Last week, I got an email from my friend Heather. It said, “Watch this video my friend’s son made of him dancing with his cat.” I don’t usually watch videos, but I clicked immediately. Then I watched it ten times. Then I FaceTimed filmmaker Roy Gano, 10, to find out about the video and its two stars.
POPULA: Hi, I’m Sarah.
ROY: I’m Roy. Roy Gano. G-A-N-O.
POPULA: You’re ten? And you live in San Marcos, Texas?
ROY: Yes. We’ve lived here for maybe about two years. But I was born in California.
POPULA: So do you consider yourself a Californian at heart?
POPULA: And what’s your cat’s name?
ROY: Wirt. W-I-R-T. There was a cartoon that I like and one of the characters was named Wirt.
POPULA: Why did you like the character Wirt?
ROY: Well, my cat’s personality is more like Greg, another character in the same show.
POPULA: Oh, ok what’s Greg like?
ROY: Chubby and friendly.
POPULA: How old is Wirt?
ROY : He’s about only two or so.
POPULA: Is Wirt your very own cat? Just yours?
POPULA: Did you have to beg to get Wirt or did your parents just let you?
ROY: Well, my mom one day just came home with two kittens.
(His mother tells me later she bought kittens for him and his sister to ease the pain of moving to Texas.)
POPULA: I see a different cat in one of your other videos…
ROY: That’s Ramon. I have four cats.
POPULA: You have four cats! That’s amazing.
ROY: Yes. Two of them [Ramon and Spoony] are my whole family’s [and are older], and one [of the kittens] is mine, and one [of the kittens, Penny] is my sister’s. My sister’s name is Dorothy. She is 12. Oh no. She is 13. I forgot she just turned 13.
POPULA: How much does Wirt weigh?
ROY: About 17 or 18 pounds.
POPULA: Did Wirt enjoy being twirled around?
ROY: Not so much.
POPULA: Did you have rehearsals?
ROY: We did not. We just did it.
POPULA: Did you write the song or did you have a co-writer?
ROY: My dad wrote the lyrics and there’s this thing called Garage Band that does loops and we put together a bunch of loops and pretty much it made the song.
POPULA: What are some influences on you and your dad?
ROY: We just both like laughing at stuff. We like to watch pop singers … There’s this John Mellencamp guy – I think he’s cringey because he punches the camera. We’re making fun of the idea of like – I don’t really know!
POPULA: Were you nervous about being on film?
ROY: I didn’t care.
POPULA: Was it hard to memorize the song?
ROY: Since we worked on the song together and it took about a week to write it –
ROY: Here is Wirt!
(HE REAPPEARS HOLDING A HUGE CAT.)
ROY: It’s giant.
(THERE’S A SLIGHT COMMOTION. ROY IS GONE AGAIN. WHEN HE COMES BACK WIRT IS GONE.)
ROY: Oh well! So. It takes us a week to write the song so I get to learn it by then and when I am recording I can look at the lyrics. I just lip-sync the part where it looks like I am singing. In the new song that we’re working on right now, I play the trumpet.
POPULA: Do you play trumpet at school?
ROY: No, in the San Marcos Youth Mariachi.
POPULA: There are a lot of videos of people dancing with their cats on YouTube. Have you ever seen any of them.
POPULA: Are you trying to become a YouTube star? Are you ambitious?
ROY: No. I just like making people laugh.
POPULA: Do you have any idea of what you’d like to do when you finish school?
ROY: I want to be an architect.
POPULA: What’s a building you really like?
ROY: There is a spinning building that can literally spin and I have a Lego set of it. It is right here.
(ROY SHOWS ME HIS SPINNING LEGO SKYSCRAPER)
ROY: In the nighttime, they can do shows, they light up lights and it looks really cool. It’s in Shanghai.
POPULA: How did you get the cat to walk to the beat?
ROY: Oh, the cat wasn’t even listening to the music. Those are old shots of Wirt, and we just put them in.
POPULA: Is Wirt a good cat?
ROY: Yes. When he was little Wirt thought I was his mother. He used to try to nurse on my eyebrow. He sleeps with me/us most of the time.
POPULA: What’s the most beautiful moment you’ve ever had with Wirt?
ROY: When I was just laying down Wirt came over and laid his head on my arm.
POPULA: Have you gotten good responses to your video?
POPULA: What do people say to you after they see it?
ROY: They say, “I really like your video” or “It’s really funny.”
POPULA: Would you say you’re an obsessive cat lover?
ROY: Yes. Whenever I see Wirt and he is sleeping, I go and wake him up, and he always goes, “BRRRUP.” Then I pet him.