Monday, October 8, 2007

Tim Robbins Peed on my Camera (Shelter Run Days 3 and 4)

We didn't have to be at the Bowling Green Warren County Human Society until 11AM on Saturday so all of us got to enjoy sleeping in. Add on the fact that we were in central time and I think that was the latest I've slept in years. Good thing too, because we were all going to need that energy for the trip back that night.

The BG shelter was largest and best maintained shelter that we visited. It was nice to be able to get some footage of dogs in kennels that wasn't sad looking. The animals had a lot of open space outdoors to exercise in as well. Spent the first part of the visit getting the now standard b-roll shots of the shelter. I also picked up some good shots of the Rogers' crew with some of the animals we were taking back to PA with us, including the animals that some of my traveling companions would be fostering. A lot of happy faces on Day 3.

This shelter was also the busiest that we had encountered so far. Lot of animals were brought in just during the time we were there, including a stray dog that was found on the side of the road that had to be one of the saddest animals I've ever seen, emaciated to the point of starvation.

The rest of the visit included a quality interview with Deana Wehr, the shelter's assistant director and filming the Rogers' crew as they prepared to transport dogs back to PA. Lots of crates to assemble, paperwork to double-check, and animals to crate up. Once we got all of the animals on the vehicle it was time to hit the road. We left BG around 3:30PM central time.

At this point we were running about an hour behind schedule, which was bad because we needed to get back to the other KY shelters before they closed to pick up some more animals. Luckily, Donna from the Anderson shelter was able to pick up the animals from the Mercer shelter and meet us off the highway which helped us get back the time we lost. She also gave us a ton of cookies for the road.

Now we had the long drive ahead of us. Up until this point, I'd been riding in the crew van with four other people, but I really needed to get some footage of the actual transport van so I switched over to ride with Jen in the van with all the animals. Wasn't nearly as stinky as I had been led to believe and the animals were amazingly well behaved. A little whining here and there, but no barking. I road with Jen and the dogs until just before midnight when we rolled into Clay County, West Virginia for our final pickup. At this point we were running a little early so we had to wait for the shelter we were meeting to arrive. Just after midnight we got our last couple of animals and got back on the road. Jen was done at this point so I took over the driving duties on the transport van for the next four hours. By 4AM on Day 4 I was too tired to drive and everyone needed a pit stop so Marianne took the wheel of the transport van and I grabbed a couple of hours of sleep in the passenger van. Woke up at about 6AM somewhere in MD at our next pit stop.

Finally we arrived at the Stabler drop-off point in PA around 7:30 AM on Sunday morning, an hour ahead of schedule. This was the same drop off that Andy and I had filmed a few weeks back, but this time we were on the delivering end of the process instead of the receiving. Time to uncrate as many dogs as we could and let them run and relieve themselves. I was so exhausted at this point that I shot hand held for the drop-off. Luckily, we'd been able to let most of the rescues that were meeting us know that we were running early so people soon started to arrive to claim the dogs and take them to their foster families.

Marianne was taking two dogs back to her house to foster, and since she drives a mini-Cooper we needed more room. Her husband, Layne had come up to the meeting spot to get one of the dogs, that Marianne had dubbed "Tim Robbins" to go with the other foster she was taking, Susan Sarandon. We were still waiting for the final rescue to arrive to claim the last dog, so I hitched a ride back to Marianne's house with Layne and Tim Robbins. About five minutes out from Marianne's place, Timmy decided to relieve himself in the car. Mostly on the floor, but also on my camera bag. Fortunately, I'd foreseen this possibility and covered the bag with my jacket so he only got a bit on the strap. The jacket didn't fare as well. Figures, four days surrounded by dogs and I finally get hit in the last five minutes of the trip. Of well, I guess it goes with the territory.

Packed up my gear, except for reflector I'd left in Marianne's mini (I'll get it back some other day) and head back to Jersey. Got back into town around 10AM and stopped at Small World for a couple of cups of coffee since I knew we didn't have any at home. Emily came running out to meet me as soon as I opened the garage. A good welcome home. Exhausted at this point, I unload the gear and immediately took a shower because... I really stank. It was good to be home, but I think the lack of sleep and a sore body made me pretty cranky for most of the day.

All in all, it was a great experience and I think I got some great stuff for the film. I'm really happy that the Rogers' crew let me be part of the trip (not to mention covering my expenses). I shot over 6 hours of footage over 4 days. Need to get those backbone interviews on the schedule soon. I think I'm also going to try and find some time to interview some of the ladies from the trip one-on-one and also film some of the dogs in the foster environment. Will probably try to start logging a few tapes a week for the next month or so with the goal of beginning the editing process in November. I'll try to post some choice video clips once I get going.

I know there's Rogers' blog of the trip out there somewhere as well as some Flickr page. I'll try to get those links up here too.

(Update 2010-01-21 - Here's the link the Flickr photostream from the trip. Thanks Claire!)