How popular are cat videos? A definitive answer might be hard to come by, but here’s one indicator: There is such a thing as the nationwide CatVideoFest. It has received more than 1,500 entries in just the past two months, according to its president, Will Braden. In fact, the festival has become so successful that Braden, once a professional videographer, now runs it full time.
“It’s a surreal thing,” says the Seattle-based Braden, “to explain my job to people when I just meet them.”
CatVideoFest, which comes to Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre on Sunday, is a compilation of official festival entries and internet flotsam, all carefully curated by programmer and overall head honcho Braden. From year to year, the festival’s range of material might include the usual and feline pratfalls but also cat-themed music videos, animated shorts and even mini-documentaries. Aside from one bleeped-out curse word, says Braden, all the content is family-friendly.
“I really go deep-diving into the corners of the internet to find things that have not gotten popular,” says Braden, noting that he spends countless hours on Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and wherever his Google alerts might lead him. “If you go thinking, ‘I’ve probably seen all of these’ — believe me, you haven’t.”
In what has become a tradition at all festival screenings, ticket proceeds will benefit a local nonprofit, in this case the Huntington animal shelter Golden Paw Society.
Cat fans might know Braden as the creator of the video series “Henri, Le Chat Noir,” centered on a French house-cat and his existential musings (“I wake to the same tedium”). In 2012, as his videos were going viral, Braden heard about the first internet Cat Video Festival at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and flew there to attend, becoming one of the unexpectedly large crowd of 10,000. His latest “Henri” episode won the Golden Kitty Award, and he wound up curating subsequent festivals. The Walker Art Center eventually called an end to the event, however, so Braden launched his own version, CatVideoFest, in 2016.
Last year, the indie film distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories joined forces with Braden to help his festival reach more theaters around the country.
After years of creating and curating cat videos, Braden has some advice for those hoping to submit one to his festival. Shorter is always better, he says. Use plenty of light so viewers can see the action. Never force a cat into something he doesn’t want to do; the audience can tell. And finally, keep your material rated G.
“The total demographic appeal to the cat video fest is a huge part of its success,” says Braden. “There just aren’t that many things that you can take your six-year-old daughter and your 60-year-old father to, and they’re both going to enjoy it.”
WHEN|WHERE Sunday at Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington.
INFO 631-423-7611 or go to cinemaartscentre.org.