I thought I’d explain how I came to have all these interviews.
This is a project that really started in 1996. I came across a book called The Great Ape Project and thought someone should make a film about it. I was wowed. I had read other books that had animal rights ideas in them as related to food production, but I hadn’t come across anyone who had picked a specific group of animals and built an argument for why they should have rights and what specific rights they should have. I waited and waited. No one made a film about it, so in 2001, I took my dot-com-crash severance check and spent a year thinking and dreaming and reading and applying for grant funding. I joined filmmakers groups and attended workshops and bought more books and wrote ideas on a 7 foot white board I had installed for this purpose. I cornered people at parties and talked enthusiastically about what I’d learned. My mom talked our way into an event where the experts I was interested in would be speaking and they allowed me to film it. Apart from a year of inspiration and fantastic insights, I did not raise any funds.
Fast forward to 2005, we were in a new city with our young daughter and still this idea haunted me. I reached a point where it was more stressful not to do something than to do something. I made a short list of people to interview, created a budget, applied for more funding, and started creating little index cards with ideas and posting them on the walls. I found myself determined to move forward, but without any funding. That’s when I decided I’d follow in my filmmaker friends footsteps and pay in cash what I could and put the rest on credit cards. I know. GREAT idea.
By 2006, I started calling and writing to request interviews. And one by one, the authors, professors, experts and happening people accepted my interview requests. I was lucky enough to find a supportive Associate Producer and 2 Director of Photographers. I found a lawyer to draw up some contracts and a travel agent to book the trips while my dad bought the video, audio and lighting equipment which I attempted to learn how to use. I enlisted grandparents to take turns watching my 3 year old and had the support of my husband for my impending trips that would last one or more week at a time and that eventually took me across the United States, Canada, England and Spain. My employer was super compliant and let me leave for these trips as needed.
It was thrilling to spend time with such a rich variety of people who could articulate things I had felt but hadn’t been able to quite put my finger on, who had thought about all kinds of reasons to explain why things were the way they were that I hadn’t thought about before, had a vision for what needed to be done and who were working tirelessly to make the world a better place. It was truly a joy.
By the middle of 2007, I finished the last interview. I transcribed them and lined an entire room with different quote sections to form an outline and spent hours editing and re-editing. My best intentions to complete the film by years end were foiled and I found myself distracted in 2008 with the birth of my second child. After many attempts to self-fund and to raise funds to finish post production, by the end of 2012 it occurred to me that this content, all 40+ hours of it, would be well suited to post online. I always knew I would post some of it here, I just hadn’t realized I would be posting it without the film.
It’s worth noting that in 2006, the main proposal on the table for granting rights to animals was to start with great apes. There were other ideas about how to approach rights, but I saw this as the first concrete proposal for rights for animals and felt this was a good jumping off point to discuss animal rights in general. As a result, a lot of the interviews center around great apes.
Each interview included a two or three person crew combination of Paul Sharpe (Director of Photography), Diana Wilmar (Director of Photography), Grace Stahre (Associate Producer) and myself. Special thanks to them for their support and for helping me capture these interviews. Last but not least, a tremendous thank you goes to my entire family and dear friends for supporting me through this process.
Clearly for me, the ideas I’ll be sharing with you from these amazing people, over 20 interviews in all, have captivated my heart in a most sincere way. I am so excited to share these inspiring, thoughtful ideas with you. It will take me a while to get all of the interviews posted. Enjoy!