelopes their small boat, which capsizes. The scene switches to Dad being rescued from the hull of his overturned boat, but Angus is not there, nor is Yellow. An alert goes out. Angus is lost at sea and many rescue teams begin a futile search. The targeted area is vast with a very treacherous, rocky, jagged and mountainous coastline. The camera pans to a remote area of that coastline where Angus and Yellow are sitting in the small boat which Angus had made and which he used to get them safely ashore. What comes next will test every survival skill that Dad has taught Angus as he and Yellow embark on a life-threatening adventure, an adventure where they must face danger, battle the harsh elements, confront wild beasts, and endure hunger and exhaustion.
- Starring: Mimi Rogers, Bruce Davison and Jesse Bradford
- Director(s): Phillip Borsos
- Producer(s): 20th Century Fox
- Screenwriter(s): Phillip Borsos
- Release Date: Monday, November 07, 1994
- Rating: Acceptable
Featured Animal Action
Animal action focuses on Yellow Dog, played mostly by Dakotah, an immensely appealing Yellow Lab. Dakotah's performance is enhanced by four additional Labs, Schroeder, Auggie, Foster and Linus, each with their particular talent, plus an animatronic dog, all of whom portray Yellow Dog at some time during the film. The McCormicks first meet Yellow Dog while they are on a family junket in the woods. The dog sits peacefully, watching the family. For this first sighting of Yellow Dog the trainer merely instructed the dog to "sit, stay" with a food reward for his effort. When Yellow is playing ball with Angus and Silas, at one point, Yellow grabs the ball as the boys chase him through a line strung with freshly laundered clothing. Yellow jumps up against a sheet and all the clothes come down and are dragged across the ground. To achieve this, the trainer placed a squeaker toy on a sheet and the dog jumped for it. When the dog made contact with the sheet, the clothesline was rigged to come down. Yellow accompanies Angus while the boy delivers newspapers. At one of the homes they encounter a very aggressive Rottweiler on a chain. The dog starts barking and growling at Angus. Yellow attempts to defend Angus and is about to do battle with the Rottweiler when Angus distracts the Rottweiler by throwing a newspaper on the lawn, which the Rottweiler goes after. To get the normally mellow Rottweiler-actor in the mood for the scene, the trainer jumped around and waved at the dog until the dog responded to the bizarre antics of his trainer. Yellow accompanies Angus when he is playing in the woods. Yellow spots a pheasant and runs toward the bird. Just as Yellow gets close, the bird flies up out of harms way. This scene was shot in cuts. A trainer released the pheasant, which flapped it's wings and flew up. The dog never got very close to the pheasant, but as a safeguard, there were several people strategically placed out of camera range to rescue the pheasant, should there be a need. In addition to the beauty shot of Yellow standing on the deck, there are scenes of Yellow sliding back and forth with the motion of the boat. The scene was filmed on an actual boat on choppy waters. The trainer cued the dog to lie down and stay which he attempted to do with the boat rocking and the camera rolling. Yellow is next seen once Angus and he are ashore where they play and forage for food, such as digging for clams on the beach. In reality, rather than digging for clams, the dog-actor was digging for doggie snacks buried under the sand. While they are bedded down for the night in the make-shift shelter Angus has made for them, a tremendous storm approaches with heavy winds and lightning. (All movie made and controlled). They are awakened to find a wolf just inches away. The wolf snarls and appears ready to attack when Yellow attempts to chase the wolf and a fight ensues. The wolf was portrayed by two different wolves and the scene was done in cuts. It's difficult to make out much detail because of the darkness and the lightning flashing on and off throughout the scene. The first wolf, who snarls and appears ready to attack, was not menacing enough with any of the Labs, so they were replaced by Tyler,an Airdale-mix that the wolf does not like. The feeling was mutual with Tyler, so precautions were taken to insure there would be no chance the two would get together and actually fight. For the "fight", the unfriendly wolf was replaced by a hybrid, Tunny, a friend of the dog-actor, Linus. The two frequently play together, so much footage was taken of Linus and Tunny playing and romping together. This footage was edited down to make it appear as though the two were engaged in a realistic fight. The wolf is chased off and Yellow comes back to Angus. The wolf was merely running to his trainer who was holding a treat for him. Angus fashions a small make-shift trap in the hope of attracting an edible creature. A rat takes the bait and the small cage-like trap collapses around the rat as Angus and Yellow race to the trap to obtain a much needed meal. The trap was constructed in a humane fashion, similar to the Have a Heart trap which does not injure an animal. The scene then cuts to what appears to be the rat on a spit where Angus is barbecuing. Angus and Yellow share this very tiny meal. What was actually on the spit was tofu fashioned into the shape of a rat. Days pass and Angus and Yellow are sharing whatever food they can find. When a raven lands near the sleeping Angus, Yellow tries to catch him, but the bird flies away. This scene was filmed in cuts in much the same way as the prior scene with the pheasant, and there was no contact between the bird and the dog. Angus then resorts to insects as a source of food in his endeavor to survive. These scenes were filmed in cuts with real and fake insects. Angus mixes the insects with berries in an attempt to make the bugs more palatable and offers the concoction to Yellow, who looks away and refuses to eat it. Angus holds a worm in his hand which is coiled on his finger and then eats the creature. What the actor actually ate was made of crumbled brownies and bran muffins. To get the dog to react and refuse the mixture, a foul-smelling petroleum product was added. Disheartened at not being found, they leave their original encampment in an attempt to get home. They forge their way through difficult terrain where Angus is injured in a nasty fall, but he stoically continues. They come upon a body of water that must be crossed if they are to continue their trip. Although injured, Angus manages to make a raft to which he attaches a rope with a small log knotted at one end. Yellow pulls the raft by holding the log attached to the rope in his mouth and swimming. Foster, one of the photo-double Labs, was trained to do this scene weeks in advance of filming. A diver was under the raft moving and guiding it while Foster just swam holding the log in his mouth, not really pulling the raft. During filming, a veterinarian was present and Foster was dried off between takes. When they reach land again they come upon a Lynx who is feeding off the carcass of an animal that the Lynx has presumably hunted and killed. Yellow immediately takes off to get some of the food from the carcass as Angus tries to call Yellow back for his own safety. Yellow fights the Lynx off as the cat hisses and arches his back in an attempt to defend his meal. This scene was filmed in cuts and there was never any actual contact between the dog and the Lynx. This normally placid Lynx was not trained to hiss and arch its back, but just did it naturally while the camera was rolling. The "carcass" was a fake deer which had been stuffed with meat. The Lynx was tethered so that there was no chance of the cat attacking the dog. Angus has a brief moment of hope when he spots a light that appears to be coming from a small building high on a distant mountain. He and Yellow decide to get to it although it will be rough going climbing through the mountainous area. When they reach their destination, their hopes are dashed because it's an abandoned shelter and has no food or supplies and is so deteriorated it provides no shelter from the elements. Angus and Yellow leave the small structure, as it was pointless to stay, and they continue their journey. Yellow brings food to Angus in the form of a dead animal. In reality, what the dog brought was a fake rabbit. They next come to a barrier which will be the most formidable challenge of their odyssey. In order to continue their journey home, they must cross from one high cliff to another by way of a fallen tree which spans the dizzying gap between the two cliffs. The tree is one-hundred-fifty feet above a rapidly flowing river. Angus gathers his courage and attempts to cross the tree-bridge. Yellow is reluctant to cross it and waits on one end as Angus makes his way to the middle and calls to Yellow to join him. Angus gets Yellow to the middle by way of a make-shift safety harness that he has made for his beloved pet. Yellow carefully inches his way to Angus. Just as he reaches Angus in the middle of the bridge, a rescue helicopter appears overhead, spots them and begins their rescue. A rescuer comes down a rope which dangles from the hovering helicopter. He scoops up the weakened Angus, who is in very poor shape. Yellow, misunderstanding the rescuers intent, barks and sinks his teeth into the rescuer's leg and holds on as the trio are lifted toward the helicopter. Unfortunately, he loses his grasp and plummets toward the water far below. This was the most dramatic scene in the film. The scene was filmed in many cuts. Some of it was filmed at the actual location where, what appeared to be a fallen tree, was two steel girders covered over to look like a fallen tree. The girders spanned the 150 foot high cliffs. The girders had hollow areas inside where, unseen by the camera, wranglers could coach the dogs who had safety lines attached at all times. Several of the Labs were filmed for this scene and each was secured with a safety line whenever they were on or near the tree bridge. Only the animatronic Yellow was used for the long fall from the tree toward the water. Any filming involving the helicopter was done on a parking lot. The paved area of the lot below the helicopter was padded with huge blocks of foam three to four feet deep. It was at this location that the dog was filmed attacking the rescuer's leg which was padded, and also where the dog loses his grasp and falls, with the dog/actor falling just a few feet onto the very thick padding. Since this scene was shot in many cuts, they were able to film much of the rescue via the hanging rope without the helicopter being there and with the trio dangling from the rope which was attached to a stationary crane, not a helicopter. Dakotah did some of this scene, but the more aggressive Schroeder did most of the attack segment quite naturally with only a little verbal encouragement from his trainer. After the long shot of the animatronic Yellow plummeting toward the water, the film cuts quickly to a close up of Yellow landing in the water. This stunt was also performed by Schroeder, who jumped from a height of six to eight feet to fetch a ball his trainer had thrown into the water. Schroeder has been prepped for this stunt by jumping off a dock/platform into water. Of course, being a Lab, he was comfortable working in water. Additional footage was taken of him jumping onto a foam pad from a height of about three feet. In other animal action, in a scene that takes place very early in the film, Jesse and Silas chase a rabbit. The rabbit runs and sits in a bushy area as Angus takes out a sling shot and takes aim at the rabbit. He doesn't follow through because he is overcome with compassion for the rabbit. This scene was filmed in cuts. The rabbit was filmed separately from the two boys. The trainer called to the rabbit and coaxed it to move to the desired position by placing tasty tidbits of food in the key areas. In a scene where Angus and Silas are being taught wilderness survival methods, they are handed a rather large dead firefly. This was a fake insect. In a brief scene near the end of the film, a half dozen deer are seen foraging for food on the McCormick's property. These were semi-tame wild deer filmed in their natural environment.