Two best friends contemplate the meaning of life and death as they try to decide the best way to put a pet ferret out of its misery...with their own hands.
Based on a true story, "The Death of James" tells the unique journey of two young friends grappling with mortality as they are confronted with the impending loss of a cherished pet ferret. Humorous, awkward, and deeply heartbreaking, the film takes an unflinching look at death, loss, euthanasia, and the uncertainties that may or may not follow, viewed through the eyes of two characters navigating these challenges for the first time.
Renowned animation filmmaker Sam Chou and acclaimed writer Ellery Vandooyeweert, known for their award-winning collaborations, reunite to deliver a compelling dramatic short film, “The Death Of James.”
Kyle Bailey, a Canadian actor, takes on the role of Kevin, deeply troubled by the impending loss of his pet, causing sleepless nights. Known for diverse roles, Bailey voiced and motion-captured characters in "Little Hope," the second installment of The Dark Pictures Anthology, alongside his performances in "Speak Now" (2015), "Heartland" (2015), and "Bitten" (2016).
Isaiah Lehtinen takes on the role of Ellery, Kevin's closest companion enlisted as the "idea guy" to navigate the predicament surrounding James, the ailing ferret. A Canadian actor, Lehtinen garnered acclaim for his standout performance in the 2022 film "I Like Movies," securing the award for Best Actor in a Canadian Film at the 2022 Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards.
Amanda Brugel plays Dr. Amanda, the empathetic veterinarian reluctantly called by Ellery in the film. Born in Québec, Canada, Brugel is a versatile actress known for her roles in "The Handmaid's Tale," and "Kim's Convenience." Notably, she received awards for her performances in "Sex After Kids" and has earned accolades, including two Canadian Screen Awards for her work in "Kim's Convenience" and "Canada's Drag Race."
Yes, this is a true story, and Kevin and Ellery are real people—good friends of mine. The events of this film unfolded in the early 2000s in Vancouver's West End, a time when we were young artists embarking on our first jobs in the animation industry.
"The Death of James" is a deeply personal journey inspired by a profound moment between these two inseparable friends. Kevin and Ellery faced a heart-wrenching decision surrounding Kevin's pet ferret, James, setting the stage for a tale that has taken over 10 years to bring to life.
In the film, we immerse ourselves in the lives of two young lads in their early 20s as they confront the imminent loss of their cherished pet ferret. 'The Death of James' invites us into their world, touching on themes like death, the afterlife, faith, and atheism. It's a meaningful exploration that encourages us to reflect on life's mysteries through the eyes of these remarkable individuals.
"The Death of James" delves into how we grapple with death—processing it, fearing it, using humor to distance ourselves from it, and finding solace in our beliefs about the afterlife. Through young Kevin and Ellery's eyes, we get a peek into life's complexities, revealing the quirky, awkward, yet deeply human ways we confront mortality.
This film is a tribute to friendship, a celebration of life's nuances, and a testament to the profound journey we navigate in the face of mortality.
Fun fact: The real-life Ellery crafted this script in 2009, during his days as a budding writing enthusiast. And we've spent the last 10 years chipping away at this passion project.
Despite facing uncertainties throughout the production journey—a decade of trials, and failures, learning the intricate ropes of the animation pipeline, and eventually evolving into a filmmaker myself—this moment fills me with immense joy as I finally unveil this beautiful story to the world.
- Sam Chou
More to come soon!!!
For updates on The Death Of James, see here.