Interview with the filmmaking team of the feature film “Rescue Story – Saving Companion Animals”

“Rescue Story – Saving Companion Animals” played to rave reviews and was the winner of BEST FEATURE FILM at the March 2021 NEW YORK FEEDBACK Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Kimberly & Brian: (Executive producers and owners of Conscious Content)

At Conscious Content our passion is to create education and awareness on issues that matter to Humanity. We love our companion animals whom which have been massively supportive during all of our projects and help keep us full of gratitude and in a creative frame of mind even through these difficult times. We are very proud of this film and appreciate our relationships that were built sharing this message about companion animals. Our hope is that the film and relationships create more awareness and bring much needed funding to an issue that needs it so dearly.

Dan (Director): Millions of companion animals are euthanized each year, and as animal lovers, this has always been a meaningful issue to our team. Most of us have rescue animals of our own. We also have done a number of videos with Happily Ever After in the past. So when Conscious Content got behind making a film about rescuing companion animals, it seemed like the ideal moment to get all hands on deck to make a great film, to both tell HEA’s story, and expand the issue to save as many animals as possible.

Josh (Producer): We’re proud owners of Rescue Animals. Our companions have always been a really big part of our life. As we’ve travelled all across the world we’ve seen first hand the range of issues that face shelters and animal treatment. When we first began partnering with Happily Ever After No-Kill Animal Sanctuary back in 2014, we were enlightened to the positive efforts being made by non-profits and community driven action. We were hooked and have been doing our part to be a force in the movement ever since.

Max (Cinematographer): I have been working with Conscious Content on filming multiple projects. They always have a great eye for how to coordinate great people to get different messages across in an educational and insightful manner. When it came time to help animals and go visit a lot of shelters it was a no brainer to help out.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Dan (Director) Pre production to finish on this film I would say took about 2 years, give or take. However, this doesn’t count all the time we spent with happily ever after before this film, which definitely built our relationship, as well as taught us about the nature of the animal welfare business, which would prove invaluable when the time came to make this film. So it depends how you look at it.

Josh (Producer): Rescue Story: Saving Companion Animals began it’s pre-production in January/February 2019, we began production in July 12th, 2019. We finished our last shoot in California on December 13th, 2019. Our editing staff worked on the post-production side of things until about April/May 2020, that’s when it went out to festivals and has been out in the circuit ever since.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Kimberly & Brian: (Executive producers and owners of Conscious Content): There’s always Hope!(3 words) lol

Josh (Producer): Sanctuary and Hope

Dan (Director): Saving Animals!

Max (Cinematographer): Too cute!

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Kimberly & Brian: (Executive producers and owners of Conscious Content): Funding to complete any film can be challenging so we decided to really dig deep for the mission to help the animals and we were able to secure funding and build relationships with others who understand the mission and it’s importance.

Dan (Director): Our biggest obstacle was that nobody who represented a difficult situation regarding euthanasia wanted to talk to us. Most of the organizations with the highest euthanasia rates didn’t want to talk to us for fear they would be misrepresented; portrayed as the bad guys. I don’t think we would have overcome this obstacle without the help of HEA, who had a prior relationship with some organizations in Texas with these struggles, and were able to bridge this gap.

Josh (Producer) We’re still learning a lot about the distribution process. We’re proud that we have sharpened our resolve to finish projects from start to finish consistently, but as an independent production studio, there’s a lot more to learn and more uphill challenges to work through.

Max (Cinematographer): I would definitely say filming the scenes where the shelter animals go when there is no room left for them at the shelters. Seeing all the animals that couldn’t be helped was so tragic.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Kimberly & Brian: (Executive producers and owners of Conscious Content): It made us emotional and we thought it was impactful to have so much diversity in the viewers and yet we were again reminded of how much we all have in common in a world where we are continually told of our differences. We all are Capable of love.

Josh (Producer): Honestly, I was blown away. It really meant a lot to hear such praise from total strangers who saw our work. Not only were there tons of compliments about the technical aspects (which we of course work so hard to make quality) but it was powerful to hear that it truly affected so many people directly. This film has a chance to start a wave of education and compassion. The responses from the audience gave me goosebumps.

Dan (Director) We nailed it! I was so happy that people loved our message and understood what we were trying to say!

Max (Cinematographer): We had a premiere in Green Bay, WI and the turn out was amazing! Everyone really learned a lot and that the shelters were only responding to the bigger problems in the animal welfare issue.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Dan (Director): Both I, and the rest of the team, have always been animal lovers l, and rescuing companion animals has been a subject that we have done a number of videos about in the past. It just felt like a great idea to expand upon some of the themes we had explored before, but in a deeper way.

Josh (Producer): I think all of us at Conscious Content, Shaman Motion Pictures, and our friends at Happily Ever After have a deep love and attachment to our companion animals. We brainstormed our most pertinent issues as a collective that we wanted to film and cover and it was no surprise that this topic made the final cut. We’re proud of the film and hope it can become an important educational piece as we all work to reform the standing of companion animals in our modern society.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Josh: I love this question. Probably more times than any other movie, I’d have to say I’ve watched Monty Python and The Holy Grail more than any. I had a DVD copy as a kid that I’d sometimes even watch on repeat.

Max: I’m a huge fan of classic 80s movies like The Monster Squad!

Kimberly: The Devil Wears Prada, I lived that life and watching in on screen gave me strength to evolve to be my own boss

Dan: Star Wars: A New Hope

Brian: Pulp Fiction, I am a fan of serious subjects with a dry sense of humor and those who are paying attention, get it!

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

Josh (Producer): FilmFreeway is excellent because it is so universal. I really enjoy that it gives us access to festivals big and small, from Oscar qualifiers to development festivals we really have many options at our disposal. It would be really cool if in time it connected with a live marketplace or distribution hub as well. If films that are listed on film freeway could also connect with purchasing agents and content acquisition teams then the site could become even more valuable to DIY filmmakers like us.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Kimberly: Bridge over Troubled Water, growing up my parents were huge music listeners, it was on replay in the house for years

Brian: Anything U2, albums on replay for decades

Max: I am a huge fan of They Might Be Giants and Birdhouse in your Soul is always a great song!

Dan: Basket Case – Green Day

(I’m not sure by the numbers if this is right, but it was the first song I thought of, so I wrote it down)

Josh: The World At Large – Modest Mouse

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Kimberly & Brian: We are super excited to share all our content and the content many other content creators on our newest project, the Conscious Content Network.

Josh (Producer): We’re really excited to see all of the Conscious Content Films get released. There’s 3 more in the pipeline – Tethered, The Workplace Garden, and Water We Doing? I’m definitely personally most excited for Water We Doing? – It’s an inspiring message to the next generation of clean technology scientists as we work to globally combat the water crisis. The environmentalism advocacy will be a big part of Shaman Motion Pictures’ future.



By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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