How to Not Kill Animals When we Killed Animals Last Summer

During the shooting of the film, we took extreme measures not to get blood on our hands. In fact, no animals were killed or harmed during the shooting of this film. Before pre-production, we created an animal policy document to be sure to handle all animals carefully and not to injure or kill any of them. Even the killing of the ants is made by special effects on set and visual effects in post-production. We accomplished this mainly by switching the live animal for an already dead animal and paint away “the switch” in post-production.

The task of finding both live and – from natural causes – dead animals was not easy. Production designer/special effects director Agustín Moreaux spent weeks together with his assistants finding all the animals and figuring out different solutions to the problem. Visual effects director Fredrik Borg spent weeks in post-production painting and animating the animals. A big portion of the budget and the effort we made while shooting the film is directly related to the policy – not to kill or injure any animals in the film.

Why did we take such measures? Well, the answer is just as vaguely morally correct as the father’s actions in the film. Most of the cast and crew ate meat during the production and we probably killed ants and insects just driving around the production vehicles. So the answer is – gut feeling. For me it doesn’t feel right to sacrifice an animal for the sake of a film.

“Where animals sacrificed?” is a question that grows in the audience during the course of the film. It might be one of the stronger feelings that the film stirs up. Normally, I would find it disturbing to feel the presence of the filmmaker during the film, but in “Animals I Killed Last Summer” the meta-questions of how we shot the film are the same questions raised in it.

The anger the audience might feel against the filmmaker is similar to the anger the father feels towards his son. That is why we decided not to have a big disclaimer at the start of the film and just leave a small notation of “No animals were killed or injured in the production of this film” in the end credits.

We expect the film to get very different reactions in different parts of the world. In more rural parts, where killing animals is part of the daily routine, the subject of this film is probably a bit ridiculous, whereas in more urban places, the film is very upsetting. During its premiere in Stockholm, Sweden, in November 2012, a man in the audience screamed out in anger: “MURDERER!”



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