Didier: when the film’s dog trainer talks behind the scenes

25 years ago, Alain Chabat caused a sensation with “Didier”, his first film as a director. For the occasion, he was able to count on Patrick Pittavino, a dog trainer who was of great help during the filming of the film.

Didier : We do not smell the ass.

Revealed by the Canal+ channel via his famous comic trio Les Nuls, Alain Chabat wishes to continue his momentum in cinema after his solid appearances in The City of Fear and Cursed grass. Thus, he realizes and writes Didier, his first feature film in 1997.

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The pitch? Completely goofy. Indeed, Didier follows Jean-Pierre, a football agent who comes to watch his friend’s dog one evening. Only, during the night, the Labrador takes on a human appearance…while retaining his doglike characteristics. The cohabitation between the two will prove to be complex.

Didier ©AMLF Chez Wam

Despite a completely twisted scenario, Didier becomes a cult film that brings together nearly 3 million spectators in French cinemas, making it one of the biggest French hits of 1997. In addition, Alain Chabat was awarded the César for Best First Film. Not bad for a novice director.

Meeting with Didier’s trainer

If the film has a great cast (Jean-Pierre Bacri, Alain Chabat, Isabelle Gelinas, Zinedine Soualem etc …), we must not omit the valuable contribution of Patrick Pittavino behind the scenes of Didier. Indeed, the dog trainer first made sure that everything went well between Elliot (the labrador present in the feature film) and the rest of the technical team.

Something that was not easy because Alain Chabat expected a lot from the canine. As Patrick Pittavino related in the magazine SoFoot, the choice of Elliott was not made at random, far from it:

Alain had no precise idea of ​​the type of dog he wanted to have. He was introduced to dogs who already had a certain background in the cinema. But, even if he didn’t have anything specific in mind, he knew what he wanted, he wanted a look, a dog that marked. He was therefore presented with about 5 or 6 dogs, but none of them pleased him. That’s when I thought about introducing him to Elliot and he immediately said, “Ah yes, it’s him, it’s him!As soon as he saw it, it clicked. He didn’t care if it was this or that race, it could have been a Dalmatian just as well, it didn’t matter at all. He wanted a face, a face, facial expressions, a crush what.

It was also when he chose the “Didier” that he wanted Chabat was able to reproduce all his gestures and facial expressions. Pittavino also states that the latter constantly wanted Elliot by his side on the set.

In the rest of the interview, Pittavino also talks about his meeting with Elliot, which was just as incredible:

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At the time, I had a herd of dogs that worked for the cinema and I had a training center in Épinay-sur-Seine. One day one of the guys who came with their show dogs told me about another dog that belonged to a friend of his sister. He tells me : “One of my sister’s friends plays at PSG and he bought a labrador. The dog is 5 or 6 months old, but since he is going to sign for Porto, he would like to part with him. The guy is Ricardo, if I remember correctly. (…) I immediately felt that this dog had a trick, a look, a way of standing. A bit like when Chabat actually saw him. (…) The dog of a PSG player who made a film about PSG. We went to the Parc des Princes with him and everything. It’s incredible.

Chabat’s crazy requests

If Didier’s script is itself completely twisted, Alain Chabat’s demands on his trainer were no less so. Indeed, during the interview Patrick Pittavino drops some amusing “files” on the director’s requests so that certain sequences are as authentic as possible. For example, the one he absolutely wanted Elliott to sneeze into. However, the craziest (and most hilarious) anecdote is undoubtedly the one during which Chabat would have asked the trainer to find him panties specially made for female dogs in heat:

It was morning and he needed that for the scene we were shooting in the afternoon. There, I look at Robert Kéchichian and I say to him:But what the hell are we gonna do?And he replies that in a street in the neighborhood, there was a dog groomer. So, we both go, but lack of pot, the groomer no longer existed. Well, we still saw a women’s underwear store not far away and we went there.

We then take a chance, except when the woman arrives to see what we wanted, this motherfucker breaks and he acts like he’s not with me (laughter)! So I went there alone, I said to the lady in the shop: “Don’t take me for a fool, don’t be afraid, but we’re shooting a movie next door and I could use pink panties to put on a female dog“. Finally, we found what we needed and Alain died of laughter.

Since this grueling but immensely funny shoot (according to Pittavino), the director and the trainer have continued to work together, notably on Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, or even On the Marsupilami’s trail. As for Elliot, he was able to make two more films. As Patrick Pittavino points out, he is unfortunately no longer of this world today.

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