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Catch the pick of the litter at Catdance fest

On a shelf inside Light Forge Studios, one award stands out among all the rest — the Gold Litter Scoop.

Brothers and local filmmakers Mike and Jerry Thompson were awarded the scoop along with $25,000 when they took home the grand prize from the 2016 Catdance Film Festival.

“You always have the hope you’ll win,” says Mike Thompson, the film’s director and vice president of Light Forge Studios. “It did come as a shock though.”

The honor was for their short film, “The Purfect Patsy,” which tells the story of a clown, a cat and a dog. The movie features local actor and entertainer Gregory Popovich, who has worked with the Thompsons on several films.

This award is a long time in the making.

Mike and Jerry Thompson have been working on films since the ’90s. In 2004, they started doing movies and other types of videos full time.

The brothers eventually launched Light Forge Studios in 2008. Along with making movies, they do equipment rental, sound design, visual FX and motion graphics and video production.

The company has made commercials, music videos and Web series.

Working with Popovich for many of their adventures, they have produced feature-length films such as “Thor at the Bus Stop” and “Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West,” which is about a struggling Las Vegas street performer.

In the movie, Popovich’s character is faced with trouble at his junkyard home, and solves it by creating a circus show with stray animals. Though fictional, Popovich really works with animals at Planet Hollywood in “World Famous Popovich Comedy Pet Theater.” The pets in the show are from local animal shelters.

When a friend noticed “Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West” featured a lot of dogs and cats, he recommended they look into the Catdance Film Festival.

The festival, which is put on by Fresh Step cat litter, started four years ago to find the best cat-friendly videos and films.

“People love cat videos on the Internet,” Jerry Thompson says. “It makes sense to have a film festival like this.”

The only problem was the film festival was looking for shorter movies.

Not to be discouraged, the Thompsons decided to create a new film to submit.

“It is essentially a prequel to the feature film,” Mike Thompson says.

“The Purfect Patsy” was inspired by the era of Charlie Chaplin. Set to the score of local band A Crowd of Small Adventures, the movie is otherwise silent.

“I think the music really makes the film,” Mike Thompson says.

They accepted the award in January.

“This is a very generous festival,” Jerry Thompson says.

Mike Thompson hasn’t looked at the rules for Catdance, but if it is permitted he foresees future submissions.

With the award money, which is divided evenly among the brothers and Popovich, they hope to fund more feature-length films.

“I do plan on giving my cats some toys, too,” Popovich says. “They deserve it.”

To watch “The Purfect Patsy” and other Catdance finalists, visit www.freshstep.com/cat-love/catdance-festival-2016/

Contact reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5201. Follow @mjlyle on Twitter.

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