Working with children and animals

There’s an old saying, often quoted in relation to working in tv, saying “Never work with children or animals” – the last month or so, we’ve found ourselves doing both!

Cats Protection approached us earlier this year to pitch for a film to support their latest campaign. The Government is reviewing the law governing the sale of pets for the first time in over 60 years and Cats Protection wants better safeguards for the commercial sale of all types of cats. As we researched the film, we learnt that the true cost of buying a kitten can be the heartbreak of buying one  that becomes sick – and in some cases dies – and then facing significant vet bills.

Using kittens in many of the shots, allied with a child stroking a cat early in the film would clearly tug at emotional heartstrings. However, working alongside the charity in developing the production, we wanted to keep the film balanced, to provide clear information as to why regulation is needed, along with a personal story to illustrate this. Having access to the vet at Cats Protection to provide a clear, authoritative voice for the film was also very useful.

Cats Protection filmingNot to say the filming was without it’s problems! The kittens didn’t seem to understand my clear direction, or maybe I wasn’t speaking the correct ‘cat’ language. Quite some time was spent cramped into a small pen, trying to get the one shot that we wanted for the opening and closing of the film. We’d storyboarded a shot with a kitten on a white background that we could use to blend into the titles, but for ages, none of the kittens seemed to want to stay still enough for the 5 seconds I wanted; anyhow, as the film below shows, we eventually got there. Likewise, the shot with the young boy and a kitten took a while as the kitten kept digging her claws in and trying to run away!

This film represents a bit of a departure from our normal charity filmmaking – we’ve not worked directly with animal charities before. However, we were able to bring our expertise of crafting charity films, understanding audiences, messaging and clear calls-to-action to produce a film that the charity were very happy with.

Jacqui Cuff, Advocacy Manager at Cats  Protection said that “Phil and his team at Purple Flame embraced the challenge of filming kittens (and their owners) with creative flare, pragmatism and professionalism. I was impressed how quickly the team understood the messaging and exactly what we wanted to portray...”

Here’s the final film:

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