Not a Pet

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Andrea Walji

Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

There have been many, films such as “Racing Extinction”, “An Apology To Elephants” and Black Fish”, as well as the many photographers who helped make the wonderful photography book “Photographers Against Wildlife Crime” have inspired me.


What motivated you to make this impact video?

The illegal trade in live animals has to be stopped, and the use of social media to trade them needs to be stopped, so we made this film to highlight this trade and get people to stop liking such images on social media.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

RED Gemini


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your impact video to help tell your story.

I think the use of Instagram and other social media clips in our film heightens the impact.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

This story has been evolving for 7 years since I first started following the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Over the years as I got to know them and their work well, I started to work on the story linking the illegal trade in live cheetahs with other live exotic animals caught in the pet trade, with social media. So this film turned out to be quite different than where it started; what was going to be a longer film on cheetah conservation turned into a short impact film on the illegal pet trade.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film.

Filming in Namibia was a life changing experience, it’s a beautiful country indeed. However, the most rewarding experience has to be having the film seen in so many film festivals and reaching a wide audience and spreading the important message.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

When you find good stories and your heart believes in them, go for it! It’s all about your own belief in a story and how you can make a difference through your filmmaking.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

Writing and researching the story is hugely interesting but my favourite part is filming on location. Being in nature, seeing the wildlife, interviewing the people on the ground making a difference!


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why? 

A journal and pen to make notes, sketches, and keep a journal of every single day spent out there. I keep them all and often reread them as a source of information, memories, and nostalgia.


Please provide a brief description of the work or organization featured in your video:

The Cheetah Conservation Fund is tangibly making a difference to the wild cheetah population by educating local farmers against shooting cheetahs and instead using guardian dogs to protect their livestock from the cheetahs. CCF also intercept poachers and smugglers in Somaliland and rescue the cubs and take them to a safehouse. Without them, there may not be any wild cheetahs left!


What have you learned about the value and impact of the project?

This project has opened up many layers of the depth of the illegal wildlife trade, and has opened my eyes to the importance of making more films in this regard to help end the trafficking.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this impact video.

I have personally worked very hard for a few years and self funded this film for the sake of getting the story out to the world. Along the way I have been fortunate enough to spend time with incredible people who have dedicated their lives to helping endangered animals and save them from the illegal trade. Some of these people have become friends and our paths have crossed again and again and we will continue to help each other for the cheetahs!


What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

The goal of this film is for people to stop posing for photos with drugged up captive wild animals, to stop posting these photos on social media, to stop liking these images on social media and to publicly stand up and say that this is not right!


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

What impact does social media has on the parading and trading of wildlife online? What if we as a society make it socially unacceptable to support this behaviour? Do you know that many social media sites are used for the illegal wildlife trade?


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed?

There are current news stories being reported that the issue of cheetah cubs being trafficked from the wild through Somaliland and Ethiopia is increasing due to the demand from the rich in the Middle East. Sadly the problem is worsening, not getting better.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

There are so many ways you can help and get involved! First of all post #notapet and say “NO” to these images on social media. Secondly, contact the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), and others to help.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):



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