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October 27, 2013, 3:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


Outside the Box [Office] and The Paw Project invite you and a guest to a special screening of

The Paw Project

Written, Directed, and Produced
by Jennifer Conrad, DVM
Edited by SCA Faculty Allan Holzman, ACE
Followed by a Q&A with Jennifer Conrad, DVM and Allan Holzman, ACE, SCA Adjunct Professor
3:00 P.M. on Sunday, October 27th, 2013
The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


About The Paw Project

The Paw Project takes us inside the issue of declawing. Sharing testimony from industry professionals and pet-owners alike, The Paw Project examines the emotional and physical cost that a cat pays when declawed; and reveals the profit that the procedure generates for veterinary doctors across the nation. Despite the physical and behavioral harm inflicted on cats that are declawed, many veterinarians continue to recommend the procedure, which costs upwards of $1,200.00 per hour – even for very young kittens. Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Conrad wants it to stop. While it often puts her at odds with many in her professional field, she continues to lead the struggle.

Provided courtesy of The Paw Project. Not rated. Running time: 91 minutes.

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Director's Statement

The film’s origins began in late 1999 when I began to document on video the suffering, and then remarkable recovery, of declawed big cats who had their paws surgically repaired using a reconstructive technique I had developed with a veterinary surgeon colleague. Over and over again, I was seeing animals who, prior to surgery, had been struggling to walk, step by agonizing step. They would recover from surgery and, soon after, be pain free and running and bouncing around. It was like they woke up with new shoes on. One lioness, Naala, refused to let us take her bandages off because she seemed to associate the dressings with her paws no longer hurting. Showing video clips of this lioness to people who were concerned about the animals became an effective way to make sure that people understood the real harm caused by declawing.

I continued filming, documenting the cats before and after surgery. At that time, I had veterinary colleagues independently review the footage and rate a cat's lameness without knowing whether they were looking at a cat before or after repair surgery. When their assessments determined that every cat had had a remarkable and significant improvement in its gait after surgery, I knew we were on to something. Cats whose pre-operative lameness was severe enough to be scored a 5, the worst possible score, were getting scores of 1 or 2 after paw repair. I felt that every affected cat deserved to have paw repair surgery, but knew I couldn't ever catch up with all the paws that needed repairing. We had to stop the declawing before more cats were maimed. I had to get the word out to a wider audience. That's when I decided to make the film.

The Paw Project has repaired the paws of over 75 big cats in about 225 separate surgeries, so there was well over 400 hours of footage of declaw repairs. As I shared my findings, I began to meet more and more people who wanted to help these declawed cats.

I met volunteers at the wildlife sanctuary where I worked at the time who had backgrounds in film production. One of these volunteers, Jan Northrop, an editor for television, wanted to cut a short promotional piece to explain what declawing was and why we wanted funds to repair the paws of the big cats. Harry Hamlin, the well-known actor, narrated that piece for me.

Early on, the film was really about the condition of big cats in America. It wasn't until the win in West Hollywood that the film began to take a broader scope. The documentary came about the plight of all cats and the need to protect them from their own doctors!

The filmmaking process was a learning experience for me and I met with many obstacles along the way. The message, I felt, would be more credible if we offered both sides of the controversy. So we asked various veterinary medical associations for interviews, but were disappointed that none of them were willing to participate. In fact, in my experience, few veterinarians want to publically admit they favor declawing. While looking for a pro- declawing perspective to balance the film, we found a short pro-declaw commercial that the AVMA had posted on YouTube. I believe this commercial was made in anticipation of my film. I think they were trying to head me off at the pass. My film took longer than expected to make, so it worked out great for us. It was a coup to use own material, which I felt was pretty damning for them. I think that once the film is out, the AVMA will have to backtrack. Regardless of what laws get passed, they are going to have to change or else lose in the court of public opinion.

To be honest, I am not entirely comfortable in the role of a filmmaker. I am a veterinarian and naturally a shy person. However, I am confident that this film is good for the cause; I am not sure that it will be good for me professionally. I know that there are many veterinarians who are angry at me, and many veterinary associations have already tried to discredit me. That makes me unhappy, but what makes me push forward is the certainty that no cats will ever be mad at me.

My goal is to put my own nonprofit, also called the Paw Project, out of business. What I mean is that I want to accomplish our goal to make declawing a thing of the past. If I can accomplish that, I would be the happiest person on earth.

When people watch this film, I want them to walk out of that theater feeling inspired. I want them to feel motivated and empowered. So many documentaries about animals present horrible situations without offering much hope for them, leaving the audience leaving the theater in total despair. I didn't want this film to be like that. My editor, Allan Holzman, and I worked hard to make the audience feel that they can do something to right such an obvious wrong. The composer, Bobby Tahouri, really helped, too. His powerful music is very effective for motivating anyone who watches the film.

-- Jennifer Conrad, DVM

About the Guest

JENNIFER CONRAD (Writer/Director/Producer)

Jennifer Conrad, DVM, is an exotic animal veterinarian. Her private practice involves caring for the animals who appear in movies and on TV. She also takes care of animals who have ended up in sanctuaries. She has been an avid animal advocate since early childhood. As a child, her favorite cause was saving whales. Starting at age 11, she constructed life-sized sand sculptures of whales on the beaches of Malibu, her home town, to raise awareness of their plight. After working as a marine mammal veterinarian, Conrad began to work with other animals who were suffering at the hands of man. She traveled the world to help save wild animals, including rhinos, elephants, and cheetahs.

It was in her capacity as a big cat vet that Conrad found her true calling, preventing animal suffering caused by other veterinarians. Conrad has always known declawing was wrong, but it wasn't until her examination of a cougar's paws after he was declawed did she really fathom how wrong it was. This is her first film. Self-described as NOT a filmmaker, Conrad is intrigued by the power of this medium.

Conrad is a graduate of UC Berkeley and UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

ALLAN HOLZMAN, ACE (Editor, SCA Adjunct Faculty)

Emmy Award winning filmmaker, Allan Holzman, has enjoyed success in both feature and documentary production as a director and an editor. Under the tutelage of producer Roger Corman, Holzman honed his directing and editing skills on ground breaking independent movies such as Battle Beyond the Stars and Mutant, winner of the Paris International Film Festival of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

After helming three action films, Out of Control, Grunt! The Wrestling Movie and Programmed To Kill, Holzman moved into the suspense genre with Deborah Harry on Showtime’s highest rated movie, Intimate Stranger.

Holzman’s first venture into documentaries, won him a Governor’s Emmy for editing TNT’s six-hour mini-series, The Native Americans. Two more Emmy Awards for directing and editing came his way for Steven Spielberg's Survivors of the Holocaust.

Holzman has also played with clay for a thirteen minute children’s book project Onami.

Aa a member of the Board of Directors for the American Cinema Editors, he created and produced Invisible Art/Visible Artists an annual event since 2001.

Holzman is a graduate of Bennington College and the American Film Institute. He is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and teaches graduate and undergrad editing classes at USC's School of Cinematic Arts.

About Outside the Box [Office]

Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain.

To view the calendar of screenings, click here.

Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 2:30 P.M.

All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $10.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago