The show immerses the viewer into the challenges that Pet Helpers on James Island faces everyday as a “no-kill” animal shelter.
“Animal Cops” combines with “From Underdog To Wonderdog” to tell the incredible story of the Pet Helpers Animal Shelter in Charleston, South Carolina. "Give Me Shelter" puts the audience in the middle of this dynamic organization. From rescue runs to saving imperiled animals, to successful adoption events, to the private thoughts of the characters, the audience will intimately experience life at a "no-kill" rescue shelter. Each week viewers will enter the lives of committed animal welfare advocates as we track the process of rescued animals from rescue/acceptance into the shelter, through rehabilitation and then finally on to adoption. "Give Me Shelter" takes the perennially successful genre of animal friendly programing to new heights of feel good emotion.
I had the pleasure of working with Jessie Anderson-Berens, the owner of Palmetto Coast Media, a locally based production company, before “Give Me Shelter” a couple of years ago.
Jessie and I used to work at two separate production companies in Mount Pleasant back in 2010. We didn’t meet until a year later after I left my job to pursue freelance at several companies in Charleston.
I eventually met Jessie where I worked for her on a TV show called “Rescue Vet” when she was head video producer of Hollywood SC Studios.
I worked camera on a couple of episodes until I started working full-time at a book publisher that I was already freelancing for at the time.
A year after "Rescue Vet," Jessie approached Brooks Quinn, the head media specialist of College of Charleston, and I about shooting a pilot at Pet Helpers. After a couple of test shoots, Jessie started to form a fleet of videographers and she completed her pilot. My roommate George Stevens, graphic designer and local musician, helped with "Give Me Shelter" by creating preliminary logos and layouts so Lifesize Entertainment could sell the pilot.
After a couple of months shopping "Give Me Shelter" to networks, the pilot was eventually picked up internationally on Discovery Communications and Jessie had it rebranded for television.
With 2014 just around the corner, season 1 of "Give Me Shelter" is wrapping up shooting and is scheduled to air early spring of next year.
Hunter: When did you decide to create this pilot?
Jessie: In June of 2012 my business partner, Bruce Frigeri, and I decided to produce a TV series about an animal shelter in Charleston.
Hunter: Why Pet Helpers?
Jessie: After scouting the Charleston area we felt that Pet Helpers was the best fit. We loved the fact that Pet Helpers is a no-kill animal shelter and that they are mostly funded by donations. They also have a great staff that really shines on camera.
Hunter: Do you remember where you were when the pilot was picked up? How was that process for you?
Jessie: I think I was at home editing another project when Bruce called me to tell me we landed two deals with Discovery Channel Europe and Discovery Channel Japan. I was ecstatic. It was a big sigh of relief after months of hard work and anticipation. We couldn't wait to start shooting!
Hunter: How does each episode range on story?
Jessie: Each episode parallels between two stories. Typically one story is about an off-site event or rescue run while the other story follows a challenging case that has just arrived at the shelter. Every episode keeps the viewer wondering what will happen next.
Hunter: What's a typical day as the producer and editor of Give Me Shelter all while operating your production company, Palmetto Coast Media?
Jessie: This show has been my life for the last year and half. I have spent countless hours every day shooting, producing, and editing, while also trying to keep up with our local clients, who are just as important! I like being able to switch gears every now and then. It's important to stay focused on the TV show, but also remain connected to the local community and make sure my business grows. It can be chaotic at times juggling it all, but I love it.
Hunter: Can you give me some background on yourself?
Jessie: I grew up just outside of Boston in Newton, Massachusetts. In first grade I got my first camera and began shooting stills. Ever since then I've been pretty obsessed with taking pictures. At the same time that I fell in love with photography, I also learned how to set up a tripod and shoot skits in front of the video camera. Throughout the years I began documenting my life through video and stills. I chose to go to college at NC State where I double-majored in Media Communications and Spanish. Spanish became more of a hobby, but once I immersed myself into the world of video production, I knew I found my niche. Since graduating, I have worked as a video editor for various production companies in the south east, including Litton Entertainment in Mount Pleasant. For four and a half years I was an editor and producer for three nationally syndicated TV series. Then I worked for Hollywood SC Studios where I had the opportunity to produce, direct and edit a TV series called Rescue Vet, which was about Charleston veterinarians. That is where i also began working with Bruce Frigeri, my current business partner. He handled distribution for the series while also helping with the production. After the success of Rescue Vet, I joined forces again with Bruce to create Give Me Shelter by combining both of our companies, Palmetto Coast Media and Lifesize Entertainment. We are loving this series and can't wait to produce the next one!
Hunter: From pilot to a first full season, what has been the largest learning experience working on "Give Me Shelter"?
Jessie: I have learned so much from spending the last year and a half producing this TV show. I've seen animals be saved from other shelters, hours before they were supposed to be euthanized, to going into a forever home and receiving a second chance at life. I've walked into snake and spider infested forests to document feral puppies being saved. I've seen staff members pull together and work after hours to make sure every animal gets the care it needs. I've seen unthinkable neglect and abuse cases turn into unbelievable miracles. But most of all I've learned that a no-kill, donation-supported animal shelter such as Pet Helpers CAN succeed in finding every animal it's forever home.
Hunter: Can you name some main characters for us?
Jessie: We tried to initially focus on a few main characters, but it was hard to narrow it down since everyone is so hands on. Each episode introduces us to new staff and volunteers, but we also follow some familiar faces. It's really interesting to see what each persons job entails and how they have such a strong impact on keeping the shelter running, while saving lives on a daily basis. If I had to pick a favorite character, I don't think I could! They are all so interesting to watch.
Hunter: How did you form your crew for "Give Me Shelter"? Was it an organic process or did you go through any companies to get yourself going?
Jessie: I had worked with about half of the crew on other TV series and projects. The rest I hired based on recommendations from other colleagues. If it wasn't for my crew, we wouldn't be able to successfully produce this TV show. Not only are they extremely talented, but they are great to work with and share their love of animals with me.
I want to give a special thanks to my co-producer Bruce Frigeri, executive producer Ryan Arentz, camera operators Brooks Quinn, Paul Schmidt, Hunter Boone, Andrew Walker, Dave Brown, Steven Traver, Zachary Breintengross, and Thomas Wilkinson, audio mixer Bryan Marye, narrator Seth Hendrix, composer Evan Frankfort, graphic designer Jarred Hoelle, motion graphics designer Jose Amaya, and last but not least, all the incredibly dedicated and inspiring staff and volunteers at Pet Helpers Animal Shelter.
It's been an incredible year and a half putting this series together, and I can't wait to see what comes next.