When social-distancing began in mid-March, actors, musicians and athletes quickly hopped online to entertain and advise from their living rooms. These face to face interactions helped ease our feelings of social isolation.  But lockdown wasn’t only affecting us – it was also a big adjustment for our pets.  Animal, a creative studio based in Pittsburgh, who created the ABC series Downward Dog, are particularly tuned into the feelings of their furry families. Almost every Animal employee has a pet they bring to the studio with them every day, so being sent home affected them almost as much as it affected their humans.

The studio created a series of shorts showcasing how pets were adjusting to quarantine.  “We wanted a fresh way to connect with the global circumstances while bringing voice to our dogs and cats, said Animal’s Michael Killen. With a lock down on all non-essential businesses, the first challenge was to develop stories that could be shot safely, at home.” 

The team read through ten script ideas, before deciding to move forward with six, each based on the personality of the pet and their people. The storylines vary from heartfelt to silly to informative.  Killen’s own cats explain the importance of social distancing, while producer Ally Oleynik’s black lab, Yogi, isn’t sure why people are avoiding her on walks.  Frankie, a food motivated Italian Greyhound, who lives with producer Olivia Vaughn, wishes her human’s appetite would go back to pre-pandemic levels. The production and camera work was accomplished by VFX artists, editors, producers, animators, motion designers and directors. Everyone rose to the challenge to make their living rooms a mini set in order to tell a story starring their pet.

With help from strategist Dan Ayer of Field General, we focused mainly on Facebook, then Instagram, then finally a resting spot for the campaign on our Vimeo site. The views and feedback have been tremendous with the series collectively receiving more than 250,000 views and thousands of shares

“We were compelled to shoot something when it was impossible to do so, and enjoyed seeing the reactions from pet lovers across the world, said Killen.   We wanted to get the message across that we’re all in this together and our pets are helping us get through, each in their own unique way.”

View the shorts in the "Be Calm" Series and credits below or visit Vimeo here: https://vimeo.com/showcase/7091423








Screenwork Credits

Created by Lenny Wilson and Michael Killen.
Executive Producer:  Kathy Dziubek.
Producers:  Ally Oleynik, Olivia Vaughn, Amy Kersnick and Nathan Voltz.
Editors: Beth Voltz, Doug Helmick, Alesis Heaps and Lenny Wilson.
VFX: Lenny Wilson
Color and finishing: Allan Stallard.
Directors: Beth Voltz, Alesis Heaps, Olivia Vaughn & Nate Inglesby, Ally Oleynik & Doug Helmick, Maureen Connors-McBride & Lenny Wilson and Michael Killen.
Digital Strategy: Dan Ayer, Field General. 
Cast: Beatrice, Yogi, Arry, Tobi, Frankie, Logan, Tyr, Bonzo and Eo. 
VO Talent: Avery Davis, Ally Oleynik, Aaron Kleiber, Felicia Greenfield, Nicholas Richardson, Ian Hunt, Juliet Voltz