Art imitates life in ‘Dolphin Tale’

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Director Charles Martin Smith says Winter was so social and animated that capturing her engaging behaviors on film was relatively easy. She enjoys human contact, which he says opened up a lot of possibilities for filming people in the water with her.

“I spent those first three days just walking around and learning about her,” Smith says. “She likes to carry toys around on her (nose), so I wrote that into the movie. She has a blue mattress that she likes to jump up on and float around on like a little kid, so I put that in the movie. She has this signature sound that she makes that they call a `tweety bird’ _ like a little high-pitched bird trill _ so I wrote that into the movie.”

Winter captivated everyone, including Freeman. The veteran actor plays the specialist who takes on the challenge of designing the new appendage for the tailless animal. Freeman had never even been near a dolphin before.

“Playing the doctor who was going to create the prosthesis for her, I had a lot of hands-on time with her,” Freeman said. “I remember one day early on when I felt we needed to get to know each other a little bit, so I coaxed her up to get some fish and keep her nearby where I could pet her and talk to her a little bit.”

The aquarium got a significant expansion thanks to the movie, after Smith decided he needed a nicer pool to film some of the water scenes. The other concrete tanks were left over from the aquarium’s previous life treating the city’s sewage. Yates says a second aquarium building is opening in downtown Clearwater that will display the movie props.

“It was like a dream come true getting her story out there, because she has such an amazing story,” says Stone, the trainer. “It was like the best thing that could ever happen to this facility.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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