Instinct had a key role in the success of two of China’s biggest box office hits, Wold Totem and Operation Mekong. With a combined total of over 1.8 Billion RMB it is clear Chinese audiences responded to the performance of the animal actors.
Instinct’s own documentary about their work with wolves titled ‘Wolves Unleashed’ earned a rating of 8.3 on DouBan.com and also screened on China’s CCTV. The companion book can also be found online. Instinct is the only Western animal training company to make an investment and commitment towards the Chinese film market. Instinct recently opened a Chinese branch called INSTINCT “本灵” and is welcoming new clients and projects.
“About 8 years ago we had plans to shoot a film about dogs. The budget was approved, the actors found, but the project was stopped because I could not find a reliable animal trainer. Then we began working on Operation Mekong, the storyline required a drug-detecting dog. Production was given directions to find a proper trainer, and they found “Andrew Simpson” through an online search. Not sure what to expect, we didn’t plan for very many dog scenes. Andrew came to Bangkok for the first part of shooting, the weather was very hot. To save time, I was only planning to shoot one scene with Xiaotian. I never expected he could be so clever and the shooting went very smoothly. Xiaotian brought so much energy to the film and without even thinking, I added several extra scenes with him in it. Once the film came out, Xiaotian, as a member of the drug-detecting team, received a lot of applause from the audience! Now and then, to this day I still think of Xiaotian, thanks to the expertise that Andrew brought us. Not only did he turn Xiaotian into a professional actor, but even after 8 years, I am still happy with the final story!”
I knew I wanted to use real wolves, and I knew I wanted 99% of what I shot to be with real wolves, not CGI wolves… What I did was pick the best wolf trainer in the world and convince him to live in China for several years.
Some of our credits in China.