Ever wonder where your cat goes during the day? Juergen Perthold wondered the same thing about his cat, Mr. Lee. The cat was adopted as a stray, and had a habit of staying out for days at a time, making his owners wonder if their lovable feline had a secret life, or even a second family he was conning into feeing him.
Mr. Perthhold happens to be an engineer specializing in optics, so he was able to build his own tiny camera that took continuous photos for Mr. Lee to wear around his collar during his afternoon ambles. The ancient riddle of the Sphinx would soon be solved.
The photos Mr. Lee the cat returned with were beautiful, hilarious, sweet, and seemed oddly artfully intentional. It turns out that Mr. Lee wandered much farther out of his neighborhood than his owners realized, and that he was friendly with several other neighborhood cats.
Director Seth Keal's short documentary about Mr. Lee's camera and the subsequent media attention it received debuted at SXSW Film this week. The film captures the quirkiness of Jurgen Perthold, Mr. Lee's human owner, and includes video footage from a second model camera Perthold created.
After Perthold posted the images from the camera on a the site HackADay, a deluge of requests of requests from other pet owners to get their own cameras came in.
I asked Keal and his producer, Charles Miller if they were worried that popularity of cats filming might put them as a filmmakers out of a job. "No. Absolutely not," he said.