Feral cat film crew covered Cornwall election night

A two-man film crew from Markham Street Films captures Mayor-elect Bernadette Clement's victory scrum with reporters on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018 at the Cornwall Civic Complex. The crew was there on a R&D project for a documentary on feral cats. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – People celebrating a big win for councillors and the Cornwall’s first female mayor may find themselves in a worldwide documentary on feral cats.

A two-person film crew from Markham Street Films of Toronto was shooting inside the Cornwall Civic Complex salons Monday night. A paper notice was posted outside the doors to the venue advising anyone who didn’t want to be in the film, dubbed “Cats Gone Wild”, to approach them.

Aaron Hancox, vice president of unscripted content with Markham Street Films, told Cornwall Newswatch the crew was shooting as part of research and development.

“We’re starting a documentary about feral cats, not just in Cornwall, but kind of all over the world and we’re interested in people who are trying to find solutions and innovative solutions,” Hancox said.

They were drawn to Cornwall by cat advocate Mary Jane Proulx, who ran for council. She finished with 1,532 votes.

In this provided photo, a notice is posted outside the doors to the Cornwall Civic Complex salons advising people that a film crew is capturing events inside. The crew is doing research and development for a possible future documentary on feral cats. (Calvin Killoran via Newswatch Group)

Hancox says the name “Cats Gone Wild,” which sounds a lot like a risque 90s college spring break video series, is just a “working title” and people should not draw any inferences that it’s some sort of prank or a slight against the city’s first woman mayor.

“Definitely not. That’s not the intention at all. That’s just a working title. We’re actually going to be working with the Ontario SPCA. They are doing a working cats program. And we’ve also been in touch with the University of Guelph with a PhD candidate there, Elizabeth Gow, who’s doing really interesting work in setting up trail cameras and studying the feral cat population in Guelph…studying them really as wild animals rather than as domestic pets because they are now being regarded as an invasive species so they pose all kinds of ecological threats and that’s why the title’s Cats Gone Wild,” Hancox explained.

In fact, Hancox said being there coincidentally when the first female mayor of colour was elected in Ontario is “fantastic” and “we are really honoured that we got to capture something historic happen.”

Hancox said the documentary, which is still in research and development, was not prompted solely by the cat problems in Cornwall. “It’s a global look but we’re interested in Canadian stories. Cornwall is just a story where there is something active and ongoing so that’s why we’re here.”

He said there’s no guarantee the film will be produced. “It’s would be premature to say what’s going to be happening with it. We certainly hope it becomes a film.” He said the emphasis is on people trying to find solutions to feral cats.

Cats are nothing new to the production company. It’s already produced a doc on cat shows called “Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit”.

Hancox said they were at the public event under the privilege afforded to journalists covering election night. “We hadn’t planned on filming there but we were just following some of the characters we were filming so we went in and filmed because it’s a public event because it’s open to all press and all media.”

Cornwall Civic Complex Facilities Rental Coordinator Janice Robinson said film crews have to have permission to be shooting inside the complex. “I was very surprised. Our office knew nothing of it. Nobody made any arrangements or any plans prior to (filming).”

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