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The Cruelty of Dog Fighting

Michael Killen and Jim Kreitzburg, the animators behind Taco Bell's talking Chihuahua and the California Cheese cows, created this moving PSA about the cruelty of dog fighting....

Notes from Michael Killen:
I was driving into work one morning listening to the story unfolding regarding Michael Vick's involvement in dog fighting. The more they talked about what goes on, even beyond Michael Vick, I couldn't believe it.
It was hard to keep this kind of story away from my children, particularly my daughter Erin who is 9 and passionate about animals of all kinds. Seeing as my company is called Animal, what could I do?I wanted my daughter Erin to be involved. She was so moved by reading the script that she began to cry. Her fourth grade teacher allowed her to take the day off from school to be a part of the shoot. Erin did a presentation to the class about her experience.
A little background on who we are is that my partner Jim Kreitzburg and I are responsible for animating the Taco Bell Chihuahua, all of the California Cheese Cows, the Taco Bell Lions and much more.
What if we did a commercial speaking from the perspective of the dogs? We could actually do that. That's what we do. So I spoke with Kathy Dziubek, partner and executive producer, and we decided that we would reverse the normal process and call on an agency, instead of them calling us.
We called two of the partners of Smith Brothers Advertising, Lindsey and Bronson Smith. We do a lot of work with them and respect their creative approach to things. We gathered together and discussed the best way to tackle this. One thing we all agreed upon was to keep it serious but not use any violent footage. We wanted to make people think.
It was determined that Cathy Bowen, senior writer at the Smith Brothers, would write the script. Cathy intensely researched the subject. She came back to us a week or two later with a beautiful poignant script. Every one of us read it and said, "We have it." Cathy nailed it. We had to make this happen.
Nancy Richert, Animal's producer put the shoot together asking for favors all the way. She has a lot of experience hiring animals for shooting. We all decided to find breeds of dogs that are typically used for fighting. She found them. One dog, "Cookie" is a rescued fighting champion and "Dena" was rescued before she began her career.
The shoot went well. All the dogs cooperated, some more than others. Erin was in charge of bringing the dogs to set and to pet them as often as they needed. Some of these dogs are huge, but as Erin said they're all puppies inside.
In post, we recorded all of our own voices – people from the Smith Brothers, Market Street Sound and Animal. Beth Voltz, editor at Animal, then took all this footage and an abundance of voice recordings and put together a very tender edit. The only piece missing was the music. We expected to use some needle drop music but it just wasn't right. Rob Deener of Market Street Sound said to give him a day. He came back with a guitar piece that he wrote and performed that night. It was perfect.
So all that was left was to animate the dogs. Jim Kreitzburg and I talked about how subtle we needed to be. This isn't comedy. This was to be real. We put great effort into making sure you believe what the dogs are saying and feeling.
We hope that the efforts all of the people involved comes across. What we all want to do is to send the message out there that using an animal in a cruel way for sport should never happen. We need to find a way to end this.
Thank you for watching our spot and reading this.
Please do what you can.
Michael Killen

This entry was posted on Friday, May 15, 2009 at Friday, May 15, 2009 and is filed under , , , , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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