I never really liked The Great Pumpkin as a kid. Poor Linus really believed in the Great Pumpkin and sweet Sally came along for friend support to the Pumpkin patch. But in the end (spoiler alert) It’s Snoopy the Red Baron who comes instead. I used to wonder if Linus was waiting in the wrong place or somehow got the legend wrong.
A few years ago after watching the special again as a grown up, I didn’t like it any better btw. Poor Charlie Brown. Those kids were cruel. But I got to thinking “who is the Great Pumpkin” really? What’s he like? Is he an ancient myth left over from the Celtic of festival of Samhain maybe? Where else is there a mention of the Great Pumpkin? I started to search.
Then the idea occurred to me, the Great Pumpkin needed a new revisit! And I knew just the cat who would believe in him, my black cat Buddha. I fooled around with the story a few times over the past couple of years but I didn’t quite know how it would go.
Then this year I realized that if I wanted to tell the story with Buddha it would be my last chance. This was because Buddha has cancer and this will be his last Halloween. Though daunting to film this story in the last months of his life, I was determined to do so with respect and love.
One day in September I realized that Buddha’s tumor was growing very quickly and we had better get started. He was having mostly good days with a few bad days here and there. Because the cancer was very unpredictable I knew the clock was ticking.
Furball Fables had not done a big production like this in a few years. I wanted to make it fun for the Furballs and so I began to plan it all out.
To make things easier on Buddha I decided I would decorate the entire house. This meant I needed to buy some new decorations. Fun! It would be the first time decorating the Catio. I was excited to do that. It is Buddha’s favorite place to hang out during the day. I also got cozy Halloween blankets for the bedroom because all the Furballs hang out in there. And of course we needed Pumpkins! So I got Pumpkins!
My good friend Kathie came over and helped us decorate. I was so surprised to see all the Furballs out and about, watching our every move. They are usually so shy when friends come over.
I’m not great at building things, but Kathie jumped right in and we built the three haunted houses. Easy peasy! The Furballs moved right in! It took about 5 days in all to get the house ready and another day to make sure it was clean. It looked so nice and we all appreciated how fun it was!
All in all the whole purrduction took 5 weeks from start to finish. I had story details that needed to be solved. I knew it would be a long video and that was going to be chancy. Who makes long cat videos in this day and age of 15 second reels and shorts? No one. But I set out to make a classic that could be watched every year. No easy task!
And then there is working with cat actors. Ha! We filmed for more than two weeks. Some scenes I shot three or more times. The actors were sleepy, not in the mood, hungry, goofing off or simply not going to cooperate. Typical!
The footage looked wonderful! And there were plenty of scenes where the actors hit their marks! Buddha was out and very interested in the process. I tried to make it easy on him and not stress him out in any way.
In mid October I started editing. That first week, Buddha wasn’t doing well and I got very emotional. His Holistic vet had told us it could be any time or months away. Hard to tell. But Buddha stopped eating for a few days and I panicked. It was a very stressful roller coaster ride of emotions for me. Then he got better. YAY! That helped so much!
The most labor intensive part was the talking bubbles. In the end this is why the film took 15 days to edit. Most days I only got two or three scenes done. Each talking bubble had to be planned, exported and rendered. I had to know who was going to say what and plan accordingly. Very tedious work which took a lot of patience.
I had no idea it would take so long. Everyday I went to work then came home and edited til it was time for bed. Each night after dinner Buddha would hang out with me and the other Furballs as I put the story together. I actually would discuss scenes with them! LOL! Crazy maybe, but it sure helped.
Finally I was close and I decided to release it on National Black Cat, October 27th. I had one scene to finish and then I uploaded the film to YouTube at 1pm that day. I could have used another week on it but my time was up.
The film ended up being 13 minutes long. But when I think back, there isn’t much I would change about it. Except the way Youtube functions. But unfortunately I have no control over that. As of this day, the film has a slow start and not a lot of views. (Please go watch it!) That’s the chance I took with such a long video. Overall, I am very happy with how it turned out. I realized during the filming of it all, that next it should be a book.
Even if Buddha’s time here on earth may be short, he can live forever in a way and help bring about the pawsitive change that is needed with Halloween Black Cats. It’s only when we stop portraying black cats as evil and scary at Halloween time that the old myths and superstitions will change too.
This year for the first time I noticed a real shift in Halloween decorations. Michael’s Craft store did not have one single scary black cat but instead only cute ones. Same as CVS and many other places I saw black Halloween cats.
So it looks like the Great Pumpkins promise that Halloween black cats will no longer be thought of as evil but instead beautiful, kind creatures are coming true already!
So in Prince Buddha’s name that will continue to be our mission. The evil black cat will be long forgotten and Black Cat Pawsitivity will be the wave of the very near future! Happy Meowloween!!