I am always on the lookout for anything that showcases ferrets in a good light. There are too many negative examples out there. So when I started seeing tweets from @Jake_and_Jasper asking if they should do a podcast about the film I had to know more.
I emailed Alison the film’s director and asked for an email interview which she graciously gave. Her excitement was easy to see in her words and I can’t wait until the film is completed and offered for sale.
With that said here is the interview.
EF: I've read the blurb about the movie and wonder how you came on the idea?
I'm a filmmaker, but I'm also a ferret owner, so I've always tried to include them in my film projects. My ferrets have been in several commercials for Marshall Pet Products and I also volunteered my services for a commercial for legalizeferrets.org which aired on TV in Los Angeles.
I had always wanted to do a film about ferrets, but didn't have an idea for a story. Then a few months ago I saw a short film made in Ireland that has the word ferret in the title (I don't want to promote it). I was SO excited - but severely disappointed.
In the film, the boy gets a ferret, but it's a working ferret that hunts rabbits, and the ferret ends up biting him on the nose. The father returns the ferret to where they got it. As soon as I saw that I KNEW I had to make a film about a boy and a ferret that showed ferrets in a positive light.
The boy in this film, Jake (Played by Connor Stanhope, "Smallville"), is struggling to cope with the death of his mother and retreats from his family and the world at large. He doesn't talk, doesn't smile, and gets into fights at school. His sister Jesse (Played by Laci Mailey) gives him a pet ferret named Jasper, and they develop a very strong bond. We'll see the ferret actually pry Jake from his shell and help him to smile, laugh and feel love again.
I love animal movies. They always make me cry. You're going to cry.
EF: From whose point of view is the movie? Jake's or Jasper's?
It's from Jake's point of view, but I think it would be great to make another film that is from the ferret's point of view. In fact, someone has already contacted me with a script idea for this. :)
EF: How old is Jasper the ferret?
Jasper, which is played by my ferret Falcor, is just over 1 year old. He's my little monkey man.
EF: Is Jasper the only ferret being used in the movie?
No. There will be body doubles! As any ferret owner knows, ferrets have one speed, one gear: GO! They go hard for a couple hours and then sleep. This is a problem when filming. I will be bringing my other ferret Frisco who looks identical to Falcor, to be used in any wide shots where we can't see the face close up. I'll also be putting the word out in Vancouver for dark sable ferrets to be used as backups. Ideally I'd like to have 10 or more ferrets as backups but we'll see what happens.
EF: What else can you tell us about Jasper and Jake?
I could go on and on! I'm so excited about this film! And it's been getting a tremendous response from the public, mainly ferret owners. If you watch the promo video , you may notice in the end credits that I dedicate this film to animal lovers and ferret parents (farents) around the world. I'm so tired of how ferrets are portrayed in the media. It's always negative. Either they're being shown as aggressive, being called rodents, stinky, etc, or the film only shows them for a few seconds. So here's a film now where the ferret is one of the main characters, and it shows the joy and love a ferret can bring to your life. There's going to be a montage in the film (because every film needs a montage!) that shows the bonding experience with Jake & Jasper; it will show Jake putting food and water in Jasper's cage, teaching him tricks, Jasper dragging his shoes around the room, etc. I'm really excited about that part. I also wanted to be sure to show a bit of the responsibility it takes to care for a ferret.
After a fight with his father, Jake runs away to a forest with Jasper where he will encounter many animals such as a skunk, a fawn, a black wolf, and more. Being an animal lover, this is a dream come true for me. It's also a dream role for Connor Stanhope, who just happens to be an animal lover as well. He's already developed a bond with Falcor in real life! But we need to raise $10,000 to fill the forest with these animals as they are very expensive, so hopefully we are successful with that. Anyone who donates will get a picture of their ferret in a special feature on the DVD, plus there are many more perks, like getting your name in the end credits, pre-ordered autographed DVD's, posters, and lots more. We have until August 12 2011 to raise the money. Here's the link for anyone who'd like to be a part of this special film: http://www.indiegogo.com/Jake-Jasper-A-Ferret-Tale
EF: Who is producing the film? Or is producer and director one in the same?
Director and Producer are not the same thing, but in this case it kinda is. Because this is a low budget film, I can't afford to hire people to do all the producing for me. So I do the bulk of it myself. However I've just brought on 2 other producers to help lighten the workload for me a bit!
EF: Where is the film going to/being made?
Our forest scenes will be filmed in Langley, BC, Canada. I haven't locked down the locations for the rest of the film but they will be in or around Vancouver, BC. The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place. Mountains, forests, ocean. It's perfect.
EF: What is your projected cost of making this movie?
Ask me tomorrow. Ha ha. It keeps going up as things move along and I come up with new ideas. I know it will be the $10,000 on the animals and animal wrangler alone. In addition to that, I have to rent equipment, pay for locations, permits, food for the crew, transportation, etc. This could easily be another $10,000. I'm currently trying to secure sponsorship for the film to help cover these costs. And that's only the production part of things. More money will be spent on post-production, but I'll be editing it myself to save money. I'm blessed to have an awesome cast and crew who are all volunteering. If it wasn't for them, there's no way this could happen. Special thanks to my camera department team Shawn Seifert (also the Director of Photography), Jesse Vance and Salo Saade. They work with me a lot and do a stellar job. They also don't complain about working with animals. They're used to it now. I reward them with chocolate and ice cream when I can. :)
EF: How long will it take to make the movie?
It will probably be about 4 days of filming. I haven't set the shooting dates yet but it will be shot at the end of August.
EF: Where will the first DVDs be released?
That is a loaded question, actually. We have to make the festival circuit first. I'll be submitting the film to film festivals around the world. After that, the DVD's will be released. Hopefully in stores, if we can get distribution. If not, I will be selling them independently online. Anyone who donates $25 or more to the film gets a pre-ordered DVD autographed by at least 1 cast member and myself. Please be patient though, as sometimes you can't submit to a film festival if the movie is already on DVD.
EF: I don't know much about film festivals other than Cannes what other ones are there?
There are thousands of film festivals all around the world. Cannes is definitely the biggest, but almost every city has its own festivals as well. Big ones that I may be submitting this film to include Slamdance, Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, Whistler, Victoria, etc. Getting selected at some of the festivals I just mentioned can even qualify a film to be considered for an Oscar nomination.
EF: Will those that donate get a % off of the price or just get to have pictures of their ferret(s) in the DVD?
$25 or more and they get a DVD for (free). I have to laugh about your question though. I think ferret owners would buy this DVD just to see their ferrets in the special feature ha-ha.
EF: Other than Twitter where else might we find information about Jake and Jasper: A ferret Tale?
Our official website is http://www.jake-and-jasper.com, our Facebook fan page is at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jake-Jasper-A-Ferret-Tale/178763242181186 and the IndieGoGo site where you can donate to the film is at http://www.indiegogo.com/Jake-Jasper-A-Ferret-Tale
EF: Can you break down how much it will cost for each animal you need for the forest scene? I saw on twitter that an owl is $135. Is that for the animal and handler?
Skunk = $1000,
Raccoon = $1000,
Black Wolf = $1000,
Bats = $1000,
Rabbit = $400,
Frogs = $100,
Fawn = $4500.
These prices all include the cost of an animal wrangler as well. The owl is actually $1000. What you saw on twitter is that we are $135 away from having raised enough for the Owl. As I write this, we've raised enough for the skunk, wolf, and rabbit.
I learned a lot from Alison about this film and I hope you will give the sites a visit and maybe help this film get made.
Have a Chittering good day,
Update: Just before posting Alison let me know that they raised the money for the owl and frogs and are now on their way to getting the raccoon.