Shooting Cats - National Conversation Piece

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"Shooting Cats" is a short-form documentary for VICE Australia's tentpole series called Australiana.

In Shooting Cats VICE set out to explore the consequences of Australia's feral cat plague, and confront the uncomfortable and violent realities of dealing with it. Most suburban Australians give feral cats little thought. But for residents of the country’s rural fringes, they’re a diabolical pest and scourge on wildlife....

The Armidale Express reported the short film was one of four finalist at this year's Pitch Australiana competition, it took out the $50,000 award for writer and director Inday Ford and producer Dylan Blowen on March 6.

Australiana aims to present diverse portraits of modern Australia and this documentary certainly fits into the "diverse" category. Ms Ford hoped it would be controversial because she believed a national conversation needed to be had about the assassins of the bush.

The film aims to spark conversation on the destruction feral cats are causing. It explores the control of these native killing machines.

Recreational hunter Ben Smith lives at Wollomombi and appeared in the film. With numbers estimated at 4 million throughout Australia, he thought the feral cat issue needed to be addressed and believed the Australian bush would be better off without feral cats.

"I consider any form of hunting vermin and invasive species as conservation," he said.

"They all have an impact on our native wildlife. I suppose, if you could save 1000 native animals by pulling the trigger on one feral cat then no-one could argue that that's not conservation."

Ben thought people had an ingrained attachment to cats in general.

"They've been portrayed as a cuddly domestic animal, but taken out of that environment they're exactly the opposite," he said.

Writer and director of Shooting Cats Inday Ford said she thought the film would definitely be a point for discussion, and bring interest and attention to what she believed was an environmental topic. 

"From what I have read, and there was a recent study that was published this year, is that feral cats cover 99.8 per cent of Australia, which is a huge area," she said.

Ms Ford thought people had become very familiar with cats and had developed a soft spot for them because they were possibly unaware of of the damage they caused in the wild. She thought education could possibly help people understand how huge the loss of native species was.

"I do understand it can be a difficult subject, especially if they own cats of their own," she said.

"I directed Shooting Cats with the intention of breaking down cultural barriers and judgement by taking an intimate look into the lives of three unlikely conservationists who kill feral cats for their love of the Australian native wildlife.

"So, what do we do? It is this very question I wanted to explore in my film, without the prejudice towards the people who are on the front line battling the war on feral cats."

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