Jake and Jasper: A Ferret Tale

All independent filmmakers know how hard it is to get even the smallest project off the ground. Then, even if you get your film made the next trial of strength is to get your movie seen and talked about. There are still plenty of festivals and various digital platforms to explore but even that is no guarantee your film will get seen. The recession has made it harder for independent films to get funding, but not impossible and it’s with this in mind that an old form of funding becomes more relevant than ever before.

Crowd funding isn’t a new thing by any stretch. It’s been there for almost as long as movies have been made. You could say in some ways B movie legend Ed Wood was among the first to fully embrace this method of getting a movie made. As social media changed the way big movie studios market their movies, it has changed how independent films are funded, made and distributed. Personally speaking I find this a fascinating subject matter and will be the focus of a much more in-depth article on indy-filmmaking and the changing times we find ourselves in. It’s refreshingly hopeful to see a small little short film such as Jake and Jasper get attention, and as the majority of donators have been ferret owners it’s great to see owners love their pets enough to part with a few bucks to get the film made.

There is plenty of choice for crowd funding websites, IndieGoGo is one of the leading sites and the set up is usually the same; you donate one of a handful of set amounts (or more) and in exchange you get a credit or special thanks, a DVD and an IMDB listing. I remember only a few of years ago my Dad received an invitation and glossy brochure to invest in a Brit war movie ‘The Last Drop’, convinced it was a doomed project he passed on investment but picked it up from a supermarket two years later.

It was while looking at the latest batch of campaigns on IndieGoGo I found a rather interesting project. A short film called Jake and Jasper: A Ferret Tale, the story of a young boy struggling with the death of his mother who finds solace with a ferret, named Jasper.

As a ferret owner myself I was interested in the simple yet refreshing angle. Ferrets are pretty much the most misunderstood pets around today. Well maybe not the most misunderstood but they’re up there on the list. After a few minutes watching the very clever trailer/fund raising video I was not only sold on the idea, I really wanted to see the end result.

The director of this short film is Alison Parker, already an experienced filmmaker inCanadaon many low budget horror films. She is now turning her attention to more family oriented projects. Funding is already in place for the actual shoot but additional funding was needed to provide animals and animal wranglers for the scenes set in the forest when Jake runs away from home. Alison has been running a very smart social media campaign to create awareness for the film, regular prize giveaways and a break neck Facebook campaign that saw over 400 new followers join in just a couple of hours.

Cast in the lead roles are Falcor the Ferret as Jasper and Connor Stanhope as Jake.  Eagle eyed geeks might recognise Connor from several episodes of Smallville where he played a young Lex Luthor.

Just recently Grammy award nominated and Juno award winning band the Crash Test Dummies have offered to contribute a song to the film. All of this achieved through a laptop and an Internet connection.

The more I learned about this project the more I wanted to get involved, so I contacted Alison and asked if she would be interested in an interview for the

Jellyfielders Podcast. Its projects like this that reminds us that independent filmmaking is still alive and fighting back.

Here is an extract from the interview that took place on the 3rd of July this year, if you’d like to hear the full interview you can download the episode for free from iTunes.

http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/jellyfielders-podcast/id418876405

http://feeds.feedburner.com/jellyfielders

JF: Would you like to tell us about your forthcoming short film?

AP: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a short film and it’s about a young boy struggling to cope with the death of his mother and he ends up developing this strong bond and friendship with a ferret named Jasper.

This is special movie to me because I’m a ferret owner myself and ferrets get a pretty bad rap in the media. So this will be one of the first films to show ferrets in a positive light. The ferret is actually help bring

Jake out of his shell because his mum just died he becomes very repressed he basically stops talking, smiling and laughing he feels like he has no heart. His father isn’t handling the death well either, he is lecturing Jake and not being there to support him. So his sister Jesse gives him this pet ferret named Jasper because she is moving out of the house but wants to leave the ferret there to give him some companionship and they end up forming a strong bond it’s going to be really cute to see what happens there and how that affects his life.

JF: So through the friendship with the ferret he is able to let go and talk about his emotions.

AP: The ferret actually becomes the first “person” that Jake talks to in the film, he talks to it (Jasper) and the ferret makes his little ferret noises and he acts like the ferret is talking back to him and it brings Jake out of his shell. It doesn’t stop there as his father threatens to take away the ferret because he is having trouble at school and getting into fights and people making fun of him for his mother being gone and bringing a ferret to school. So he runs away from home and he ends up in this forest, it’s just him and jasper in the forest and the come across all these different animals they have quite an adventure there I’d like to tell you but I don’t want to ruin the story.

JF: You touched on it earlier but you feel that ferrets get a bit of a bad reputation.

AP: Just the way they have been portrayed in the media has almost always been negative, movies, commercials and TV shows that have used them show them as being aggressive or even used as a weapon.

I’m watching stardust, which is a nice movie and they open up this big cage and all these ferrets come running out and I’m like “They’re so cute” then they jump on this woman and supposedly kill her. Things like that contribute to the notion that ferrets are not a desirable pet to have.

JF: “Which is funny because the script is written by Jane Goldman who is a big fan of ferrets, she’s also Jonathan Ross’s wife and her twitter handle is Ferret Princes

AP: Well then I’m really disappointed in her. I have been trying to reach out to Jonathan Ross as I heard he likes Ferrets.

JF: You’re kind of approaching the funding of the film in a new way.

AP: Right now I’m using crowd funding and a site called Indigogo.com there’s another one called kick starter, there are others but those are the two major ones I know of. Basically, using crowd funding I’m able to accept donations from people all around the world who want to help me with the production costs of this film because they believe in the project.

It’s been a really amazing experience I started my fund raising campaign nine days ago and have currently raised over $3000. We are currently on page two of IndieGoGo’s top campaigns.

JF: How can people get involved with Jake and Japer?

AP: I think the number one way is sharing the link on your facebook page or your twitter page or whatever you have. It’s actually been shared by over 400 different people on Facebook and I know that’s making a huge difference. So if you can’t afford to donate don’t feel bad, you can still help by posting that link on your wall. There are a number of links but the easiest one is http://www.indiegogo.com/Jake-Jasper-A-Ferret-Tale

At the time of writing, Alison has raised $7500 of her $10000 target and has 17 days left on the campaign. If you would like to donate or share the link to the film please visit http://www.indiegogo.com/Jake-Jasper-A-Ferret-Tale

Chris Suffield

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