Used with permission of Miken Entertainment
Behind the camera is Nate Wentzell, the Director
Love for family is beyond fur deep.
The crew assembles for an interview segment
at Hillside Acre
Love is for everyone,
even those who are ‘unknown.’
Gail Scott-Key at Hillside Acre in
John Campanello at Proctor Animal Cemetery in
Nashua, New Hampshire.
Following the completion and premiere of “Larry’s Home Video”, I was invited to be the guest on a public access talk show called “Hollywood New England”, a joint production of Autumn Drive Productions and Miken Entertainment. The program highlighted the arts and entertainment scene in the region and was hosted by veteran newscaster, Ms. Gail Scott-Key and local casting director, Mr. John Campanello. After the episode was filmed, I was asked to stay on as Assistant Director and later Director of many episodes.
I befriended one of the show’s producers, Ken Lawrence, who also had a writing background. After one taping, he and I went out for coffee and he pitched me his idea for a documentary short about pet cemeteries. Initially, my thoughts gravitated to the popular Stephen King novel. He quickly put those ideas to rest, pardon the pun, and explained that it was to be a project about something historical and emotional.
He told me that he wanted the piece to talk about war dogs, but also the love people have for their pets. Their shared devotion, he told me made their pets practically members of the family rather than just ownership of an animal. His passion for the idea and my lifelong interest in history and drive to tell stories that matter hastened me to agree to co-write the script with him and direct the project.
In the summer of 2008, with a small crew including John and Gail as our hosts, we traveled to two pet cemeteries to mount the production; Hillside Acre in Methuen, Massachusetts and Proctor Animal Cemetery in Nashua, NH. In just three days, we interviewed many interesting people including pet owners, pet grief therapist, caretakers, and heard numerous personal stories and histories of these beloved family members and the storied locations were they and tens of thousands of others had been given a final resting place.
EXT. HILLSIDE ACRE – DAY
Over shots of headstones, rolling greens, and buildings that is Hillside Acre in Methuen, Massachusetts, the burial place for over 18,000 animals.
While many people have never heard of animal cemeteries, others may question their necessity or practicality. After all, they say, “It’s just an animal.” But, for many people who chose this peaceful place to say, “Good bye,” to their pets, they’ll tell you they don’t just think of their furry friend as just an animal. But, as a member of their family, who deserves to be treated with dignity and respect in death as in life. To give something in return, for the unconditional love, their pets gave to them.
All photos courtesy of Alex Keown and Jessica Correia