Short Films in Focus: My Dudus | Features
Q&A with director Tom Krawczyk
I know this started with you coming home from film school during the pandemic, but at what point did the camera come out on a regular basis?
I was camping in Wisconsin when my mom sent me a photo via text message of Duduś. He was probably only a day or two old because he was completely hairless and his eyes were still closed. The following day I returned to Chicago and found my mom in her spare bedroom, feeding Duduś with a special concoction made from goat’s milk, yogurt, and sour cream. She kept him warm in an old shoebox filled with blankets and a homemade heating pad made by microwaving a sock filled with rice. She said she left Duduś under the tree where she found him, but the mother never returned. She took him in when it started to get dark. The next day, we set Duduś under the tree again. He squeaked, calling for his mother, but again, she never showed up. It was around this time where my mother said that maybe I should start filming. I was reluctant, thinking the mother would still show up. But, it was the pandemic and I was stuck at home with nothing else to do. So I dusted off my Canon C100, charged the batteries and just started recording footage. By the fifth day, the camera was an arm’s length away, at all times. Even in my sleep, I began visualizing the various shots I could potentially take.
Were there any experiences you had with the squirrel personally that you remember?
My mom was the main caregiver, but at times, I’d have to take over. Duduś had to be fed every 2-3 hours, 5 or 6 times a day. It was a lot of work, like taking care of a real baby. I remember being in that spare room, with just a desk lamp on, feeding him with a pet syringe. At times, he wouldn’t want to eat or drink or he wouldn’t pee or poo for a few days and I’d start to worry that he’s not doing well. Sometimes, during feeding, little bubbles would come out of his nose. I remember doing research and it said that if a squirrel drinks too fast, the fluid can go into its nose, and sometimes into the lungs. If it gets into the lungs, it can result in pneumonia. I remember freaking out, thinking I wasn’t feeding Duduś properly and that he could die because of me. There was just a lot of worry on my end. But I did learn a lot. I studied tons and tons of online blogs from vets and other people who found squirrels. I feel like Duduś and I bonded a lot during those early days.
I’m sure a lot of people who see this have questions about there also being a cat in the house. Did a relationship build between them as well and were there any challenges there?
I knew that having a baby squirrel in a house with a cat was a bad idea. We never wanted the two to be introduced to one another. It happened by complete accident. At night my mom would bring Duduś in from the outside and put him in a cage. He didn’t have his own outdoor nest yet and my mom was worried that he may get attacked by some wild animal. When she prepared him for bed, she would walk him over to the spare room and put him in his cage. Only the desk lamp would be on in the room, keeping it dark so that Duduś could sleep. One night, she locked Duduś into his cage, not realizing that Louie the cat was in there sleeping. When she woke up the following morning to let him out, she nearly had a heart attack. When she opened the cage, Duduś was nestled between Louis’ arms, sleeping like a baby. They both stretched and yawned at the same time. They became best friends by mistake. We still used cation and tried to keep them separated as much as possible. Occasionally they would play and chase one another. Duduś was so fast and agile that Louie would just give up.