The Ferret Squad Movie Aims High

Filmmaker Alison Parker is in pre-production on a feature film that spotlights ferrets, ferret rescues and the illegal status of ferrets in California.

Filmmaker Alison Parker is in pre-production on a feature film that spotlights ferrets, ferret rescues and the illegal status of ferrets in California.

In 2011, Alison Parker brought us the short film Jake And Jasper: A Ferret Tale. This 25-minute ferret movie had the goal of showing ferrets in a positive light. This year, she’s hoping to make a 90-minute feature film that not only shows ferrets in a positive light, but also highlights the work done by ferret rescues/shelters and boosts the efforts to legalize ferrets in California. Her goals are ambitious, but this energetic filmmaker has already proven she can get things done. More importantly, she has a plan.

“It’s my first feature film [as director], and there’s a lot more potential with a feature.” Parker said. “You can go a lot farther with one of those than you can with a short.” People told her the ferret movie Jake And Jasper was too short, which she took as a compliment. She said it’s a sign people are interested in films like this.

The Ferret Squad
The ferret film she plans to make is called The Ferret Squad. It revolves around Max, a 13-year-old boy who moves to California and sneaks his pet ferret, Digger, into the state, which outlaws ferrets as pets. Max then meets and joins a group of children in California who call themselves The Ferret Squad. The Ferret Squad rescues and fosters illegal ferrets. Things get complicated when Digger goes missing. Later, a group of ferrets is confiscated by Animal Control and The Ferret Squad springs into action to rescue them and transport them out of state, which leads to a desperate dash for the border.

“An interesting twist is that two of the kids that are in The Ferret Squad, their mom works for the California Fish and Game Commission,” Parker said.

Why make ferret legalization the topic of a movie? “I am very passionate about this cause,” Parker said. “I want to move to California one day, but I can’t because I have two ferrets, and I would have to either leave them behind, or sneak them in and live in fear of them being confiscated. So I can really empathize with the people that have to live with this every day. I was in California recently for a few screening of Jake & Jasper and was really surprised that almost everybody I met had no idea ferrets were illegal there.”

The script is being written by Sally Meyer, who has written many family movies including You’re So Cupid, Minor Details, Fifty Cents and the upcoming Christmas Oranges. “The Ferret Squad was my idea,” Parker said, “but I can only take credit for the original, basic concept and not the amazing script it is fast becoming thanks to the writer Sally Meyer.” Parker expects the script to be finalized by May 1, 2012, and the IMDB page for The Ferret Squad currently has filming set for August 1 through August 18.

Although the movie is mainly set in California, filming will likely be in British Columbia, Canada, where Parker is based. She doesn’t have the budget to fly cast and crew to California and can’t bring ferrets there. She’s knows of a British Columbia location that can pass for California outdoors and interior scenes won’t be a problem. For transitions or other shots that truly need to be in California, she’s going to rely on friends who are filmmakers in California to send her footage.

Casting The Ferret Squad
Parker has two actors cast in the movie as of today — Connor Stanhope and Blu Mankuma. Stanhope plays Max and Mankuma plays a helpful neighbor. Both actors have numerous acting credits and also starred in Jake And Jasper.

In addition to the actors, Parker needs to cast the two main ferrets in the film, Digger and Delilah. Fans of Jake And Jasper may be surprised to learn that Falcor, Parker’s own ferret who played Jasper in last year’s film, has been retired. “He’s fine, but I’m overprotective,” Parker said. She found last year that she couldn’t focus on directing and all her many tasks during filming when Falcor was on set. She was constantly asking someone to check on him for her. “It’s gonna suck, but at the same time I’m excited to work with the new ferrets.”

A lot of casting still needs to be done, from additional characters to additional ferrets. Parker thinks she will need about 20 to 30 ferrets. Early in the movie, Max and his father visit a ferret shelter, which is where Max adopts Digger. Parker still needs to find a ferret shelter for that scene.

Fundraising For Ferrets
Following part of the formula she used to make Jake And Jasper, Parker started a social media campaign for The Ferret Squad early in 2012. In late February, she created a Facebook page and a website for The Ferret Squad. A Twitter account came next. The Facebook page and Twitter account have almost daily updates or comments. The website currently links to the IndieGoGo fundraising campaign, which began on April 9 and will run through June 10. “I’m on a 62-day mission to find as much money as I can,” Parker said. Her campaign goal is $50,000, but she’ll likely need every penny and more, because she ended up spending $30,000 on Jake And Jasper, which was only a short, and The Ferret Squad is a feature.

The IndieGoGo campaign is critical to the fundraising for the movie, and Parker said she learned from the Jake And Jasper fundraising campaign that a clever video promo for the movie is super important. You can see The Ferret Squad video on the IndieGoGo page.

Also key to the fundraising campaign are the perks offered for donations. These vary based on amount, which range from $8 to $10,000. Perks for donors range from having their name listed in the credits to having a photo of a donor or their ferret(s) appear on the wall in the headquarters of The Ferret Squad to getting an iron-on patch of The Ferret Squad logo or a ferret-sized bandana of The Ferret Squad logo and many more. The IndieGoGo page has full details.

“I hope that people will see the video and want to donate.” Parker said. “They won’t just be helping to make a movie that shows ferrets in a positive light, they’ll be helping to bring awareness to the situation in California.”

Parker met firsthand with ferret owners and others during a trip to California that included two Hollywood screenings for Jake And Jasper and a screening of it in Sacramento at the annual meeting for Ferrets Anonymous, a California group dedicated to legalizing ferrets as pets in the state.

She also met with Pat Wright of LegalizeFerrets.org, a ferret group she has teamed up with.” I don’t want it to be like I’m capitalizing on the fact that ferrets are illegal,” Parker said. “Really, I just want to make a movie.” She’s serious about wanting to help with the situation in California. Five percent of all the funds she raises in the IndeGoGo campaign will go to LegalizeFerrets.org. The exposure this ferret movie gives the situation also helps. “I know the movie isn’t going to change the law,” she added, “but maybe someone’s going to hear about it or see it who could help the people who are fighting this right now in some way.”

Parker is working hard, but $50,000 is a lot of money. Does she really think the funds can be raised and shooting will begin in August? “I’m confident it will work out, but part of me is definitely scared that it won’t,” she said. “It happened last year with Jake And Jasper. It was a big success. We exceeded my goal. I have to stay positive and believe that it’s going to happen.”

The tagline for The Ferret Squad is “Saving The World, One Ferret At A Time.” And Parker is doing her part, too.

Like this article? Read about the fundraising effort for Jake And Jasper in 2011, click here>>

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