What do you do when you’re a couple of filmmakers with a fun sense of humor and passion for cats? So many people have jumped onto the YouTube bandwagon with their cat videos, but Chicago couple Alana Grelyak and Micheal Gabriele have hit the national stage for the second year in a row – the CatDance Film Festival. Their entry – The Inheritance – is a finalist in the cat video film fest.
The Chicago couple’s first entry – Catalogue – was the most viewed in last year’s CatDance Film Festival but came up short in the popular vote. That video all started on a whim and got the couple rolling on their own videos aimed at promoting cat adoption.
“For Catalogue, we had just gotten married and redone our bedroom,” Says Alana. “Rocky was at my feet on the bed and he matched the duvet. I thought it would be a funny premise for a cat video. I love to create things that are more visual and it was my first foray as an actress into comedy.”
The final result was Catalogue about a young couple that was furnishing their first home. At the food of the bed for the new bedroom set was a cat that matched the duvet…just like the cat in the catalog. The video was easy and fun for a couple that lives with their four cats and a dog. Grelyak writes and acts in the video and her husband serves as director and editor. The short has had almost 500,000 page views on YouTube.
“We really focus on things that the cats love to do and script and shoot around that,” adds Grelyak. “Rocky loves the foot of the bed and really does like to be vacuumed. The only tricky shot involved the cat floating in a pool for the Inheritance. We didn’t know how that one would work.”
It worked out fine in fact. Grelyak had hoped to use their winnings in last year’s CatDance Film Festival to help out cats in need in Chicago. When that didn’t happen, she tapped into her passion for writing and launched a blog – Cat In The Fridge. It features the cat from the fridge in the video – Crepes – and launched February 8 last year.
“I had three cats and when Micheal and I moved in together, we decided to foster some kittens for Tree House Humane Society,” says Grelyak. “Crepes was missing a foot and we just loved her and adopted her. The focus of the blog is special needs cats with adoption pages and other information you should know to promote adopting a special needs cat.
The blog features “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” cats that need a home. It also gives tips like what you should know when adopting a blind cat. The page has helped cats get adopted and also various rescues raise funds needed for care of certain cats in need. That blog has also served as a launching pad for them to do so much more.
Because of CatInTheFridge, the couple became active in BlogPaws, a blogging platform for pet bloggers. Because of their advocacy, they won an Adoption Champion grant awarded by BlogPaws/Halo/Freekibble.com to work for six months with Tree House on social media and photography. They’ve also produced a tip sheet to help people take better pet adoption photos.
“We were able to go to the Internet Cat Video Festival in Minnesota last summer and connected with many of the other great cat video teams,” she adds. “We’ve connected with Lit’ Bub and her dude. We’ve learned a lot from Will Braden of Henri, le Chat Noir fame (also known as the “Thieving filmmaker”). It’s been a great experience.”
Which leads up to this year’s CatDance entry, The Inheritance. You can vote once a day through February 28 to help them win this year’s award – a grand prize of $50,000. Grelyak wanted to do something different this year and tapped into her musician background to include a mini music video as part of this short film.
“We’ve also launched our own Web series – CATAstrophes – that went live a few weeks ago with MagiCATastrophe,” she adds. “Each one is to promote a different Chicago cat rescue organization and if possible use a cat or kitten or two from that group. Our first video featured some kittens from Chicago Cat Rescue. My costar Kris Flanagan recently adopted kittens also make their debut.”
The video (see below) features a magician that keeps creating cats at a birthday party. It’s a nod to what is about to happen with kitten season. Which brings us back to The Inheritance. You can tap into your inner Chicagoan and vote early and often – once a day through the end of February – to help the video come out on top.
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