MY FUREVER STORY:
Initially I learned of pet preservation in 2007, after reading an article one morning about outrageous pet expenditures. It mentioned Mac, of Mac’s Taxidermy fame, and told the story of a woman who chose to freeze-dry her pet as an alternative to burial or cremation. I was fascinated by the concept of freeze-drying animals, as I’d only ever thought of the technology in relation to Cup O’ Noodles™ or Astronaut Ice Cream™, but I was especially drawn to the story of the pet owner and her level of attachment and inability to let go of her pet. While it struck me as unconventional and not necessarily healthy, it was an experience with which I was familiar. I’d had many pets as a child, from anoles and budgies, to dogs and rats, and I became equally attached to every one of them. My animal companions and I shared a close physical bond, and with each of their deaths, I was utterly inconsolable. Age has helped me to become slightly better equipped to process death, but still it’s always grueling to let go. I knew what I had to do. I called Mac, told him I was working on a documentary about pet preservation, my first feature-length film (I’d made two shorts before), and asked if he’d mind if I came to Fort Loudon, PA, to spend a few days with him. He happily obliged and one month later I packed up my camera, hopped on a greyhound, and set off to explore.
THE FUREVER STORY:
Over half of the US population considers pets as family members, while 70 percent of childless couples have pets. Human birth rates are plummeting to the lowest levels seen in years and 54% of people aged 21-30 are choosing to have pets instead of children. With the popularity of doggie daycare, organic pet food, and even religious rites for pets (such as the “bark mitzvah”), not to mention expensive pet medical procedures, spending on pets is expected to reach a record-breaking $47.7 billion this year. As people find themselves devastated by their pet’s death, they increasingly turn to pet preservation to ease their grief. Rather than pathetic or morbid, people who choose pet preservation embody America’s muddled attitudes toward death and dying, touching on our collective fear of aging, and how that fear is shaped by the shifting influences of religion, family, and money. How “real” is grief for a dead pet? Who decides what kind of grief is acceptable, or appropriate? Have we lost a sense of ritual, and does that leave us unmoored in the wake of death? In a country where anything can be bought, where youth is prized while age is loathed, why surrender to death at all?
Furever is a documentary exploration of pet preservation, or, the processes by which a deceased pet is professionally conserved. I have shot forty hours of footage of one technique, freeze-drying, which produces disarmingly lifelike results. This seemingly bizarre practice offers a unique perspective on mortality, grief, and mourning. The concepts investigated in Furever will disarm anyone who might want to dismiss the subjects as mere oddball caricatures. Furever contributes to the dialogue on death and grief, bewildering aspects of the human condition, begun by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, dovetailing with the growing trend toward pet anthropomorphism, and the anguish that befalls the owners of deceased pets. Many dismiss or judge pet preservationists for being “unbalanced,” yet the assorted rituals in place for deceased human loved ones, while precious to those who practice them, often seem odd or unusual to outsiders.
In addition to Kickstarter, I’m also seeking support from both fiscal sponsorship organizations and grant sources. My goal is to shoot additional footage to interview psychologists, veterinarians and animal behaviorists to discuss the nature of grief and attachment, and to showcase additional methods of pet preservation, as well as the stories of those who choose to practice them. The expected project completion date is February 2013, as the film will take approximately eighteen months to finish, once funding is secured. The total footage will make up a feature-length version (80-90 minutes), suitable for broadcast on TV and theatrical screenings.
You will only be charged if and when I reach my Kickstarter funding goal of $5000 or higher on June 20, 2011. You will not get charged for your donation until that date. At the end of the fundraising campaign, contributors will be contacted by Director Amy Finkel to get any additional information that may be needed (shipping address, incentive choice, etc...).
- All music in the above short composed by Lee Sargent, except for "Stuffed Animal," done by Annette Funicello for the 1962 film "Pajama Party".
- Title Paintings by Shawn Creeden.
- Shooting / editing / directing: Amy Finkel
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If you have any questions about the film or how I'll be spending your generous Kickstarter donations, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks so much for supporting FUREVER!
- Amy Finkel, Director
For more information about FUREVER's incentives, please click here.
And again, thanks so much for your support!!