Well Groomed is a journey into the kaleidoscopic world of competitive creative dog grooming.
Interview with Director Rebecca Stern
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you! I started Well Groomed as an exploration into dog fashion in NYC. I was intrigued (and honestly a bit confused) by people who spent so much money dressing up their pooches, no matter how cute the outfit.
However, during my research, I ran across pictures of Angela, Adriane, Lori, Cindy and Cat’s creatively groomed dogs online and I couldn’t look away. These dogs had been transformed into what looked like technicolor sculptures - Disney princesses, Coon Hounds, mystical animals. There’s was so much craft there I had never seen, and such an eye for detail and fun, that I had to meet them. So, I reached out and the film went from there!
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
You should watch the film because it’s beautiful and shocking! But also because the women are so passionate about what they do. The bit I love to watch the most, in the footage and on screen, is the attention to detail each groomer puts into their design. The women competing at Hershey love every brush stroke and shade of color on these dogs - and they spend hours between the conception of the design to the final product making it right. I have a deep appreciation for their artistry, and I think the audience will walk away with the same.
Beyond the dyed dogs, these women are hilarious - and even in the thick of the competition - their jokes really shine. If for nothing else, you should watch this movie to meet these artists!
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Setting out on the film, my goal was never to tease out universal themes. Instead, I wanted to get to know people outside of my own experience, and understand their drive towards this specific kind of competition. That said, after spending time with these women I’ve been so impressed with their ability to turn concepts into realities. Each one of them comes up with an idea of what they want to create on their dog at the beginning of the year and morphs it into a living art piece. If I had to select a universal theme in this short, it would be that more artists should take their concepts and do everything possible to bring them into the world.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
I started the film at Tompkins Square Park Halloween dog show looking for a short, and ended up traveling all over the country learning about which colors stay the most true on dog fur. The film’s gone through quite a few iterations.
The next transformation I would like to see with Well Groomed is from a short film to a feature documentary. There’s so much more the groomers have to say, and much more I would love to learn about in this subject.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Well Groomed will play at the Traverse City Film Festival on July 30th at 9:30 am (Don’t miss it!). I’m looking forward to hearing what this new audience has to say about the work.
So far, the short has been featured at the Independent Film Festival Boston and the Seattle International Film Festival. Both audiences were eager to learn more about the women involved, and had questions about how the dog designs were created. The audience members that I’ve spoken to after the film has been interested in learning more about this world, and it’s pushed me to begin to consider a longer piece.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
The challenge with this film is the same as the challenges faced by the women who compete in creative dog grooming - convincing people that the dogs in the film are quite happy to be involved. I haven’t been shocked by this reaction but, through the questions that have been asked, I’m beginning to understand how precisely this will need to be addressed in the future.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I’m currently developing a feature on the same subject, so I’d love to find potential collaborators!
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
At the moment, in order to move forward with a feature of Well Groomed, I need a Producer and development funds. I’d also love to get an editor on board early!
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Well Groomed is so much more about exploration than impact. If I was to even start to think about impact it would be around thinking differently about what art means, and how people outside of the classic art centers - New York, San Francisco, etc - have a role in shaping what modern art looks like.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
What would you turn your dog into if you could?
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Length: 9 minutes
Director: Rebecca Stern
Producer: Dana Kalmey
About the writer, director and producer: Rebecca Stern (DIRECTOR) has worked extensively in documentary producing, impact marketing and distribution. She was the Associate Producer on the bomb, an innovative installation and film experience which premiered as the Closing Night Event of the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival and worked as the Production Coordinator for Academy Award nominated documentary Cartel Land, which premiered at Sundance 2015.
Dana Kalmey (PRODUCER) is an adventure-seeking, team-playing producer and jack of all documentary film trades and more. Before Trapped, she associate produced (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies, with Academy Award-winning production company, Salty Features, The film premiered at Full Frame Film Festival and Hot Docs Film Festival, and aired nationally on CNBC in 2015.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Producers, Editors
Groomer to Groomer
Awesome without Borders
Release date: Currently