Call me crazy if you want to, but I see God in the eyes of my companion animals. I am a regular at our little St. Matthews in-the-Pines Episcopal Church and I like how going there makes me feel inside. I love my little church family and how we’re always there for each other in times of need, but there is something very spiritual that I get when Izzy or Bernie or Elvis or Garth or Joey (and a host of departed animal angels whose earthly remains are buried on our property) look me in the eye. I know they look to me to provide for them and to protect them and I am more than willing and capable of doing that.
I have too many stories I could tell about uncharacteristic things they’ve done during efforts to soothe or minister to me to think they were just random acts. Like the time one of our cats slept on my feet (when he’d never done it before) on the night one of our pack mates died and I was grieving so hard I didn’t think I’d see another day. I believe animals know when we’re hurting, or sad, or happy or in need of love. And, if you’ve shown them love and compassion, they’ll give it right back.
Then Stubby came along.
Jill and I were pressed into service about a year ago in our roles as ultimate cheerleaders for this town. A group of people from Ireland and maybe Paris (not sure where all they came from) were coming to Columbus to join some folks from Fun Academy Motion Pictures (Columbus’ own animation film company) and our job was to provide some local color to help them fall in love with this place that we already hold dear.
++++++SINCE ALL THE CONCERNED PARTIES AT FUN ACADEMY STUDIOS ARE BUSY LAUNCHING THEIR FIRST MOVIE, I AM WRITING THIS FROM MY MEMORIES OF THE CONVERSATIONS AND OBSERVATIONS DURING THE PAST YEAR. IT ISN’T PRACTICAL FOR ME TO ASK FOR INTERVIEWS AT THIS CRITICAL TIME IN THEIR FIRST PROJECT’S LIFE.++++++
I’ve had so many things I wanted to say about the Sgt. Stubby project, but with the exception of a ridiculous number of Facebook postings, I’ve held back until this day, because what I have to say and how moviegoers respond to #StubbyMovie will to a great degree depend on what happens in the film industry in Columbus, Georgia.
Here’s what I know:
From that very first time we met Richard Lanni, Laurent Rodon and the others they brought to Columbus in the early days of this project, I was hopeful that something really incredible was about to happen. There were discussions of the Technicolor company possibly having a presence here, of an international animation event happening one day in Columbus, of Fun Academy Studios hiring between 300-500 highly-paid animators (some might be trained at Columbus State University) and that they might be working in 25,000-30,000 square feet of downtown Columbus office space. At the time of these meetings, California was still the number one movie producing state in America. Now, things have changed. Now the #1-in-the-world Georgia film industry is a $10,000,000,000 juggernaut and there is a little statistic I want you to know about: Of the 25 highest grossing films of all time in every category, 21 of them have been animated films!
Animation doesn’t depend on the weather, the temperature or temperamental actors. I don’t know a lot of things, but a concoction of the things I do know about the potential of this industry being a new and extremely important addition to the Columbus region’s economic development activities really got my attention.
The planets will have to align to make that happen. BUT HERE IS THE NUT OF THIS ENTIRE BLOG POST: Nothing will happen unless everyone who has a voice raises it to support this Sgt. Stubby movie. The fact that I see this as a potential multi-million dollar industry in my town is the reason you’ve seen my very active Facebook Stubby posts. If I can influence people to buy movie tickets and tell their friends, I will have done my part to participate in what could be a huge contributor in the success of Columbus, Georgia going forward.
That brings us to a couple of weeks ago, when Jill and I joined a few people from here at Sgt. Stubby’s world premiere in Los Angeles. We got to watch children see the film. We got to hear their comments and we got to meet people who have the chops to weigh in on just how good the movie is, both on the content side and the creativity side. People LOVE Sgt. Stubby!
This is all exciting and thought provoking on so many levels. But for me, the clear facts that this rescued dog bonded with a human and braved things that no one should ever have to see to guard and protect his human and those whom his human loved almost instantly brings me to tears. There is something about my cancer situation and the closeness that I share with my companion animal pack that makes me deeply reverent of the bond that we have with our pets.
This film explores those human/animal bonds in such a cool way. And, in this 100th anniversary year of Fort Benning, the 100th anniversary of World War One and the deep convictions of animal shelters to rescue deserving animals, the Sgt. Stubby film has a shot to be a break out film.
My desire for the film industry being a success here is driving my passion to share this story. I hope you will join me, raise your voices and help us get people to pay to see this film.
Will you join me?