McDougal shoots Civil War epic “Dog Jack” In Illinois and Pennsylvania this summer

Edward T. McDougal is embarking on the biggest production of his twenty-year career. His new Civil War drama “Dog Jack,” featuring battle reenactments with hundreds of extras, shoots in Illinois and Pennsylvania for twelve weeks beginning in mid-May.

McDougal, who is directing and producing, adapted the script from the novel of the same name by longtime friend, Pittsburgh writer Florence W. Bios. Bios’ publisher, Sonrise Publishing, is financing the “low-budget” film.

The novel “Dog Jack” has come close to a film adaptation several times, including once with Disney.

“It got right up to the board?they call them the Seven Dwarves?and they passed on it,” McDougal said. “Disney hasn’t ventured into war films much.”

“I was watching ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ with my seven-year-old child the other night, and in the big battle scene the natives all emerged unscathed. The Civil War wasn’t like that. The trick is how to portray the war in such a way that children will take something meaningful out of it, without creating the impression that it’s a trip to Disneyland.”

“Dog Jack” is the story of a teenaged slave in Virginia named Jed, who witnesses his father’s death for aiding a Union soldier, and flees to Pittsburgh to join the soldier’s father, a Union army chaplain. Along the way Jed befriends the titular dog.

“It’s an adventure story about a boy and his dog, but it’s also about Jed coming to grips with the cruel treatment he received,” McDougal said.

“He wants to join up with the army and free his people. He faces the choice of whether to go into the war with vengeance and hatred, or find a way to fight in it for the right reasons. These are issues that our country is evaluating right now, whether there is anything worth fighting and dying for.”

Florence Bios has gathered a group of war reenactors to stage battle scenes over three weeks of shooting at the Fisher of Boys Retreat Center outside Pittsburgh. The remaining nine weeks are projected to shoot in Illinois, on the Panasonic SDX-900 24P DV camera.

“Dog Jack” associate producer is Josh Russell. McDougal is presently hiring department heads. Casting begins in March.

Glencoe-based McDougal, former owner of the rental house McDougal Chicago, has produced and directed a number of independent features and hour-long dramas for the Christian market, most recently “Prodigy,” released by Vanguard Films in 1999.

Three of McDougal’s films, “Never Ashamed” (1984), “Gold Through the Fire” (1987), and “Geronimo” (1990) were awarded Best Film by the International Christian Visual Media trade group.

McDougal’s first film, “Against All Hope” (1982) starred Michael Madsen (“Kill Bill”) in his screen debut.

McDougal taught film at Regent University Graduate School of Cinema in Virginia, and has conducted film seminars in Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, Nigeria, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine.

Reach McDougal at