Dog by Dog Iowa Premiere Recap

By on August 10, 2015

Expectations were high for the Iowa Premiere of 5414 Productions’s Dog by Dog. Because of a wonderful effort leading up to the event by 5414 and Bailing Out Benji, 450 tickets were sold to the Ames showing, making it the largest premiere for DbD to date. Director Chris Grimes said in a post-showing question-and-answer session that number could also be the largest for any U.S. viewing of an independent documentary film this year.

While some were worried about seeing horrific images likely to present themselves in a documentary about puppy mills, few were highlighted- a welcome non-sight for animal-advocating Iowans. Instead, the education-filled and informational doc film elicited hope, answers and inspiration. Few scenes were cringe-worthy while most captured the viewer’s attention by piquing interest to learn even more.

Among the questions fielded by the panel of Director Chris Grimes, Mindi Callison of Bailing out Benji and the event’s sponsors, were inquiries about when and how the film can be seen again and shared. While 5414 is in the midst of negotiations and little can be revealed about the big picture, Grimes assured the audience of a deal with a large, national or international broadcast network in the near future. The goal, as he indicated, is “most eyeballs possible,” and it will be achieved by striking a deal with any one of a number of interested parties (HBO, Showtime, CNN, PBS and others are possibilities, he says). Regardless of where the large broadcast deal is struck, the film will be available on Netflix and Amazon subscription services.

A complimentary 30-40 minute feature is also in the works and aims to inform younger viewers in schools around the world. Puppy by Puppy, Grimes said, will be available at some point to “any and every school that wants to to show it,” -for free. Have no fear- if you missed the Iowa Premiere of the film, you’ll be able to see it somewhere soon. Ten to twenty more showings will also occur in various locations around the country by year’s end. Visit dogbydogdocumentary.com for upcoming premieres.

We’re all (hopefully) conditioned to be critical consumers of information. We all love to pick apart and judge how a piece of art works or doesn’t. And while we sit in front of a screen, put antennas up and look forward to breaking down stylistic, cinematographic and narrative choices, the profound nature of the information disseminated by the film likely prohibited the majority of viewers from doing anything but being reigned in by the depth of the story.

Without delving too deeply into the wonder this attendee felt after viewing, I’ll simply praise the director’s ability to completely detail a HUGE story about a HUGE public policy issue that runs deeper than most know. The coverage of the issue was as all-encompassing as a 90-minute feature can be- a difficult and praiseworthy achievement.  Mindi Callison, founder of Bailing out Benji and contributor to the film, praised the documentary for being so overwhelmingly educational, saying “Even those who ‘knew’ about puppy mills didn’t really know” about all the film revealed. It’s impossible to say just how much can be learned from the film. Sufficed to say, one needs to see it to know how much it contains.

 

 

At the end of the film, viewers walked out of Ames City Auditorium with all kinds of expressions. Some seemed baffled, like they needed time to process all the knowledge that was dropped. Others were almost giddy while the rescue-t-shirt-wearing volunteers smiled, knowing the impact a film like this can have on their efforts. While most rescue workers understand the feeling of disappointment that comes with years of work that results in little change in the commercial breeding industry, it is nearly impossible to see the film without a renewed sense of hope and progress. If there’s anything this film can do, it can inspire those things.

“I truly hope we can all start working together,” Mindi says. “The Ames screening of Dog by Dog was surreal, to say the least. To be standing in a room full of the best rescues and shelters in Iowa (and beyond), knowing that this is the moment that we all need to start fighting puppy mills together was empowering. Person by person, dog by dog, this cruel industry will finally end. And I hope that makes the puppy mill owners terrified.”

For background on the film and how it got to Ames, read our interview with Grimes and Mindi here.

 

About Eric Forrest

Eric Forrest is a student, teacher, writer and dad. He's had 5 dogs, 4 cats, two ducks and a cottontail rabbit he nursed back to health. When he's not writing about pets, he's writing essays, teaching literature, changing diapers and reading short stories.

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