Film Courage: Ten years ago I believe you visited The Cat House of the Kings?
Film Courage: Cat House on the Kings, sorry. So how did this wonderful sanctuary change your life?
Jack: Oh it was huge! You know we’ve talked about this…we had a feral cat. We’ve always had feral cats come to our house because we have lots of cats.
And a feral cat (a wild cat) will sense that cat people live there. And a feral cat obviously cannot be pet or touched or anything (they are wild animals). But we’ve done this over the years and we’ve fed feral cats. So I guess it was a little over ten years ago we were moving from out apartment and just as we were about to move a feral cat showed up and it was like feed me. And we were like Yes, of course we’ll feed you, but we’re moving. And we were faced with this prospect of like What are we going to do? This animal is dependent upon us now but we’re moving.
It got to the point where I was literally driving across town every day to leave food at this empty house. This cat was standing there (it was the saddest thing). It was like Where’s my food? I’m driving across town, I can’t keep this up. I can’t expect the new tenants to take care of him or whatever.
So I started looking into resumes and looking into that whole world of rescues and I became educated. I was like Wow? There are just tons of kill shelters. If you bring an animal to a regular shelter, they will be killed. Certainly a feral can never be adopted (rarely). What do you do with a feral cat?
And so after a lot of research I found this one place which I had never heard of The Cat House on the Kings which was this one woman’s massive property up near Fresno which she had turned this ranch style multi-acre property into this sanctuary and adoption center where she had almost a thousand animals that were totally cared for. It wasn’t a hoarder, it was like an operation.
And she was like Yeah, we actually have a feral section and if you can catch him, you can bring him here. And everybody else was like We’re full up and they’ll kill them. And this was the one place.
And when I went up there it was like one woman and one other person (or a couple) and all of these animals and it was like the definition to me of a saint. Here was this woman who had dedicated her whole life to these animals (literally) and it was like making it work. She definitely she needed help.
And I said to myself My God, what can I do in exchange for this? You saved this cat’s life and these thousands of other dogs and cats. So I decided to make this Youtube video. I said I’ll come back and do a portrait of you and the place for a couple of minutes and we’ll put it on Youtube. And this was when Youtube was sort of new and just as when luck would have it there were enough cat people out there that it started to go viral and people really saw that this was this beautiful soul that was doing something so unique and she started to get donations and she started to get more well known.
And now (10-13 years later) it’s considered…it’s a very well-known institution around the world. People come from all over the world to visit this place and support it.
So it’s a big part of SEARCH & RESCUE’s story. The ending of the whole movie actually happens at the Cat House, actually takes place at the Cat House. And I’m trying to talk Lynea Lattanzio (the proprietor) into actually playing herself in the movie if she’ll agree to do it because she’s such a character.
But yes the whole movie actually resolves at The Cat House.
Film Courage: Had you thought about what would have happened if you had moved one week earlier and never met that one cat?
Jack: I hadn’t really thought about that? It’s been such a…my wife has said It’s the most important film you’ve ever made was that film for The Cat House because (talking about direct action) that film, because it went viral, because I made it, because it exists and it reached people, that institution, that sanctuary received much-needed donations that saved a lot more animals. And so in terms of doing something that is valuable (truly valuable) that little film (when I think about it) was definitely up there in being an important movie of mine because it helped, it ultimately helped a lot of animals.
Film Courage: Do you know how many views that video has?
Jack: Well, I think now it’s well over a million views. But conversely I did this fun monster thing for Youtube years ago (Fear Force 5), that has 50 million views now. But the million and a half or whatever The Cat House has is way more valuable because that just means something in real world terms. There were a lot of animals that got saved because people gave because they saw the video.
Certainly SEARCH & RESCUE wouldn’t have evolved the way that it did because there is a cat component, a feral component and a rescue component to the story that is a thread in this crime story that is a direct result of my experience with The Cat House on the Kings and why I feel it’s appropriate to end the movie there even though there are gangsters and assassins and pornographers and all this other stuff in the movie, it ultimately ends at The Cat House which is like the sweetest place on earth.
Check out Jack’s Indiegogo Campaign for SEARCH & RESCUE
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We are making this film because animals can not speak for themselves and we see it as our duty to give them a voice. We want as wide an audience as possible to stop and think about how animals are systematically mistreated, and to take action. We will accomplish this by creating a meaningful and entertaining story that doesn’t preach or shame, but leaves a lasting effect on its viewers. Check out the Indiegogo page here for more information on SEARCH & RESCUE movie.
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