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Lonely Dog Brought to Life in Stunning Production

Written by Jenny McLeod

Prominent Queenstown landscape artist Ivan Clarke’s Lonely Dog character and the vibrant fantasy world he lives in is being brought to life in a multimedia immersive event, the result of a collaboration between American and Italian production companies.

Producer Cliff Dew, president of Jumping Frog Entertainment USA  says they have combined with Centria of Italy, who are recognised pioneers in creating art immersive experiences, and production is now one year on.

He says the Lonely Dog Immersive Experience features “brilliant storytelling, dazzling visuals, captivating music, reflecting a style that celebrates the nostalgia of the 1950s and the line-up of production partners draws on an international talent base from Italy, UK, USA, Mexico and New Zealand.”

“Lonely Dog is an unconventional character and brand that appeals equally to a younger audience and adult demographics. Its imagery and storytelling strike a chord with everyone and sparks their imagination. Animated paintings are being combined with 3D CGI animation, traditional 2D animation and scored with original music. The entire production will be presented as an immersive cinematic event, featuring 360-degree projection and sound that will literally envelop the audience.”

Ivan Clarke created Lonely Dog some years ago and has produced more than 200 works of art featuring Lonely Dog, his cohorts and the whimsical land of Alveridge they inhabit. Warner Brother Studios acquired the movie rights in 2009.

Manager of the Ivan Clarke Queenstown Gallery Wilma Nehoff says “the story is often told about how Ivan created Lonely Dog almost by accident, after looking back at his dog as the family left him behind to go on holiday. That kernel of an idea continues to blossom into an incredible universe of entertainment that none of us could ever have imagined.”

Ivan says when he was originally approached by Jumping Frog Entertainment he had never heard of an art immersive.

“It sounded gimmicky but with what I have already seen in production I’m blown away. I’m thrilled although I am yet to experience it in a huge exhibition space but I am assured it will be something to behold as there have been no other immersive events like this.”

“Viewers will have surprise discoveries such as being transported under the seas witnessing hounds clad in dive suits whalemilking. We will also experience a night-time journey of the Lunar Express, cloud surfing in a giant vintage steam powered seaplane complete with billiard room and coal shovelling stoker hounds.”

“ I recently experienced the Van Gough Alive Immersive in Christchurch that’s currently touring New Zealand and was impressed.”

None of the original Lonely Dog paintings have been sold and they are retained in Ivan’s private collection which is showcased in the Queenstown art gallery. There are also published art works  consisting of a limited edition of giclee prints, drawings, sculptures, puzzles and books which all have a significant fan following worldwide.

The Lonely Dog character and icon is licensed to a growing number of consumer items globally and construction has recently begun for the first of a Lonely Dog themed restaurant/ smokehouse chain. The first is opening beside Lake Geneva Illinois in 2022. 

 “They know what they are doing and I think the Lonely Dog theme pairs perfectly. Each restaurant is being designed and built rustic, bricks and mortar from the ground up with spacious car parking and beer and BBQ gardens,” says Ivan. “ The Iconic ‘Lone Star’ restaurant here in New Zealand, which has been a family favourite, is inspiration enough. Instead of John Wayne and Elvis, why not decorate the walls with fictitious Houndish characters and posters advertising their Lonely Dog world”.

Centrica Creativity

Art Centrica are world leaders in producing immersive events, and have bought to life the artworks of DaVince, Rafael and Michael Angelo along with other famous Ufficci renaissance art collections.

The Lonely Dog production is employing a frame-by-frame animation technique that makes the paintings come alive with motion.

CEO Marco Cappellini says they are proud of their work on the production. 

“We are employing technology, creativity and know how previously used mainly on classical Renaissance art. Our unique ability to create gigapixel images and then creatively use them in an immersive environment will provide significant added value to the production.”

Exodo Animation

Exodo Animation Studios is responsible for morphing the Lonely Dog characters into life-like, lovable animated creatures.

“A diverse array of artists has been working on capturing the magic of Alveridge and translating it into a 3D world where endless possibilities await our heroes as they take the audience on the adventure of a lifetime,” says spokesman Paco Navarro. “The excitement surrounding this project is palpable. From concept art to production every department has welcomed Lonely Dog with open arms, working tirelessly with Cliff Dew (Jumping Frog Entertainment) to infuse the world of Lonely Dog and all its inhabitants with the fascinating feel of Ivan Clarke’s paintings.”

Music driving force

Music director for the Lonely Dog Immersive Event Geoff Pearlman considers music is the central theme and driving force behind the story of Lonely Dog.

“Working on the project has presented unique song writing challenges. Lonely’s songs carry his story and drive his narrative and their importance cannot be overstated.”

Geoff, who is an independent artist, producer, songwriter and guitarist, is also scoring the production and has recently completed the Lonely Dog audio book with music narrated by master Irish storyteller Steve McCurdy.

“Lonely Dog is an unconventional character and brand that appeals equally to a younger audience and adult demographics. Its imagery and storytelling strikes a chord with everyone and sparks their imagination.”

Geoff, recently performed alongside Jakob Dylan in the Greenwich Films/BMG records’ ‘Echo in the Canyon’ documentary featuring Ringo Starr, Tom Petty, Eric Clapton and Neil Young along with an impressive old school line up of musicians.

Masterpiece applauded

Award-winning British promoter producer and director Christopher Palmer-Jeffery, responsible for the annual Cathcart Spring proms, HRH Queens Golden Jubilee celebrations and HRH Lady Diana memorial concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall, describes the Lonely Dog Immersive Event production as a masterpiece. 

“I was very fortunate in the early ‘90s to be introduced to Ivan Clarke and since that time I’ve kept a watchful eye on how the Lonely Dog has matured and come of age. It’s simply stunning to see what the collaboration between the Italian Centrica and Cliff Dews team in the United States have now done.  They’ve produced a masterpiece, a stunning experience that creates magical moments and, in my view, makes dreams come true”.

About the author

Jenny McLeod