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Slammin’ Shelter Videos, Part 1: Get the Parody Started

For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing tips on making effective, fun—and heck, even easy and hopefully viral—videos for your agency. Today’s post does include some shameless promotion of my own cat, but I’d really like to show off YOU—so if your shelter’s got a great video, email the link to me at and tell me what you did that was especially effective that I can pass on to others. Just think, you can be featured in a future installment of Slammin’ Shelter Videos!

Today we’ll be discussing the sacred art form known as the song parody. Visions of Weird Al Yankovic aside, this can be a fun, creative exercise involving your whole community and a great way to get your message out there.

Exhibit A: San Francisco SPCA’s “Cat Romance,” produced by volunteer Cristian Gonzales as part of the social media team lead by Laura Gretch, Community Development Specialist

Ready to make one, too? Here are some tips to get you started:

Choose a song that’s really well known. “All That Jazz” from the musical Chicago was a perfect fit for the video we created in honor of the Feline Forum conference that took place in, ah, Chicago. And SFSPCA’s choice of Lady Gaga? Oh, well, she’s only got about 12,521,658 Facebook fans. It’ll be easier to write lyrics if you know the tune well. P.S. The cat in the hat in our vid? That’s Bing, my 14 ½-years-young ASPCA shelter alum.Make a list of phrases that you want to incorporate in your lyrics, suggests the ASPCA’s Elyse Orecchio, Associate Editor, Internet Communications & Social Media and star of “All Those Cats.” This is helpful if you have a specific message or detailed info to include. “For example,” explains Elyse, “we knew we wanted to find a place to rhyme ‘sterile’ and ‘feral.’” Take time to find good places to plug these phrases in.

Get a backing track. If you don’t know a piano accompanist or guitarist, purchase a karaoke track online for a couple of bucks. Can’t carry a tune and have two left feet? “Put out a call for singers and dancers in your community who will strut their stuff for a good cause,” says Elyse. Don’t make it too complicated. “Some of the best ideas come from the simplest of concepts,” say Laura and Cristian. “However, we can’t stress this enough: FILM, FILM, FILM. You never know which shots and scenes are going to be the ones you end up using. It’s better to have too much than too little.” P.S. A word on equipment—don’t stress if you don’t have a fancy camera. Most digital cameras have a video camera, and can work just fine. Have a decent program to work on. Although “Cat Romance” was done with Final Cut, which helped Laura and Cristian incorporate some fun, silly Photoshop work and vector lines for the shots and movements, they assure us it doesn’t need to be that complicated. “Windows MovieMaker and iMovie are two free editing programs that allow you to add subtitles and special effects to your movie,” adds Elyse. Don’t know how to use that decent program? “Hop on YouTube,” advise Laura and Cristian. “Type in keywords like ‘iMovie tutorial’ and ‘Windows MovieMaker tutorial’ and you will have plenty of tutorials come up that can show you how to edit and create movies in those programs.” Have fun. Per Laura and Cristian: “If you’re off-key while filming, if your camera work is a little shaky, if your lyrics are kinda goofy, if your Lady—err—Kitty Gaga looks weird, if things don’t go exactly as planned once you start filming…it’s OK.” If you’re having fun making it, people will have fun watching it. Got any tips—or links to videos you’ve created—to add? Leave ‘em in the comment box.



Hi ASPCA pro blog team,

I wanted to say a big thank you for talking to your readers about our little video "Cat Romance." Laura and the rest of the SFSPCA team are such a terrific group of people to work with---and I'm glad our little Lady Gaga creation has become such a popular hit among the social media community, and is helping spread the word about the wonderful cats at the shelter.

Thanks again. :-)

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