10 Jul 2015

Loading Docs: Conversations With Pets

8:51 am on 10 July 2015

Loading Docs is a launching pad for New Zealand short documentaries which has just released 10 new films. We’ll be featuring each of the films and profiling the directors behind them. 


Have you ever wondered what your pets think of you? Or which animals are the funniest?

Faye Rogers can answer those questions for you.

The animal communicator from Christchurch is the subject of Conversations With Pets, a three-minute Loading Docs documentary directed by Justin Hawkes and Ian Hart.

Soon after the filmmakers arrived in Christchurch, Roger’s skills were put to the test when she was contacted via Skype by an American client concerned about her lost kitten.

“She started communicating with this lost kitten in America, she was really nervous, we could hear through the microphone her heart beat start racing, like she was so involved in the moment – [historically] she didn’t want to be filmed before [now] so it was really quite exciting,” Hawkes says.

“She starts channelling the kitten, she put herself inside the kitten and was telling the client ‘I see this, and I see that,’ it was a great bit of drama that we weren’t expecting. I loved that moment because I felt like it wasn’t something I’ve seen before.”

Hawkes, who works as a story producer for Dancing with the Stars, and comes from a travel documentary background, has always enjoyed seeking out the unusual.

“I’d always wanted to do something with a pet communicator, so we started looking for someone in New Zealand and she was one of the leading lights - in the pet communicating world she’s quite big.”

“On face she just seems like this nice, suburban Christchurch woman, [and] then she’s got this amazing ability.”

In the course of their filming, Rogers talked to a variety of different animals from dogs to spiders.

On face she just seems like this nice, suburban Christchurch woman, [and] then she’s got this amazing ability.

“There was an overweight cat that was really embarrassed about being fat, talking about its diet, because it was there during the Christchurch earthquake,  and to comfort itself, it had eaten a lot of food, to get away from the shock.

“We met a spider that was just annoyed she’d taken down its cobwebs… [and] apparently guinea pigs are really funny … It was good to know, from her perspective, that animals have characters,” Hawkes says.

Hawkes enjoys watching and creating documentaries, and had been interested in making a Loading Docs production for a while. “It’s great, even though it’s quite small, somewhere where people can have a go at making documentaries in New Zealand.”

Filming for two days meant there was footage that didn’t make the final cut, but for Hawkes, who produces short bites for TV, three minutes offered him a lot of creative freedom.

“I work on Dancing with the Stars, where every week I make a 1:15 story on celebrities and their story for that week, so three minutes is like a lifetime for me. But it is challenging, because we filmed for two days and wanted to do so many cool things,” he says.

With platforms such as Loading Docs available, and filmmaking equipment becoming more readily available and user-friendly, Hawkes urges those interesting in filmmaking to start creating stories.

“Everyone has a story it’s just finding that story you want to tell and going out and filming it, even if it is three minutes. I had such a good experience doing this.”

With the film completed, the next step for Hawkes and Hart is to send their documentary over to the States.

“There’s a film festival in America called PetDance, and our little dream is to see if we can get it into that. Everyone can get into Sundance, but [not] PetDance!”

Story by Elizabeth Beattie.