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Chihuahuas keep the cameras rolling in L.A.

January 12, 2010 | 10:55 am

Chihuahu What is it with Chihuahuas?

Only a few months ago, "Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2," a direct-to-DVD sequel to the hit Walt Disney film, was shooting all over the L.A. area.

Now comes "Chihuahua: The Movie," another direct-to-DVD film, which began shooting in downtown this week.

The bare-bones film, produced for less than $1 million, is not another Disney spin-off, but comes courtesy of Santa Clarita-based Laguna Productions, a 15-year-old company that  produces and distributes urban Latino films in Spanish and English with titles like "Welcome Back to the Barrio" and "Bulletfighter."

With "Chihuahua: The Movie," Laguna is clearly branching into new territory, featuring a mostly non-Latino cast with a story it hopes will have broad appeal.

The film tells the story of a cranky and recently divorced woman who is forced to rethink her priorities when she wakes up in the body of a loving Chihuahua named Bella (it's actually a he and his real name is Peanut) who visits sick children in a hospital where she (he) is a therapy dog.

"It's a cute wholesome, family film,'' said Liz Lohof, a producer of the low-budget film, which will shoot at a restaurant on Melrose Avenue today before moving production to various locales in Van Nuys and the Culver City area.

So why another Chihuahua movie? "The cuteness of the breed and its popularity in film -- that's definitely a factor,'' Lohof said.

-- Richard Verrier

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