Hi everyone! I spent the last four years working on a passion project called Fursonas. The film is about the relationship between furries and the media, and provides a window into community via the often misunderstood fandom.

I'd been a secret furry for over a decade, and gradually "came out of the closet" over the course of production. The film premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival in January, where it received the Spirit Award and acquired distribution from Gravitas Ventures. What started out as my senior thesis film for college is now the #2 documentary on Google Play and has grown larger than I ever anticipated.

Proof: https://twitter.com/videothewolf/status/732601613475532800

Or, if you prefer: https://twitter.com/videothewolf/status/732609159108169729


UPDATE: Thank you all SO much for your insightful questions. This was really great. Love you guys. Going to take a nap now.

Comments: 123 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

Chronoraven17 karma

I watched the documentary last night, so it's still very fresh in my mind. A few moments that struck me as exceptional were:

1) The story arc transitions of the main characters

  • Boomer the dog starts out as the underdog; the one who seems the most outlandish. Kage starts out as the levelheaded ringleader; the one who seems the most socialized. As the documentary progresses, the story arcs completely shift until at the very end, Boomer the Dog is the hero of the documentary; honest, loving, free spirited, and positive. And then there's Kage; dishonest, spiteful, mean spirited, and desperately controlling. How did you feel about the evolution of the project? Was this the narrative you thought you'd end up with?

2) Diezel the raccoon's last appearance in the film

  • After you had him watch the video of Kage saying that furries represent the fandom when they speak to the media and that they should try to escape the media at all costs, you put him on the spot to see if he would realize that he's doing exactly what Kage thinks furries should not be do. He appeared very uncomfortable and was only able to feebly repeat what Kage had said in the video, defensively stating that he wasn't in the interview for fame; only to be himself. It struck me as very insincere. Do you think that sex negativity is a problem in the fandom? Do you think furries should continue to remain secretive and hush-hush about sex within the fandom? The only view point I thought could have been covered more thoroughly was a truly sex positive furry who is unashamed of their sexuality. Even the couple who went on the Tyra Banks show were at odds with each other; the husband seemed pretty ashamed about it still and the wife seemed unapologetic even though she herself admitted to not even do the sex acts she claimed to take part in.

3) Your impromptu interview with Kage during his wine-stream

  • This part of the documentary was incredibly entertaining to watch. Kage unwittingly answered your interview questions with complete honestly and absolutely no filter. Did you ever reveal to Kage who you were after asking those questions, or did you never tell him, waiting for him to see it in the documentary? I'd love to have seen his reaction.

4) The entire package

  • The filming was incredible. The sound design was INCREDIBLE. Every scene was edited artfully, and the music really played along well with every scene; nothing felt out of place. I think you did an incredible job portraying the many different types of egos at play in the fandom. You went further than what's on the surface; you saw past the spectacle and you saw us for who we truly are. Thank you.

domrodrig14 karma

Wow! Thanks so much for the detailed response to the film.

A lot of the narrative reflects how I felt about certain ideas along the way. In some ways, the film is my journey through the fandom more than anyone else's, even though the film doesn't really focus on me as a subject that much.

As far as the Boomer/Kage arc goes, I think that Boomer's side happened much more organically. When I first met him, I thought he was a crazy person. I didn't want to exploit him, but I did find him difficult to relate to, and I knew that showing him in the film might be interpreted as exploitative if I wasn't able to get deeper into his life. Each time I went back to talk to him, I got to know him better and better. We became friendlier with each other. I started to realize what questions I should really be asking. Seeing the way that he was treated by the community was such a turning point, because I always saw Boomer as so harmless. In that final interview, it dawned on me that he knew exactly what he was doing and that he had made a conscious choice to express himself, despite any harm that might come back to him.

Uncle Kage's arc in the film was not nearly as organic, because I had a pretty good sense of what he was about before I even started the film. In fact, I didn't want him to be a part of Fursonas for a very long time, because he was always the guy media talks to. I worried that I wouldn't be able to get on a personal, intimate level with the guy since he was so trained for PR. However, his name would come up again and again, and finally I decided to scrutinize his Media Panels. It was very shocking to see how far he went in bullying people that didn't fall in line with his moral code. That was new to me.

We kind of had to work backwards with him--knowing that we'd have to build up his image as the kind, trustworthy authority figure in the film before revealing that other side of him. I do think it's worth mentioning that that second half shouldn't necessarily negate the first half. I think he says a lot of beautiful things about the fandom and I think he does believe them, even if he isn't always consistent.

I do think that sex negativity is a problem in the fandom. It's interesting, because the fandom feels very sex-positive when you're in it, but it's when people start talking to the media that it starts to get interesting. A lot of people have ideals that they can't really stand behind when you put them in the public eye. I get it--there's this argument that private things should be private and public things should be public. However, we're constantly redefining where that line between private and public is, so I think that's worth challenging.

I'm sure it's no secret that I agree with Varka, when he says that "everyone's a pervert in some way" and that people should stand up for who they really are. That's not to say we throw all decency out the window, but it's a conversation I think we should be having.

I never told Kage that it was me in the Winestream. I'm sure that he knows by now.

domrodrig3 karma

"...the wife seemed unapologetic even though she herself admitted to not even do the sex acts she claimed to take part in."

One of them is lying in the interview they do together, yes. However, you and I have different opinions about which one is.

ohheyitsthatguy19889 karma

This film started as a college thesis film, right? Was there a shorter cut that was screened at school? How did it go from thesis film to feature length doc?

domrodrig8 karma

Yep, it began as a 12-minute short that I made with a crew of four others at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. That short had the same six subjects that began the film as it is now: Bandit, Boomer, Grix, Freya, Diezel, and Skye.

It was more of a portrait piece that gave you a taste of each person and what they're like and was meant to make the viewer question how s/he felt about this whole thing. The film ended on a note suggesting that although they're all very different from each other, they're all one big happy family! I later learned that I was looking at the whole thing with rose-colored glasses, haha.

After we graduated, we continued to work on the film on our own time, hoping to expand it into a feature. We received a grant from The Sprout Fund in 2013 that helped a ton with travel and other expenses. In 2015, we partnered with Animal Media Group and they gave us a final push to film for one more year and now here we are.

ohheyitsthatguy19883 karma

Will the 12 minute cut ever be made available?

domrodrig5 karma

Ooh maybe! Would you want to see it? It's not great, haha.

We used a terrible font for the names. I was so bad at fonts back then.

alstor7 karma

How have your interview subjects responded to the final product, more specifically Uncle Kage?

domrodrig12 karma

I haven't heard back from everyone, but the ones that have seen it have responded positively to it. I think it's always tough when you see yourself on screen to be totally secure with it going out to the world. That's something I can relate to, seeing myself on screen. As Kato put it, your "butthole clenches" when you see yourself.

I'm sure that Uncle Kage has seen it by now, but I haven't heard anything directly. I was just at Biggest Little Furry Con in Reno and he had a Story Hour scheduled shortly after my showing, so I expected to run into him. However, he missed his flight and did not make it to the con.

ZeiglerJaguar6 karma

Kage has issued a statement to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"The filmmakers declined our repeated requests to view it, and there have been no screenings local to any board member’s home. Based on the clips, reviews and articles that have appeared online, however, the film appears to portray the filmmakers’ own perspectives and predilections as opposed to presenting a balanced overview of our community.”

domrodrig11 karma

I love the word "predilections"

Yes, we did not send the film to them ahead of time for approval. Now that it's available everywhere, I'm sure he's taken the time to watch it.

patch_ofurr6 karma

Hi dom! I read all the comments so far and don't see Varka, the "cocksmith" of Bad Dragon mentioned. I think it was one of the most risky, important, confrontational parts of the movie. Also adjectives like gooey and lugubrious.

How did you approach him? Was he hard to reach or open (considering what he sells?) Did it feel weird to try? Did you get any idea of the history of what he does, especially like a sense of it coming out of the shadows and becoming this incredibly obscene thing you can just order on Amazon now? Was there any deeper detail about the rift between his company and Anthrocon (it seems all about a microscopic rule change on the face, but representing a deep schism underneath.)

I like how his part opened with a chat about american puritanism - that was one of the things that made this a movie-movie to me, not just a furry movie. It reminded me of seeing Marilyn Manson interviewed by Michael Moore, who was surprisingly articulate in his role.

Was there any other approach you considered about adult topics before putting his jiggly work on screen?

You must be comfortable with the topic after being so close for years. Can you imagine seeing it through the eyes of someone who had no idea it existed?

domrodrig5 karma

Hi Patch! Ooh, I'm glad you brought up Bad Dragon.

How to approach sexuality in the film was something I had struggled with for a while, because I didn't want to make my interview subjects too uncomfortable, nor did I feel that they owed me an in-depth account of their sex lives. Still, I felt that I needed to address sexuality in a way that was frank, thought-provoking, and entertaining.

It was a stroke of ridiculous luck, really. We were already planning to interview Diezel in Arizona for his follow-up. I remember doing some research on Bad Dragon (my boyfriend and I are fans of their products, naturally) and when I found out that their headquarters was in Phoenix, I scrambled to get my shit together and reach out to Varka. I figured it would probably be too short notice, but worth a shot. A week later, we were in his office filming that segment.

Varka was very accommodating and easy to talk to. Back then, I had just started to come out to my interview subjects as a furry. With many of those initial interviews, I didn't reveal that I was a furry because I liked the idea of gaining their trust along the way, as I moved from outsider to insider. With Varka, that was the first time that I shamelessly played the furry card. I wanted to assure him that I supported what his company does and that I happily owned a couple Bad Dragon products. However, I wanted to make sure that he knew we'd be talking more about the fandom in general, and getting into some deeper ideas regarding sexuality and the importance of self-expression--not making a commercial.

The worst part of Varka's interview is how wonderful it is. It went on for hours and I knew that I'd only be able to use a small part of it in the film, so it was difficult to cut so many of the insightful points he made. There are a lot of interesting facts regarding his personal story and how he "accidentally created a business" doing what he loved--sculpting dragon dicks. He came to the United States from Scotland to pursue his career as an entrepreneur. It's this great American Dream story.

I was learning so much more about the fandom during that period. This interview happened right before Uncle Kage and I started talking about potentially doing an interview. I hadn't started scrutinizing the Furries in the Media Panels yet, so I didn't realize how deep this rift between self-expression and public image was. That is to say, I didn't learn that Bad Dragon were not allowed to sell at Anthrocon until after I did Varka's interview.

Looking back on the interview, I remember how much pride he took in his products, considering them to be a blend of function and art. When you read the change to AC 2012's dealer room packet, it says "Items of a distinctly adult nature whose primary purpose is functional rather than artistic are prohibited (if you do not know what that means, please contact us and we will explain)"

To me, this decision reinforces the puritanical idea that porn cannot be art, so I'm sure it must have been a blow.

I always try to imagine what some of this stuff looks like to people who've never seen it before. My grandmother saw the movie yesterday with my parents before I got home. I can't imagine what was going through her mind. She's still nice to me, haha. All she said was that the film was "very revealing"

ctcwired5 karma

What was the most difficult part of making Fursonas? Traveling? expense? Figuring out how you wanted parts of the film to play out? etc.

domrodrig6 karma

This movie was a blast for so much of production because we didn't really have set deadlines and everything was so easy-going. We'd show up, film for as long as we could, and then that was it.

It wasn't until we started the editing process in 2014 that it became kind of a nightmare, haha. I had spent so much time accumulating these interviews and making notes on how the film might go, but I really didn't have any set structure or story in mind. Figuring out who would make the final cut, who wouldn't, how these perspectives would fit together, and if/when we would need to film more was by far the most difficult part.

So much of the editing process involved the editor (Christine Meyer) and me arguing in a small room, haha. It was a good kind of arguing--about what a specific cut would mean and how the film would be perceived at various points throughout. We definitely drove each other a little crazy.

FreyaFoxieFox5 karma

Totally crashing your party, Video! For those who don't know, I am Freya, one of the interview subjects (the mother in the film). Of course, I won't crash it without asking you a valid question! How did you feel when you first started contacting people for the project, and what made you contact those individuals? Was there any point during the making of the film where you had that terrifying 'This is real' feeling?

domrodrig5 karma

Hey Freya!! This is so fun.

In the beginning, I sent hundreds of emails to known fursuiters, using WikiFur as my resource. I only wanted to talk to people that had suits, because it was a very cinematic representation of dedication to the community. Later on, having a suit was not a necessary criteria for me to want to talk to someone.

I remember being very excited about the infinite directions that the project could go in. A feeling that I've consistently had along the way, however, is that it's always different when you're there. I think that's the filmmaker in me at odds with the humanistic part of me. I have all these cool ideas in my head, but when I'm reminded that it's real people with real lives, I realize again and again that I have more responsibility than just "making a good movie"

I actually had a "this is real" feeling when I first spoke on the phone with you, Freya. You had asked me who else was in the documentary, and I fired off a few names--Diezel, Grix, etc. and you were like "I know them!" I was so surprised because I didn't realize how close the community was and how people from different parts of the country knew each other. In the furry fandom, everyone kind of knows everyone and it's a very strange small-town vibe.

ctcwired5 karma

Do you feel as a furry that who you are, where you belong, or what parts of the fandom you connect best with has changed? Have you become closer to or further from the community / certain groups within it?

domrodrig11 karma

My "furriness" has changed so much over time. I know it's different for everyone, but for a lot of us, I think it's a process of self-discovery that has different steps along the way.

Part of the reason why I was so secretive about it early on was because it was really just a sexual thing in the beginning. I'd sneak away to FA and look at furry porn and that was where it ended for me, so I thought I had enough distance to look at the social aspects of the fandom somewhat objectively. However, as I started to meet people and go to conventions, I quickly lost that objectivity and became endeared to more aspects of furry.

For example, I never thought that I wanted a suit before, and now fursuiting is my favorite thing ever. I've become much closer to the community over the last couple years. Especially when I started going to cons with my boyfriend in 2014, when I didn't have to be "on duty" for the movie all the time.

I'm sure I'll be doing this shit for the rest of my life.

MiG31_Foxhound5 karma

Hey, Dominic - it's Kato! Thanks for doing this AMA, and of course for making the film. Did the project go through any other working titles before you decided on Fursonas? Were there any major disagreements between production members regarding the creative aspects of the film during filming and editing?

domrodrig3 karma

Oh man. Because you're my friend I'm going to dig up the list of working titles I had back in 2012. They're really really bad. For a while it was "Untitled Fursuiter Documentary" and here's what else I had written down:

Lucid Fur Fursuit Suit of Fur Suits and family Suits of Fur Smiles and Fur Smile Smile of Fur Smiles and Suits

Family Smiles Smiling Fur

Smile at Me A Smile and Fur Furry Smiles

A Big Fat Smile

Fauna – refers to animals Ohana – means family Fauna Ohana – hahahaha oh my god

Fauna Ohana Wild Smile

American Furry is taken American Fursuit Americana Fauna Ohana

Furry USA Furry Forest Fiesta Furry Fiest

I do sort of like Fauna though. American Fauna. No no no nono nonono.


Cats and Dogs

domrodrig4 karma

Another great story on titles: Christine had pitched the title "Fursona" to me and I told her that I hated it. A few days later, I approached her and said "What about Fursonas?"

"Isn't that just my title with an S on it?"

"No, it's totally different. Mine is so much better."

I think that says something about an editor having the idea and the director taking all the credit. BUT "Fursonas" IS a better title. Come on.

domrodrig3 karma

As far as creative aspects go, the folks at Animal Media Group knew that this project was my baby for three years before they became a part of it, so they made sure that I knew I was still able to creatively explore what I wanted.

We got a lot of helpful feedback from Danny Yourd (executive producer) and Steve Hoover (story consultant) that helped the film figure out what it eventually was. I do know that a lot of the things I said I would never do, I ended up doing: I didn't want to be in it, I didn't want to have Uncle Kage in it, I didn't want to come out as a furry, etc. But a lot can change in four years.

tomjorgensen5 karma

Isn't Kevin Piper the absolute worst? His music sounds like somebody put a synthesizer on the worst loop preset, put that in a dryer and turned it on high, and recorded it using a dictophone from 1908.

domrodrig7 karma

Kevin Piper is a sellout pothead jazzhole

ohheyitsthatguy19885 karma

I know very little about Furry fandom but found your doc fascinating. A very fascinating and even compassionate look at a much understood group.

One thing I took from it though was what a dick Uncle Kage seemed to be. So in the film, when you introduce your subjects, it cuts to nicely-drawn images of their animal alter-egos and their name. When Kage came up, it was (if I recall correctly) a cockroach. Is that his furry alter ego, a warning of the kind of person he is, or a subtle "fuck you" to Uncle Kage?

domrodrig7 karma

Uncle Kage's actual fursona that he chose is a cockroach.

You can't write this shit.

HighOnGoofballs4 karma

How do furries feel about the otherkin?

domrodrig8 karma

Many furries don't love the idea of being associated with otherkin. However, there's an unquestionable overlap between the communities. After the Fursonas Panel at BLFC, there was a Therian & Otherkin Meetup scheduled in the room afterwards.

A lot of people say that Boomer fits in more with that community than the furry community. I remember Boomer had a really interesting perspective on that. He told me that otherkin are "very serious" and he likes that furries can laugh at themselves more and have fun with it. I think that's cool because Boomer obviously takes the dog thing very seriously, but he has a great sense of humor and self-awareness.

ctcwired4 karma

Is there anything that didn't make the final cut that you now wish you left in?

domrodrig4 karma

There are lots of things that were heartbreaking to cut out. There are scenes that, by themselves, work so well and when you watch them you might think "How can this NOT be in the movie??"

But it's amazing how context changes everything. That's why I love (and also hate) editing, because when the scenes happen matters so much. Even more than you'd think sometimes. I'll see something in my head and then seeing it in the edit--it doesn't always work.

We spent so much time editing that I was able to second, third, and fourth-guess everything in there. I stand behind the film as it is, even though I think it's imperfect, it still feels honest to me and shows how I was feeling as I went through this journey.

KaviCat3 karma

It seemed to me like the film became more of a sociological study as time progressed. It came across more as "here's how an Internet-based fan group runs itself" and less "this is what happens in the furry fandom," and I appreciate that perspective!

Do you agree with that interpretation, and was it your intention to move in that direction with the film? More generally, how did your own expectations change with time for what the final product would look like?

domrodrig6 karma

Thanks! I like the idea that the film begins with so much furry shit that it's almost overwhelming for someone on the outside, and then over the course of the film, you almost forget that you're talking to furries.

You can say "internet-based fan group" and I agree, or if you wanted to go even broader, I think that could still hold true. For example, I think of religious communities when I watch the film--this idea that people challenge each other on what the "right" kind of Christian is, for example. I've also heard people compare this group to the gay community 20 years ago, as it was still struggling to define itself--disproving stereotypes and embracing stereotypes all at once.

I always wanted the film to be about more than furries. It was never meant to be an educational kind of documentary, which is why there are a lot of things left unclarified in it. People have Google and they can find out the specific lingo we use and things like that easily. What they can't get from Google are these intimate perspectives and these moments that only happen organically when you step into a real person's life.

I expected the film would be more like the first half when I started it--just flowing strangely from perspective to perspective and forming connections in this plotless, weird way. My big hangup was that I didn't want to impose a narrative that didn't exist. However, when we found Kage's Furries in the Media videos, everything changed. A story started to take shape right in front of us that we couldn't ignore.

Even in that final round of interviews, I wasn't really sure what I was saying with the film until close to the end. It felt like everyone was right in some way, and my perspective was just another flawed, limited one. Then I realized Boomer is Jesus and that was it.

SuperSexySecretAgent3 karma

At what point did you realized that this movie was no longer just some little school project?

domrodrig2 karma

WAY later than you would expect. Christine and I kept thinking of it as a little school project even when we went to Slamdance. It felt like we were getting this awesome break, haha. I guess because we've always been so close to it, it never quite felt like a "real movie"

I think when I found out that the movie was on airplanes--that might be when it really sunk it.

carrottop4203 karma

I really liked the music in the film. Any plans to release the soundtrack?

domrodrig3 karma

I like it too! Yes, the soundtrack will eventually be realized by the composer Kevin Piper. Here's his bandcamp: leshy.bandcamp.com

Namrepus2212 karma

Exactly how much "editorial control" did Kage want in the film? Only his sections or the entirety of the movie?

domrodrig6 karma

This is the Anthrocon Media Policy:

If you film at AC, you're supposed to show the board of directors the final cut of your film. After they've seen it, they can recommend changes. These changes do not just pertain to footage shot at Anthrocon, but anything in the movie. Meaning that if they wanted Boomer cut entirely, they could request that.

If I refused to make changes that they request, they are then free to remove all Anthrocon footage from the film. I think that this policy is counter-productive and stands in the way of artistic integrity, so I did not screen the film to the AC board of directors, knowing that they would not like what I had to say about their stance on media control.

Disobeying the media policy is not against the law, though it is against the rules. It was perfectly within their rights to ban me from the convention.

ctcwired2 karma

How long have you been a furry, and how did you discover the fandom?

domrodrig2 karma

Totally not trying to be pretentious here--just trying to be as accurate as possible:

It depends on how you define furry, and if you think a person's identity is their choice or not.

If we're defining furry as "fascinated by anthropomorphic animals" which seems to be the go-to definition, that's been a thing since I was 12 years old--so I've been a furry for 13 years. However, if being furry is a conscious choice and something you decide, then I've only been a furry for about 2 1/2 years. We'll say that the beginning of that was when I started dating my boyfriend and rapidly getting more excited about the fandom in my personal life, on a day-to-day basis.

As far as discovering the fandom goes, I think that was probably when I was in high school...Yes! I was 14 years old, I think. I had been into the idea of furries before I knew that there was actually a community of people interested in this stuff. I think it was from looking up art and finding websites like the VCL, back in the day.

n0ctilucent2 karma

Any plans for another screening in Pittsburgh? Somewhere around, idk, July 2?

domrodrig2 karma

Hehe, maybe! I hope so. For those that aren't in the know, he's referring to Anthrocon weekend. I know we had been in talks with a theater about potentially showing it that weekend. That would be awesome. We'll announce when we know for sure.

nesquiksand2 karma

Can you expand on your friend Eric's role in the film?

domrodrig1 karma


Eric's my d-bag friend that we put in the special thanks for some reason

john_skip1 karma

Would you happen to know if this Eric is single?

domrodrig1 karma

Eric Slutz

Sanguinius_2 karma

My name is Dominic too and people, usually older people always pronounce it like "Domineek" and spell it Dominique. Does this ever happen to you? I don't understand what's so hard about "Dominic" lol

domrodrig1 karma

Yeah, hardly anyone gets it right. I don't know a lot of other Dominics. A lot of people spell it with a CK at the end, which is redundant, in my opinion.

Chaomayhem2 karma

Your film has a very interesting topic that certainly has my attention. So my question for you is,what kind of advice do you have for someone who is looking to make a documentary film? Anything they should know?

domrodrig2 karma

Thanks for asking! I'd say don't remain too married to your original ideas, because what happens is always different (and usually better, in my experience) than what you anticipate. The cliche about truth being stranger than fiction is accurate, of course. Don't be afraid to explore new concepts that have nothing to do with what you originally intended.

I'd also say film as much as humanly possible--even when you're sure that it's boring and pointless or wasting card space. There have been so many times when we'll have that lull, and I'll have my guys stop filming, and THEN something interesting will happen and we'll miss it.

Ooh also this is probably obvious but don't forget your b-roll! We forgot our b-roll a lot. Hah.

aob139411dl2 karma

Loved the documentary, really made me gain a new perspective on the fandom. My question is ... Why are you so cute? D'awww.

Nah really though, have you been contacted negatively by people in the community? (Ex.: Hate mail, having an account banned, etc). Also, I find it ironic Kage's position when he himself has an alter-ego (per se) with the whole Rogue thing going on.

domrodrig1 karma

Haha first I have to give the obligatory furry response: awwwwrrrff thaaaaanks ;

I was kind of paranoid for a while, because I knew that some furries would take issue with the film. Aside from being banned from Anthrocon, I remember having trouble promoting the film on PA Furry, a website with an open calendar where anyone can post furry events. Every time I would post an announcement for the Pittsburgh Premiere, the post would get deleted within a few minutes. Luckily, we sold out 300 seats, so it didn't end up making a difference.

I've yet to receive any hate mail. There have been some off-color comments on twitter and on forums, but nothing too personal. Sometimes that stuff gets to me, sometimes it doesn't. All in all, the response has been way better than I expected.

misscandyfeefee2 karma

I just wanted to say that I love your documentary! My good friends saw it on a trip to slam dance and I was really looking forward to seeing it for quite some time. I wanted to ask how conventions that are not anthrocon differ from anthrocon? I know that Pittsburgh is the furry Capitol of the world and anthrocon is the biggest and most well known convention, but as uncle kage plays such a big role in it, is the atmosphere there particularly different from other conventions?

domrodrig1 karma

Thanks a lot!

A huge difference between Anthrocon and others is that other conventions tend to rotate who is in charge every year, while Uncle Kage has been the chairman of AC for nearly 20 years. I think rotating chairs makes more sense as it keeps things fresh and allows new ideas to emerge as times change.

Anthrocon is the biggest convention and it really feels like it. A lot of people comment on the fact that it's harder to find your friends there because it's such a gigantic space with so many people. Other conventions, like Midwest FurFest in Chicago and Furry Weekend Atlanta have a central hub that everyone has to pass through, which makes it easier to run into the same people and gives, arguably, a more intimate and personal feel.

dannyyourd2 karma

What do you wish you did differently with the film, if anything?

domrodrig3 karma

It's weird because so much of documentary filmmaking for me is going with the flow and allowing mistakes to happen along the way. I certainly had no idea what I was doing for a good 90% of this, but that's sort of what made the movie unique, I think (read: I hope!)

I do think it would have been nice to have a few more interview subjects. I had wanted to talk to Dragoneer, the (previous) owner of Furaffinity.net and Kathleen Gerbasi, a furry psychologist. I'm not sure if they would have made it into the final cut, but I would have liked the option.

tekfox2 karma

How have the reactions differed from those who are within the fandom vs those who are on the outside or have never heard of furry before?

domrodrig1 karma

There are three groups of people watching the film--furries, non-furries that have heard about furry, and non-furries that have never heard of this before. I was hoping people from all three groups would be able to get something out of the movie, and thankfully that has been the case.

People outside of the fandom usually draw parallels to other communities more frequently. I've been told that these issues of community representation are not unique to the fandom. People outside of furry tend to see the people onscreen as more relatable than they anticipated.

My biggest critics are usually furries, of course. They're the ones that have much more of a stake in this, and I'm approaching a topic that they care deeply about. The ones that hate it really hate it, but the ones that love it really love it. Naturally, furries tend to get more hung up on what I got wrong or what I left out.

Rightfully so, many people in the fandom were convinced that there was nothing new I could show them about furry. That's why it's been such a pleasant surprise to read responses from furs that were gobsmacked by what the film really ended up being about. I expected less people would want to listen to me, so it's been very flattering to have the community, more or less, take the film seriously.

ctcwired2 karma

Now that the film is out and has gone around the community, does it seem like people grasped the concepts you presented with the film, or have people taken things the wrong way? Did any reactions surprise you?

domrodrig6 karma

I've been so pleasantly surprised with how many of the concepts we were looking to explore came across. I was honestly ready for everyone to hate it (though I hoped that wouldn't be the case). It's also so tough when you've worked on something for as long as this--you start to feel like maybe it doesn't make any sense.

Obviously it's nice to get praise for the film, but what I think is coolest to see are the people that don't necessarily agree with my point of view, but still think the film is worthwhile and use it to start a conversation.

Then of course there are the people that think it's absolute trash. Sometimes I feel like people already have their minds made up before they start it, but there have been plenty of valid criticisms as well.

ctcwired2 karma

Good to hear! I totally identify with "you start to feel like it doesn't make sense" when you work on something for so long. Yeah some people have their minds made up too quickly. Many people I know came in with an open mind and are happy with what they saw. I must say I've gained quite a bit of respect for you. :3 hug

domrodrig1 karma

hug thanks so much :-)

asonix2 karma

Is there any specific reason why you focused so much on Kage?

domrodrig4 karma

So much of what this film was about was removing authority from any one perspective and spreading it out among a variety of perspectives. Uncle Kage's authority, in my opinion, stands in the way of self-expression, which I personally value more than the "greater good" of the community.

I'm fascinated by the fact that we only really get Kage's persona in the movie. As a person, I'm sure he has more to him than the front he puts up when the cameras are rolling. To me, he's such an interesting foil to Boomer, who can't help but be 100% genuine all the time.

That final act may seem to focus heavily on Kage, but the editor and I tried to open up the conversation to broader ideas. It's not meant to be about Kage specifically, but what he represents--this idea that the community comes first and you come second. That idea is so central to the documentary's theme, so it felt important to focus on.

liarfryer1 karma

I heard your segment on Shade45 with Rude Jude (and found it really interesting), how was that experience? Jude is funny as fuck.

domrodrig1 karma

A lot of people who interview me are so worried about offending me or asking questions that will make me uncomfortable. Jude on the other hand was by far the bluntest person I talked to, haha. It was refreshingly different, though I'm sure I was blushing a lot throughout. Good thing it was a radio interview.

I'm sure that some of the furries that heard me on that show probably thought that I was being exploited and portraying the fandom negatively. I tried to make sure that I was only talking for myself, and not representing the experience of all furries. I do think that Jude was very funny and not malicious in the least. He was just asking the questions that most people are too squeamish to ask.

SuperJ0EL1 karma

Will you ever be not famous enough to come to my house parties?

domrodrig2 karma

You know I have a house party that same night, right?? I better have invited you guys. If not, I'm inviting you now. Yours is during the day and mine's at night so I'm sure we can COEXIST but I'm not sure how much party prep I'll need to do during the day, because now I have to outshine yours ;-)

n0ctilucent1 karma

Oh I just thought of a much better question. A lot of the criticism, valid or otherwise, has been predictable:

  • Too many fursuiters
  • Doesn't fully explain every aspect of the furry fandom
  • This isn't the video I can show my mom to convince her that furries are harmless and I should totally be allowed to go to Anthrocon
  • Actually, Kage Has A Point
  • They don't represent MEEEE

But has anyone criticized or responded to the film in a way you didn't expect?

domrodrig1 karma

I relate a lot to that Lena Dunham quote "Any mean thing someone is going to think of to say about me, I’ve already said to me, about me, probably in the last half hour." So for the most part, none of the criticisms have come as a surprise, valid or not.

One thing that did take me very much by surprise in the Pittsburgh screening was when Chew Fox was reading a comment that compared her to "someone who was found sexually assaulting children." A person in the theater immediately yelled out "He didn't assault a child! He was over 18!"

This was never meant to be an educational film that relies on facts as much as it relies on different perspectives and debatable ideas, so I never really thought to look into this throwaway line that Chew Fox said. To me, it was not about this particular guy as much as it was about how much people hated Chew. Still, here I was trying to get beyond stereotypes and I may have unintentionally confirmed an untrue rumor. I felt sick. After I got home, I looked up the case.

http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/Alan_T._Panda - this is the person that is referenced. He's currently in jail for propositioning a 15-year-old boy for sex via the internet. So, we actually both got it wrong. He didn't physically assault anyone, but the child in question was under 18.

Google told me that sexual assault is any type of forced or coerced sexual contact or behavior that happens without consent. Sexual assault includes rape and attempted rape, child molestation, and sexual harassment or threats. So, if sexual harassment qualifies as sexual assault, you could make an argument that even talking on the internet to a child about this stuff could qualify.

Anyway, that whole thing took me off guard. I don't think that anyone that watches the film thinks about this stuff as much as I do, but it's the kind of thing I do lose sleep over.

spikester811 karma

I enjoyed watching Fursonas, but I felt it was more a portrayal of Furries vs. Media than a documentary about the Furry Fandom in general. Thank you for making the film and thanks to the furries who participated!

My question is:

Why was there not one thing mentioned about the enormous amount of charity work and money raised for charitable causes by the fandom? To me that is one of the most important things we as furries do.

domrodrig5 karma

I'm really glad you brought this up, as it is one of the most common criticisms the film has received. You're right when you say that the documentary isn't really about furry fandom in general, meaning that it isn't meant to educate people on all aspects of furry.

I knew when I started this that it would be impossible to cover every aspect and please everybody, so I had to be selfish and focus on what I thought was interesting. I am interested in the fandom as a community and as an identity, and how those conflict with each other and the questions it raises.

Charity is a huge part of the furry community, and any furry you talk to will usually bring it up. However, charity is one of those things that is so unambiguously GOOD that it honestly feels more like PR when you bring it up. The film was meant to ask difficult questions rather than give simple answers. Like "What is the value and consequences of self expression?" and things that are more open to debate.

We all can agree that charity is awesome, so from a documentary perspective, it honestly felt boring to me.

throwaway_fursona1 karma

  • What was the vote at the Regent Theater showing for?
  • Do you think Fursonas will make it more difficult for the press to get access to furry conventions as a result?
  • What is your response to criticism that Fursonas was exploiting Boomer the Dog?

domrodrig1 karma

I had not actually seen Boomer's tweet before. Looks like he was just having a laugh, poking a little fun at Kage.

My hope would be that if the film continues to be received well by furs and non-furs, that it will open up a conversation about self-expression and public image. I think that all dialogue is positive, so I don't think that it will make furries (and conventions) more closed off from the press. Once the dust settles, maybe cons will relax about the media a little. One can dream, right?

Some people believe that to even talk to Boomer The Dog is to exploit him. I must admit that I too was worried about exploitation when I first began conversations with him. Is there any way to portray a man like this without judgment? In Boomer's case, I think the answer is yes. I'm confident saying that because I know Boomer and consider him to be a friend. Boomer makes some people uncomfortable and because of that, they don't want to get to know him. They don't want to understand him. They want to look away and stop thinking about him. And here comes someone like me who wants to put Boomer in front of a camera, so naturally they assume I want to parade his strangeness around for everyone to see. People that have seen the film can decide for themselves, but I think you'd have to have a heart of ice to dislike Boomer after the movie is over.

I truly believe that given the right treatment, any topic can be treated sensitively. I don't buy this idea that because something makes us uncomfortable, we should cover our eyes.

mike_retriever1 karma

Would I be able to interview you personally / chat with you? When the craze & fame from the documentary has subsided a bit. Please say what's the best way to reach you!

domrodrig1 karma

Absolutely. Would love to talk to you some more. Shoot me a DM on twitter @videothewolf

owenmpowell1 karma

Why do you think people become furries in the first place?

domrodrig3 karma

Oh man. I'm about to step into a minefield if I answer this one.

As they say, it's something different for everyone. Literally everyone. My experience is different from my boyfriend's experience, as well as every other furry I've met. Having said that, I think some generalizations can certainly be drawn:

A lot of people: grew up with Disney movies, found furry art on the internet, found furry porn on the internet,
discovered fursuits on the internet,
feel a more spiritual connection to their animal, feel a close connection to their pets, enjoy fantasy/roleplaying, enjoy fantasy writing, find furry through anime fandom, or bronies, or through the rave scene, or through the LGBT community,
or through fetish communities, or through mascotting ...

Furries, feel free to chime in and help me out with this one

Whoo, I've been here for almost the whole day. Will probably answer a few more and then PEACE OUT

DR_oberts1 karma

Yo Dom! This is Danny (one of the kids you had lunch with at Sundance.)

My opinion of the film has not changed from what it was when I saw it at the screening: just awesome. It's super excellent to see someone go from graduating college to really doing it with their passion project.

My only real question is if you've ever considered doing narrative work or if you're pretty much committed to documentaries?

Cannot wait for whatever the next thing is, stay dope.

domrodrig2 karma

Hi Danny!

It's good to hear from you! Are you graduating really soon?

I'd love to do some narrative work as well. That was what I started out really wanting to get into. I spent a long time working on a script for this feature-length monster movie that I was never able to get off the ground--one day, though.

I like the idea of doing something kind of experimental next that's like half-scripted/half real and kind of blurring that line more. That's always a fun thing to play around with.

Once I started doing documentary work, I really felt like I was in my element. Being on set for other things is so nerve-racking, in my experience. If you don't make your days, it's such a nightmare. But when you go over-time on a doc, it probably means that you're getting more than you need and cool, interesting, unexpected things are happening. Plus, for someone like me (who has no idea what he's doing a lot of the time), documentaries are definitely the way to go because they require patience and that ability to just go with the flow.

Thanks for writing in! I hope things are going well, dude.

BlueberryPitbull0 karma

Why were you such a jerk about Kage? That was very unprofessional how you talked about him. All this documentary seemed like was a slander-fest on Kage...

domrodrig1 karma

Slander involves making false statements about a person. Showing the unprofessional things that Uncle Kage has actually said and daring to disagree with them does not qualify as such, in my opinion.

nesquiksand0 karma

Can we be best friends?

FurryNikki1 karma

No he is mine

domrodrig2 karma

Nikki is my best friend and will be way more popufur than me after my fifteen minutes are over