I admit it. When I was a kid, I loved watching Westerns. But as much as I enjoyed these films and TV shows, the good guy almost always became the hero at the expense of animals: horses, cows, chickens, rabbits, fish and countless other critters were hunted, branded, ridden into the ground or suffered some other type of taming-of-the-West cruelty, all in the name of entertainment. Now I rarely watch Westerns, and if I do, I sit there with my finger on the fast-forward button, poised like a gunslinger waiting for my adversary to make the first move.

 

Well, if you too watch films with growing anxiety, hoping not to see a character gleefully engaging in some form of animal abuse; or you’d like to enjoy a movie in which the protagonist is vegan — hey, maybe even an animal rights activist! — and is portrayed realistically; or you simply wish that Hollywood would depict vegans and animal activists in a more sympathetic light, I’ve got good news for you.

 

A new motion picture production company called Green Light Flix was launched this week. The company is looking for vegetarians and vegans to join their “Producers Club,” which will help develop and produce media, such as feature films, videos, podcasts, webisodes and more, all with an animal rights or environmental angle.

“Vegetarians, animal rights activists and environmentalists have a very rare and often negative representation in cinema and television,” says Dawn Black, co-founder of Green Light Flix. “Our mission is to change that. We want to show activists in a positive light while entertaining and educating audiences.”

 

The projects are financed through membership dues (starting at $25 a year), which turn fans into producers and investors. Once the productions are done, limited-edition DVDs are distributed to those same members whose annual dues financed them.

 

“There are millions of vegetarians and vegans around the world, and many of us are insulted by being portrayed in films and TV shows as pale, 85-pound hippies that look sickly and need a murdered farm animal’s carcass and dairy products to feel better,” says Scott Cardinal, Green Light Flix co-founder and director of development. “Environmentalists and animal rights activists are usually portrayed as kooks, too.”

 

Activist Jodi Chemes of Florida Voices for Animals observes that although many animal rights groups produce footage of slaughterhouses and other animal cruelty, many people refuse to watch the disturbing videos. “While this information needs to be made public so people can learn the truth,” she says, “we also need positive videos showing what the world could be like without dependence on animal products. Green Light Flix will do that, and we are excited to support them.”

Green Light Flix members will help make major business decisions, including logo design, web design, film development, marketing and distribution. Members will also receive VIP perks, such as a free member T-shirt, DVDs and 25% off all products. The company says it will donate 10% of net profits to animal rescue, rights and welfare organizations selected by its members.

And you can bet that if Green Light Flix ever produces a Western, common cowboy practices like whipping horses, branding cattle and roping steers will either be absent or addressed for what they are: cruelty to animals. I won’t fast forward through that.