By Rich Henrich

One of the main messages of my show is to bring attention for animal shelters, and the many homeless pets and rescue efforts out there. Gregory Popovich

Popovich, according to the International Juggling Association is the “the best juggler in the world.” He is an ex-circus legend struggling as a street performer in the wild west streets of Las Vegas. When his junkyard home full of stray animals gets into trouble, he and his animal buddies use all their circus tricks to save it. “All my pets in my shows have been rescued by animal shelters, I feel it’s my mission to ‘payback’ animal shelters and try to help other pets if I have this opportunity,” says Gregory Popovich. This family friendly film will entertain all ages and will amaze you when you see how one man has made such an impact in not only saving the lives of these animals but also training them so they provide joy to millions the world over. The film will play at the Mary Pickford Theatre on Sunday Nov. 16th at 3pm as part of the family-friendly line up at AMFM Fest: art. Music. film. more presented by Cathedral City.

Gone Doggy Gone is a comedy about a couple stuck in a lackluster marriage who treat their dog like a baby. Working the grind in Los Angeles they leave little time for each other and what free time they have they spend doting on the dog… until it gets kidnapped! What ensues is an outlandish cat and mouse adventure as they hunt down the kidnapper, enlist a slick dick P.I., find a renewed love for each other, and conquer their fear of parenthood.

The film was inspired by actress, co-director and writer, Kasi Brown, who had a dog-walker who began to bring her dog, Laila (also starring in the movie), home later and later after visits. She took Laila to the movies, grocery store and even her waxing appointments. She called Laila her BFF. This relationship, prompted Brandon and Kasi to beg the question, what if she just decided to keep Laila for herself?

Kasi Brown and Brandon Walter began collaborating after hitting it off in an Upright Citizen’s Brigade Improv class, and formed Buzzworm Films with the intention of producing a quality sketch comedy show as well as feature films using UCB trained actors. During the summer of 2009, Brandon and Kasi began producing the “Mother Approved” sketch web-series. It wasn’t long before they made the front page of Funny or Die as a user pick (February 12, 2010) and two-time editor pick. In 2011, Atom.com (Comedy Central’s Web Site) made them an Atom Pick and awarded them a cash prize. From there, they began to build an audience and fan base. They caught the eye of Desperate Housewives Executive Producer, Larry Shaw, who stated, “Mother Approved is the cure for the common comedy!” and actor Michael Vartan who says, “Mother Approved comedy rocks! Itʼs hilarious and weird, and finally explains all the crap you’ve been so freaked out about your whole life.”

Their Phobia series, which examines real life bizarre phobias and how people deal with them, recently won best Mobiseries at the prestigious ITV Festival and acquired distribution through Fun Little Movies.

The co-Directors say, “There are many films about dogs as beloved pets, police partners, even basketball stars, but few films about dogs as babies. Over the last few years we began to notice an alarming rise in Los Angeles pet owners pushing their fully clothed ‘babies’ around in strollers and stuffing them into Bjorns for ‘walks.’ Which begs the question, why the heck would they do this?

They observed closely and deduced that for some, these pets are “starter babies”. They get to practice at being parents before actually making the leap into the ultimate responsibility. For others, the attention they place on babying their pets takes the heat off dealing with their struggling marriages. But mainly, the way people baby their dogs is hilarious to us.

With ‘Gone Doggy Gone’ we set out to comically explore how people use pets to avoid dealing with their relationship issues. We (writers/directors Kasi Brown and Brandon Walter) met in an Upright Citizen’s Brigade Improv class and spent three years feeding our passion for exploring bizarre human behavior with our web-based sketch comedy show, Mother Approved. The natural progression from there was to write and direct our first feature film. We thought that it would be interesting to apply very serious iconic kidnapping movies, Ransom, Silence of the Lambs, Gone Baby Gone, to a couple stuck in a lack-luster marriage who considered their dog to be their “baby”. We also knew that it could be a small film, something we could make ourselves with limited resources, utilizing the skills we acquired from producing our sketch comedy show.

The time was also ripe. Kasi suffered a back injury that had her laid out for 6 months and when she finally healed she was eager to grab every opportunity life had to offer and Brandon and his fiancé announced they had a baby boy coming. We knew it was a now or never situation. We went into high gear, campaigning on Indiegogo for funds, scrapping from friends and family and once we had enough funds to shoot, we built a creative team that was able to support our vision with a small budget, lots of locations and an overly ambitious schedule. We shared our experience by hiring people who were also looking to grow creatively, or learn a new position on set that big budget productions would not allow them.

“With this film, we hope to illuminate how people use their pets to avoid communicating with each other, in the hopes that they stop acting like idiots,.. oh and heal.” Catch it Saturday Nov. 15th as part of the AMFM Fest: art. music. film. more presented by Cathedral City www.amfmfest.com.

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