No Pets | 80 min., 1994
No Pets is the first fiction feature film from multi-award winning, internationally renowned filmmaker Tony Buba whose earlier "steeltown sagas" ÔÇö a series of documentaries chronicling the life and times of post-industrial southwestern Pennsylvania ÔÇö received overwhelming public and critical acclaim.
The premiere of No Pets again brought outstanding positive response. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette film critic Marylynn Uricchio noted:
ÔÇ£Buba's greatest gift has always been to find humor in the most dismal circumstances, and to find hope at every dead endÔÇªBuba finds everything that is noble about the human spirit and celebrates it as if it were the most natural thing in the world.ÔÇØ
Jim Daniels was born in the Motor City and raised in the Buy American City (Warren, MI), the son and grandson of auto workers. While working summers in the Ford Sterling axle plant, Daniels began writing down what he saw, and these crumpled, grease--stained notes later became poems. The high factory wages (now long-gone) put him through college, and the poems landed him a place in the graduate writing program at Bowling Green University, where he received his MFA in 1980.
He honed those rough factory poems into a chapbook, On the Line, published in 1980, and on the strength of that small book, he was hired as a poetry instructor at Carnegie Mellon University in 1981. In 1985 he published his first full-length collection, Places/Everyone, a kind of family album of working-class life, where he called on the experienc of all of the jobs he'd had ÔÇö soda jerk, short order cook, liquor store clerk, bank teller, warehouse stockboy.Places/Everyone won the Brittingham Prize for Poetry.
What the poet C.K. Williams said of Places/Everyone also goes to the heart of No Pets:
ÔÇ£Daniels has captured the blind and sad anquish of souls so trapped that they have ceased to know how to speak, even to themselves, but he has never lost sight of the remarkable dignity, humor and spiritual resillience which at the end are what redeems our passion and our hope.ÔÇØ
No Pets has universal appeal, particularly to those interested in filmmaking. Whether studying the film's content and characters from a sociological or psychological point of view or investigating the numerous elements of filmmaking that makes this work so striking, there is a great deal to be gained from a screening of No Pets.
Tony Buba is available to conduct workshops and lectures on a variety of subjects ranging from editing to producing and directing. He can further enhance these sessions with materials such as videotapes from the film's casting sessions, the numerous version/stages of the script, daily rushes and unedited footage.
Screenwriter Jim Daniels, winner of the Brittingham Prize for Poetry and author of several poetry collections including M-80 and Blessing This House┬á published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, can lead discussions and host seminars on screenwriting and the screenwriting process. The screenplay of No Pets is based on Daniel's short story of the same name.