ED- The Eerie Digest has been breaking new ground recently into music and the Arts. This is true of many new production companies who have produced films and programs not on entertainment, but for a different purpose. Tom Porter is such a producer and his programs center on Animal Protection. Tom, you are the Director of Feed The Minds, Incorporated which was founded in 1997. What is the purpose behind this production?
TP- Feed The Minds, Inc. is the name of my non-profit corporation that I created as a legal entity to produce my educational and nature documentaries and entertainment projects under. I wanted a name that was broad enough to encompass a wide variety of projects under. My first corporation was named the Wildlife Foundation but the name was not broad enough to include my theatrical projects and it really was not a foundation.ED- You are also the producer behind Animal Consciousness. What is the connection between the two programs ?
TP- ‘Animal Consciousness, People Helping Animals, People Helping the Planet’ is the name of the television series and Feed the Minds in the name of the production company. Just as Stephen Spielberg produces a film as ET or Schindler’s List, his production company is Dream Works.
ED- You originally worked with the Animal Education Center in Los Angeles. Please tell us about this time in your life and how it shaped your commitment for your programs.
TP- Along with a wide variety of animals, one of my jobs was bringing snakes into the classroom, and I was very afraid of snakes. But what I found is that I feel in love with the snakes, especially the garter snakes. I would look into their eyes and watch them breath and found that I had a connection, empathy, love, and concern for their well being. They were very delicate and fragile and even affectionate and they seemed very vulnerable. I realized that I had a misconception about snakes and that many other people have similar misconceptions about spiders, sharks, wolves, vultures, insects and other animals that people have phobias about. I have a campaign to save U.S. laboratory chimpanzees and a woman, who I was discussing this issue with, said she hated chimpanzees and thought they were disgusting; Unfortunately she would not listen and closed her mind. It is hard to change someone beliefs about animals, you cannot force a person to care or to love. We have to be patient. I often feel I move inch by inch while my innocent creatures suffer, but I hope the world is headed in the right direction.
TP- Animal Acres is a Los Angeles farmed animal sanctuary and compassionate learning center dedicated to rescuing and protecting farmed animals through rescue, education, and advocacy efforts. Animal Acres is located on a beautiful 26 acre hacienda ranch, just 45 minutes from Hollywood. They encourage people to visit, become involved in Animal Acres, to help create a more compassionate world for ALL. Animal Acres promotes vegetarianism and vegans, Paul McCartney and Ellen Degeneres are vegetarians. Recently ex-McDonalds lover President Clinton became a vegetarian to lose weight and lately lost over 20 pounds for his daughter’s wedding. Being a vegetarian is a lot more fun than ever before, since you can choose different healthy cuisines from all over the world. More and more people are becoming vegetarians and vegans for health, ethical and spiritual reasons, it is also easier on the planet because it takes far less energy and water to eat vegetables than it does to produce livestock for meat. Factory farmed animals also have antibiotics, pesticides and growth hormones in their flesh as well as other side effects.
TP- ‘John Olguin’s Guide to Whale Watching’ was a culmination of several years work with The Cabrillo Aquarium, The American Cetacean Society, John Olguin, Bill Samaras, whales and dolphins. I put everything I learned and my best videography of my several trips to Mexico, San Ignacio Lagoon, Sea of Cortez and local whale watching trips into an educational documentary about whales and dolphins. San Ignacio is the home of the friendly whales where I was able to pet and even kiss a whale. Whales breach out of the water and anyone with a camera can get incredible shots. I produced the cult comedy cable classic, ‘Tea With Michael Raye’ for several years. My brother David Porter, his best friend actor, writer Larry Luntsford and business/writing partner and British actor Michael Raye were all comedians and since I had a background in video production we all created an interview talk show with crazy characters. The program developed over the years and became a local cult cable show in Los Angeles. We won several awards and got write ups in Variety and the Hollywood Reporter and got a couple of Cable TV deals. Unfortunately the host Michael Raye and David Porter both passed away recently. Michael was a great humanitarian, who helped the Hollywood homeless, rescued cats and was a vegan.
ED- You are currently putting together a second episode relating to the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro. Please tell us about this project and the message behind it.
TP- The Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur is a hospital for ill, injured and orphaned marine mammals. Their primary work is the treatment and release of rescued California sea lions, northern elephant seals, harbor seals and northern fur seals. This work is authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The Care Center is involved in the education of students, school teachers and the general public in conjunction with the Center for Marine Studies. The message behind the Marine Mammal Care Center is protecting the health of our ocean and the creatures in it. Do you realize that when you litter or do not pick up after your dog it often goes into the ocean. Marine debris is also a big issue because animals get entangled and drown.
TP- There are several disturbing and heartbreaking facts about the practice of using chimps in human medical research. Chimpanzees are not useful laboratory subjects, although genetically similar they do not get aids, rarely get cancer and their Y chromosomes are so different that they are not useful in human medical research. Therefore they do not help human medical research in any significant way, yet the U.S. government funds about 1,300 chimpanzees to live their lives in cramped 5 X 5 X 7 metal cages and under extreme stress and painful medical procedures. Only about 10% of the chimpanzees are currently being used. The 90% called “surplus” chimps are just waiting in small cages. Laboratories are telling the public they are needed for different human research. There is no retirement for these remarkable creatures that are highly intelligent and social individuals and some have lived their entire lives in these brutal and solitary conditions. Some have lived their 40 and sometimes 50 years of their lives as living test tubes. The use of chimpanzees in medical research has been banned in Europe and several scientists and doctors are coming forward to try to stop these injustice. The U.S. is the only country that uses chimpanzees in any significant numbers. I have interviewed Dr. Jarrod Bailey, U.K. research scientist from project R & R, release & restitution for all Laboratory chimpanzees. Dr. Bailey has written several medical articles stating that biologically chimpanzees do not make good research subjects because of their genetic differences. Although the Congress and the American courts have tried repeatedly to protect horses around 100,000 U.S. horses are slaughtered annually. Federal law protects wild horses and wild burros but the Bureau of Land Management says wild horses are starving to death and must be removed, the truth is BLM is protecting the cattle industry, for every one horse there are a hundred cattle. The second issue with the slaughter of horses is that about 100,000 horses are being exported to Mexico & Canada for slaughter despite U.S. federal court banning the slaughter of horses. Since it is illegal to slaughter horses in America, the horses are exported & killed. My program will bring public awareness to many animal problems. When the American public finds out about these injustices, they will be appalled & will stop the animal abuse. Other animal issues include, illegal trade of endangered animals, destruction tropical rain forests and other unique habitats including the development of 1,000 of square miles of the Mohave desert are being used for corporate solar power plants, Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) program neuters feral cats, puppy and kitty mills where abuse is common, illegal Japanese and Norwegian whaling, factory farms have animal welfare issues as well as being unhealthy for the pesticides, growth hormones and other environmental issues such as disposing of animal feces, animal testing for cosmetics are needless killed and school dissection programs, where millions of animals are killed meaninglessly.
ED- You also recently won an award by Toyota. What is the venue behind it and the work it entails ?
TP- Yes, I recently won the Toyota Tapestry grant for high school students at Monroe High school and Bernice Krieger, Biology & environmental teacher to participate in International Beach Cleanup day and beach restoration. Students learn about the marine environment & do media projects about how they are helping the environment.
ED- Please list the YouTube links of your programs where our readers can find your work.
TP- My program will air on the Jewish TV Network nationwide next year.
Program Animal Consciousness: Animal Acres, a rescue farmed animal sanctuary, that promotes veganism http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=218D6E-jPYo
Whales & Dolphins with John Olguin director of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGi-b2Vc-Cg
California Condors with Dr. Chris Cogan, Professor, California State University, Channel Islands http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbxF6Fo0AL8
ED- Tom, there are many animal and environmental issues at stake today, and you are one of the few filmmakers who are creating programs to raise the awareness on them for the public. We salute you and wish you much luck in all your endeavors. We thank you for this enlightening interview and hope that you keep in touch with us on all your work.