Director & Writer Mitch Davis Talks About How the New Movie "The Stray" Inspires Families

The Stray

Struck Films, Purdie Distribution and Motive Entertainment announce the upcoming release of The Stray, a heartwarming family film written and directed by Mitch Davis (The Other Side of Heaven) based on a screenplay by Parker Davis with Ken Brailsford executive producing. Set for release in select markets in the United States on October 6, 2017, The Stray tells the true story of how one stray dog impacts a struggling family.

That stray dog is "Pluto" who comes out of nowhere and quickly makes himself at home with the Davis family, which is on the brink of falling apart. Dad (Michael Cassidy; ArgoBatman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice), is a career-driven personality who's neglecting his marriage and family. Mom (Sarah Lancaster; EverwoodThe Judge) is at her wit's endraising three young kids. The last thing they need is another mouth to feed. Or is it?

In just a short time with the Davis family, Pluto the "wonderdog" manages to save a lost toddler, bring comfort and companionship to a hurting 9-year- old boy (Connor Corum; Heaven is for Real), help restore a marriage, and repair a broken father-son relationship. Pluto is not only a guard dog - he's a guardian angel.

The Stray received the Dove Family Approved seal for its portrayal of positive values and is a film you can take your entire family to see. "The Stray is a heartwarming family movie that  is wonderfully entertaining, while teaching about love for a pet, love of family and making time for family," said Donna Rolfe, Dove Foundation.

We are honored to catch up with writer and director Mitch Davis.

 Q:  Mitch, thank you doing this interview with us.  For the sake of some of our readers who may not know much about the movie, in your words, what is STRAY about?

The Stray tells the true story of a family who saves a stray dog, only for that stray dog to turn around and save them, both spiritually and physically when some of them are struck by lightning. 

Q:  This movie is actually based on your own life.  Why did you decide to tell your own story via the widescreen?

This story has been living in our family for almost 30 years.  Our youngest son, Parker, was the only one of our children who was not alive when it happened and he grew up hearing stories about Pluto the Wonderdog and our brush with lightning.  He is a screenwriter and came to me over a year ago telling me he wanted to write a script about our family experience.  Until that moment, I had never considered telling this story on the big screen.  So he went off and wrote the script and, when he brought it to me, I realized it could be a compelling, inspirational movie.

Q:  Who are some of the actors and actresses in the movie?  

Michael Cassidy plays me.  He's a great actor who is starring right now in a TV series called "People of Earth."  He was also in "Batman Versus Superman" and "Argo."  He's really a fantastic guy, friendly and outgoing, and very natural on film.  He did a fantastic job playing me, made me look cooler than I am.  

Sarah Lancaster had the awesome responsibility of playing my wife and she handled it with great grace.  She just has a natural maternal spirit about her throughout the film.  I think that may be because she was expecting her second child while filming with us.  Sarah has done a number of feature films including "The Judge" with Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Junior.  She also had a big role in the TV series "Chuck".

Connor Corum plays the role of our oldest son, Christian.  Connor played the young lead in "Heaven is For Real" opposite Greg Kinnear.  He was fantastic to work with, a real pro.

Q:  Tell us about Pluto.  What kind of a dog is he?  Were you a dog lover before you met Pluto? 

I grew up having dogs and always appreciated their soothing, loving presence.  So, when things started to get really stressful for us in Los Angeles, it was natural for me to suggest we get a stray dog.  My wife shut me down cold but joked that she might consider a dog if a stray happened to show up.  Which is exactly what happened a short time later.  I mean, Pluto just followed our oldest son home from school, plopped down in the middle of our family, and set about fixing everyone and everything.  He felt like sort of an angel in that way.  I have always loved dogs but my connection to Pluto was special.  I felt a great debt of gratitude to him for showing up when he did and helping in the ways he helped.  

The real Pluto was a Pointer mixed with probably a Labrador.  Brown and white with big brown eyes.  The movie Pluto was a brown and white Border Collie named Shiloh, a very smart and skilled acting dog.

Q:  You are not only the writer of the movie script, but also the director.  What was most exciting for you in directing this movie?  

I co-wrote the script for the movie with my youngest son, Parker, so I got to mold it to how things really were in our family at the time these true events took place.  Then I got to direct the scenes I had co-written.  And it was really a remarkable experience, almost sacred, in a way, to be able to remember dramatic things that happened in our young family and try to recreate them in a way that has the potential to be kind of a permanent record.  It was really a special experience.

Q: What do you think families will take away from this movie?

I hope families will be remind that they are what it's all about; that family matters above all else.  And I hope young mothers and fathers will be encouraged by the idea that, hey, young family life is hectic.  It's all happening at once.  The kids, the career, the mortgage.  And yet, in the midst of that whirling hurricane of competing priorities and frantic family life, something very beautiful is happening.  In fact, the most beautiful thing of all is happening.  Families are where it's at.  And sometimes heaven moves to help families remain intact against all odds.  An angel might even show up disguised as a stray dog.


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