Director Tim Armstrong’s work has gone to the dogs

Actor James Gordon and Scooter the Ultra-Beagle

Actor James Gordon and Scooter the Ultra-Beagle

The filmmaker
captures pets and
owners in a video to
support an industry
“Pet Rescue Party”
at Biagio on Dec. 8

Director Tim Armstrong unleashed a pack of lovable dogs in a video invitation for a December 8 benefit party supporting the Chicagoland Rescue Intervention & Support Program (CRISP), an organization dedicated to helping Windy City pets and their families “stay healthy and stay together.”

The five-minute piece features testimonials from people who have rescued canines, as well as one cat owner, all appearing with their pets. It combines Armstrong’s love of animals and inspiration to “do something different for the holidays” with an idea that came from his long-time friend and Post Meridian cinematographer, Paolo Cascio.

“A few weeks ago, Paolo called me and said, ‘why don’t we shoot this video of people and their rescued pets and mention a charity at the end,’” recalls Armstrong, a Studio Mechanics Local 476 member who, together with fiancé Jill Rymer, has adopted two dogs and two cats.

“Chicago’s a big pet-friendly city, and most people who have pets either adopted or rescued them,” he continues. “So it seemed like a natural fit.”

The party takes place December 8 at Biagio Events & Catering, 4242 North Central Avenue, on Chicago’s northwest side. Co-sponsor for the event is Chicago production vehicle rental company GigRig, which is owned by dog lover Kevin Footlik.



According to its website, CRISP is a rescue organization that, “pool(s) the resources of seven local rescues to work in concert with Chicago Animal Care and Control.” The organization provides a myriad of services, including representing people who are faced with landlord and rental issues involving pets.

When Armstrong put out a call seeking pets and their rescuers to appear in the video to help support the organization, he was overwhelmed with responses.

“I described a PSA-style video in a Facebook post, and within a few days the roster was full,” he recalls. “People just jumped all over it. I had to turn people away. I knew right then we were on to something.”

Among those who jumped on it was Lucy Rendler-Kaplan. The founder of Arkay Marketing, Rendler-Kaplan “took this thing by the horns and took it to another level,” says Armstrong.

“Biagio is one of her clients,” he explains. “She knew that they were dog lovers.”

With Rendler-Kaplan leading the way, the party not only found a home at Biagio, but it also gained additional sponsors, raffle prizes, and advertising on WGN and DO312, among other outlets.

Uptown Shakedown
Uptown Shakedown

Besides food and drink, the evening’s agenda includes live music. Profits of Metal will open for Uptown Shakedown, featuring Armstrong on guitar and vocals.

The studio and gear were donated by Post Meridian — the Schaumburg-based media design and production company known for “specializing in the impossible” — where Armstrong signed on as a Freelance Director last September.

He and Cascio, who handled DP responsibilities for the shoot, wrangled nearly half-a-dozen pets and owners during the extended session last Tuesday.

“The most challenging part was coordinating the in-and-out of pets and owners,” he says. “There were never two sets of animals and owners in the building at the same time to prevent scuffles or distractions or pets wanting to play.”

Besides watching people “light up when they told their stories,” Armstrong says that seeing happy pets made the day most enjoyable.

“As opposed to laying around and being motionless, the pets were excited and upbeat and curious to check everything out,” he says. “Their tails were wagging and they were actually smiling at some points.”

Indeed, the stories write themselves. Editor Curtis Schmidt and his sons could not resist the sweet expression on the face of their mixed breed, Gracie. Retired Chicago police officer Andrea Scherer helped transform her lapdog Helen into “the life of the party.” Actor James Gordon rescued an “ultra-Begal” named Scooter from a canine abuser during a confrontation that played out like a chapter from Call of the Wild.

A cat also makes a stealthy appearance, like cats often do. A furry feline named Luna, she nestles serenely on the shoulder of actor Katelyn Lane, who describes her pet as, “my everything.”

To view more information and RSVP to the Chicago Film Pet Rescue Party, click here.


   Tim Armstrong — Director, Editor
   Paolo Cascio — Director Photography
   Adam Smith — Sound Mixer

Send your film event updates to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton,