(Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania--June 17, 2008) Creative director Michael Killen of visual effects commercial production company Animal was driving into work one morning listening to the then- breaking and shocking story about NFL star Michael Vick’s involvement in dog fighting and horrendous accusations of animal cruelty.
Killen reflected on the impact the story would have on his children, particularly his young daughter, Erin, who is a passionate lover of all animals.
With a company named Animal, known for making animals speak via the magic of animation, Killen felt compelled to do something on behalf of dogs that are suffering and tell their story in a way that would touch people on a personal level.
He and his partner Jim Kreitzburg made a name for Animal by realistically animating, among numerous television ad campaigns, the speech of the Taco Bell Chihuahua and the California Cheese Cows in a humorous series of famous and widely popular TV spots. What better way to give dogs subjected to illegal dog fighting a voice than to create a spot where they dramatically told their stories from their own perspective?
Killen consulted with partner and executive producer, Kathy Dziubek, who loved the idea immediately, and together they decided to reverse the usual business process and approach an advertising agency for their help. Having done a lot of work for Smith Brothers Advertising, Pittsburgh, and, respecting the agency’s creative style and approach, they met with partners Lindsey and Bronson Smith to discuss the best way to confront the serious issue of dog fighting and powerfully communicate a message that would inspire people to action. “The goal,” said Killen, “was to make people think. We agreed that the spot should be brutally honest about what happens to dogs forced to fight, but without being violent or visually graphic.”
Senior writer for Smith Brothers, Cathy Bowen, researched the issue intensely and produced a poignant and unforgettable script that captured the desired message perfectly. “Animals have thoughts and feelings and feel pain just like we do,” observed Killen, “so how can people do this to them, unless those people are the real animals.”
Now the team had to find the right dogs that were the types of breeds typically used in dog fighting.
Animal producer Nancy Richert put the shoot together. Experienced at hiring animals for productions, Richert found the dogs (some actually rescued from dog fighting, including a fighting champion American Pit Bull Terrier named “Cookie” and an American Pit Bull Terrier puppy named “Dena” who was raised to fight). The cast of canines also included a Rottweiler named “Mason,” an Akita named “Neelix” and a Cane Corso named “Luca.”
With the help of Killen’s daughter, Erin, who was in charge of bringing the dogs to the set and petting them as needed, the shoot went smoothly with the dogs cooperating and delivering good performances.
The creative team members, including people from Animal, Smith Brothers and Market Street Sound, provided the voices of the dogs. Editor Beth Voltz of Animal, took the footage and the voice recordings and put together a very tender edit. Rob Deener of Market Street Sound composed an original guitar piece that beautifully and simply conveyed the emotion of the spot.
Animating the speaking dogs’ mouths was the last part to be done and it had to be done very subtly to make the words believable. Killen and Kreitzburg went to great effort to make of the speech look real (not comical) so that the thoughts and feelings would be real.
Finally, Animal enlisted the support of the Animal Rescue Association of America, a non-profit organization that supports member animal rescue organizations, shelters and veterinarians across the country.
The spot is beginning to air on several television networks and stations nationwide.
To view the PSA, please go to: http://web.mac.com/animalsite/iWeb/PSA/spot.html
For more information on Animal, please visit: http://animalspots.com
For more information about the Animal Rescue Association of America, please visit: