Dec. 15, 2010 at 4:06 PM ET
Many cat owners believe their felines have star potential, but two filmmakers took it a step further and made 25 cats not only the main attractions of "Cat Diaries: The First Ever Movie Filmed by Cats," but the behind-the-scenes crew, as camera operators.
The four-minute video debuted last week during a red-carpet event at The Grove's Pacific Theatre in Los Angeles. A VIP cocktail reception was the prelude to the event, with celebrities, such as embattled Charlie Sheen's ex, Denise Richards, gracing the scene with some stardust.
Among the soon-to-be elites of the cat film world, with names that could pass as the latest generation of Hollywood kids: Charlene Butterbean, Worthington P. Whiskers, CootiePaTootie, Fuzz, Gizmo, Kafka, LucyFurr, Nano and Skeezix.
The four-minute video incorporates that herky-jerky motion we've come to associate with mobile phone cameras, but from the POV of much, much shorter, four-footed agile handlers, whose HD video cameras are attached to their collars. There's a lot of exploration, inside and outside, as cats pounce on each other, hapless bugs and everywhere, whiskers let you know exactly who's handling the camera.
So for owners who have ever questioned what their cat(s) do while they're at work, this video opens up a whole new world.
Two years ago, I wrote about a cat whose owners wondered what he did all day, so they equipped a mini-camera on his collar programmed to take pictures throughout the day, one day every week for a year. Cooper the cat got a photo exhibit out of it, and lots of new online fans (over a million hits from my first story). He became a celebrity overnight.
While Cooper's photos are published as is, this film short is polished and well-edited with an original score, backed by Friskies. The cat food company worked with Los Angeles based director/producer Erik Denno and editor/director Jason Farrell.
Limited screenings of a shorter version of the film will run from now until Dec.23 in Holtsville (NY), Anaheim Hills (CA), Orland Park (IL), Center Valley (PA), Brentwood (CA), Randolph (MA), Conyers (GA), Silver Spring (MD), Conroe (TX) and St. Louis (MO).
Purina "Animal Behavior Scientist" Dr. Jill Villarreal and her team followed Cooper's lead in 2009 by giving an army of 50 cats collars with digital cameras and publishing the results in "The Scratchington Post," a "cat's eye view of the world."
In 2010, Villarreal and her team converged again on another group of cats ("male and female cats from a variety of living arrangements") from across the country to capture daily footage for five days. These "rePURRters" (their language, not mine!) and their owners participated in this focus group were not compensate for their participation, but Friskies provided cat video camera kits to each "to facilitate collecting and uploading videos."
Villarreal "analyzed the footage to draw conclusions about the daily adventures of cats." She gathered enough material to come out with a 2010 edition of "The Scratchington Post" that proved to her what many cat people already knew: "that cats truly are social beings."
Friskies seems to be trying to capitalize not only on the inherent appeal of pets, but also on the buzz-generating potential of viral campaigns. It follows in pawsteps of Quiznos' big FAIL of musical kitties that comes off more creepy than cute and the Rathergood punk kittens, which is actually rather good if you like punk rock kittens.
With more people online than ever before, advertisers have amped up their interwebs savvy in reaching audiences who are more likely to respond to YouTube viral videos than whatever happens to be on TV. Advertising Age recently came out with its top 10 list of social media campaigns, which included videos from Old Spice, Coca-Cola and General Electric.