Interview: Alison Parker Finds Movie Magic in Kids with Ferrets

The Vancouver-based indie filmmaker explains why she loves working with children and certain small, furry animals.

By , Columnist

Tony Lee

Jacob Tremblay plays six-year-old orphan Sam in The Magic Ferret.

In the summer of 2011, TMR interviewed Vancouver-based independent filmmaker Alison Parker as she was wrapping up her short film drama, Jake and Jasper: A Ferret Tale. That movie, about a small boy who finds respite from grief after his mother’s death when he adopts a ferret, is a touching tale of friendship.

Jake and Jasper is an expression of Parker’s commitment to improve the public image of pet mustelids. These intelligent animals are a common sight in pet stores but are not appreciated by everyone and are classed as illegal pets in California, along with lions, chimps, and gerbils.

Far from giving up on her PR campaign after Jake and Jasper was complete, Parker began work on two more movies in which ferrets are front and center: a feature-length film called The Ferret Squad and another short titled The Magic Ferret, which is about to be released on DVD.

The Magic Ferret is about six-year-old orphan named Sam who can't seem to find a family. When the newest prospective parents come to visit, Sam decides to impress them with a few magic tricks. He becomes "The Great Sambini" with Booger, his pet ferret, as his assistant. Unfortunately their most amazing trick flops, but Sam manages to conjure up a different kind of magic with the help of his four-legged friend.

When TMR was back in Vancouver recently we caught up with Parker to find out why she is so passionate about putting her favorite furry animals in the public eye.

What inspired you to make The Magic Ferret?

I have several feature films that are in development, which can be a very long process, so I just needed to make something. I have to keep the creative juices flowing. Life is really boring for me when I'm not making movies. My last short film, Jake & Jasper: A Ferret Tale, was funded by ferret lovers around the world on IndieGoGo, so I hoped that if I made another short film about a ferret, it might have the same kind of support. Luckily that turned out to be the case!

The lead role is played by 6-year-old Jacob Tremblay. What can you tell me about him?

Jacob is an awesome little boy! He's so adorable, everyone just falls in love with him and wants to kidnap him instantly. He's just like any other kid, but he's also very talented and professional. Before The Magic Ferret, he played the son of Neil Patrick Harris in The Smurfs 2. Currently he's filming a lead role in a horror feature film called Somnia with Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane. I'm not surprised he's doing so well because he's a great little actor and has a lot of potential if he decides to stick with acting as he gets older. I've also worked with his sister, Emma Tremblay, who was in Elysium, played the daughter of Robert Downey Jr. in The Judge this summer, and is currently filming The Giver in South Africa, playing the daughter of Katie Holmes.

You also have some familiar faces from Canadian and American television in this case. How were you able to secure them?

My motto is, "You never know unless you ask." I always try to get the best actors I can because having great actors makes my job so much easier. I learn a lot from them! I was super happy to get Fred Ewanuick (Corner Gas, Dan For Mayor) to play Mr. Parker, Beverley Elliott (Once Upon a Time) for Mrs. Rassenti, and Lisa Durupt (Less Than Kind) for Mrs. Parker. I got Fred and Lisa through their agents. I sent Beverley a message on Facebook. They all liked the script so that was all it took. I guess it also helps that they all live in Vancouver.

This is your third ferret movie. Why are you so keen to make movies about these animals?

I have two pet ferrets so it's something I know about and I don't see anybody else out there making ferret movies, so why not? With everything that I do, I try to be original. I hate to do things that have already been done. I don't see the point unless you are going to make it different in some way. And ferrets are really cute and smart. They look like little teddy bears or baby raccoons. We need more ferrets being shown positively in the media. They get a bad rap, but it's all BS. Ferrets are awesome.

Alison Parker image copyright Bettina Strauss

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Michael Simpson is a freelance writer, editor, presenter, researcher, instructor, gadget freak and sci-tech consultant based in British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. Formerly from the UK, he’s converted from tea to coffee and written and presented on film, TV, science, nature, technology,…

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