Thursday, September 24, 2009

Working with cats: behind the scenes.

Yesterday I shot a Whiskas commercial with two American Silver Tabby Shorthairs named Monty and Mikey. They arrived from L.A. (!) with their very friendly trainers, Chrissy and David. Do you know what cats having trainers means?

Cats...can be TRAINED.

When I went to my wardrobe call on Monday I stayed for about an hour after they'd picked my outfit so I could get to know the cats and they could rehearse their moves. Chrissy would let Mikey out of his carrying case and David would say "Mikey, jump up!" and the cat would run over to me and put his paws on my lap, at which point he was rewarded with luncheon meat. We did this a few times and then moved on to their floor routines, which essentially involved them rolling on their backs and being adorable.

On the day, we shot a scene where I'm sitting on a couch and the cat jumps up on me and we cuddle, so David put chicken-flavoured baby food on my nose and we rehearsed it a few times so the cat would come directly to my nose and lick it off. When we actually did the takes I didn't have baby food on my nose so the cat just came up to my face and looked really affectionate as it tried to locate the baby food.


Monty and Mikey are some of the best cats I've met. Still, when they were cuddling with me it kinda felt like when I was swimming with the dolphins in Cuba: yeah, they're letting me pat their heads and dragging me with their fins and stuff, but it's only 'cause they know they'll be rewarded with a bucket of fish.

Anyhoo, it was a fun shoot and surprisingly quick, considering we were working with animals and had to shoot both the English and French versions. Funnily enough, on my way home I ran into my friend Greg who is in one of the most clever and hilarious commercials I've ever seen, which also happens to be for Whiskas. Here's hoping mine will be this good:

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