News & Culture in Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Points Nearby
October 31, 2014
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News + Views

Boerum Hill Filmmaker

By Erin Behan

Amy Finkel of Boerum Hill raising money for her film about preserving dead pets.
Photo by Joshua Kristal

Amy Finkel would like to make one thing clear. Her forthcoming film, “FUREVER,” is not about the recent hipster obsession with taxidermy.

Finkel, a 12-year-native of Boerum Hill, is working on a documentary about the somewhat macabre measures pet owners enact while grieving recently dead animal companions. Her video short promoting the film features a Pennsylvania taxidermy shop that specializes in freeze-drying pets, sometimes making the animals look quite alive, and a woman who tearfully, and joyfully, has her Chihuahua freeze-dried so the furry little animal can still “be the baby” in the family.

“It’s not even really about pets. It’s about how we grieve and mourn within changing sociological structures, told through tales of people and pets. It’s more about attachment and letting go,” Finkel says.

Other methods of pet preservation Finkel plans to explore include mummification, life gems (making diamonds out of carbon remains) and cloning. The film has a completed soundtrack of original music by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s Lee and Tyler Sargent.

Finkel has six days left to raise her goal of $10,000 for the film on Kickstarter. She’s raised $7,765 from 153 backers so far.

Furever is the 35-year-old’s third film project.

Finkel’s longtime landlord doesn’t allow pets. But she knows what it’s like. As a child, Finkel’s family adopted a menagerie, everything from school lab rats to lizards and “many dogs,” she says.

“There’s a connection I always felt with animals, but I didn’t necessarily feel with humans. When our pets would die, it would just devastate me, every time,” she says.

One particularly hard death was that of a beloved female rat named Walrus Man.

“When my rat died, I remember coming home from school, and I’m clutching this dead stiff rat for two hours, until my parents came home to pry her out of my hands.”

Finkel eventually learned to let go, something the subjects in “FUREVER” are rather proud of never having to do.

“To each his own,” Finkel says. “My brother gets the ashes of his pets tattooed into him. Some people sleep on their pet’s ashes. There’s a woman who makes pillows with ashes inside them.”

Finkel hopes to finish the film by February 2013. The money she raises on Kickstarter won’t finance the entire film, so she’s applying for fiscal sponsorship, and non-profit and corporate grants.

“Mostly I did Kickstarter to gauge enthusiasm,” she says. She reached her original $5,000 goal in 10 days.

The Kickstarter team was so bowled over by the project that they featured her in a Q&A on their blog. Buzzfeed, IndieWire, Paw Nation, and many blogs picked up her short.

Among many other pursuits (designer, photographer, writer, creative director of a Brooklyn-based web design and video company, Sailor Beware), Finkel runs a metal studio, These Creatures, based in Seattle, with her brother. Together they produce design-savvy metal home goods–including feeders for dogs and cats–that are available at Home & Haven on Smith Street in Cobble Hill.

Finkel is exploring some interesting stats: 54 percent of people aged 21 to 30 are now choosing pets instead of children, according to a nationwide survey conducted by Flexcin International. Or, as reported at Pet Finder, nine out of 10 people with pets consider them to be their children. Do women, more than men, turn pets into permanent household fixtures?

Of the subjects Finkel has filmed so far, she says, “These were very intelligent people. They were otherwise totally normal. They just had this immense capacity to love their pets, and this is how they chose to deal with it.

“The whole point,” Finkel says, “is that they don’t want to let go.”

Thanks to modern technology, they don’t have to.

For more information on “FUREVER,” check out the film’s site.

 

 

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