Students produce documentary about Hundred Cat Foundation

A documentary produced by two Penn State undergraduate students has provided a boost to a nonprofit group that strives to improve the lives of feral, stray and free-roaming cats in Centre County, Pa.

Filming of "Feral Fixation: The Work of the Hundred Cat Foundation" was completed, directed and edited by Johanna Kirchheimer and Megan Ruffe with guidance from Lyn Elliot, an associate professor in the Department of Film-Video and Media Studies in the College of Communications.

Elliot conceived the idea of a documentary about the Hundred Cat Foundation after volunteering for the organization earlier this year. She passed the idea of a service-learning project along to Kirchheimer, a film and special education major from Audubon, Pa.; and Ruffe, a film major from New Hope, Pa.; and the pair responded enthusiastically.

They guided the project from start to finish -- creating a script, scheduling shooting and tracking the editing process. Foundation volunteer Leslie Jackson, a Penn State staff member, assisted with the script and served as the narrator for the final product --- which was warmly received and has been widely used since its premiere screening this spring.

"To have such a high quality documentary to use for fundraising, education, marketing and outreach is wonderful," Foundation President Donna Herrmann said. "We're very grateful to everyone involved in making the film a reality."

Along with the nearly eight-minute documentary, the students also produced a 40 second clip that highlights volunteer opportunities with the foundation. They did all the shooting for both pieces in just one day, which required them to handle all possible preparations in advance.

"We were shooting in a fairly small space at the clinic so there was a lot of prep work that had to go into planning shots and the placement of the camera, light, and sound equipment," Kirchheimer said. "I was amazed at the results. I'm really proud to have been a part of the whole experience."

"As a beginning film student, the project was a really great way for me to get more acquainted with filmmaking and documentary work as well as help a great cause at the same time," Ruffe said. "In my future career, I hope to continue raising awareness for various issues through the use of film."

The documentary may be found at www.hundredcats.org online. Warning: This graphic documentary shows actual surgery to spay or neuter cats. The Hundred Cat Foundation provides access to low-cost spay/neuter services and food for people caring for colonies of feral cats. It also helps find homes for socialized cats and provides education and outreach about management of feral and stray cats.

The foundation was created in 2005 when 121 cats were found left behind in a foreclosed house in Centre Hall, Pa. With that initial rescue mission as the impetus, the foundation has grown into an award-winning organization that has helped serve, rescue and place thousands of cats.

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Last Updated July 18, 2011