Meet five large men and the little dogs they love.
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Cat Mills
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I decided to make Big Men, Small Dogs because when I moved to Toronto I started noticing these really large men with these teeny, tiny dogs. Several times I honestly thought they were walking kittens. It wasn't something I was used to. Growing up I always saw men with very large dogs. It was something that immediately caught my attention and I perceived it as just being funny and cute, but then I started to think about it and question why I thought it was so funny. I felt that the fact that men were feeling confident to own small, "feminine" dogs really showed a shift in our gender norms, which was really interesting. I also thought it would be a really fun and lighthearted way to look at gender expectations.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
It's funny. That is the first comment that I get. People immediately are drawn to the humour of it, but as they get to understand the relationships between these guys and their dogs they enjoy it on different levels. It's a fun watch and a great conversation piece.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The film is about big guys with little dogs, but it is framed by the general public making assumptions about them because they have small dogs. Women find them sweet and nurturing, men and women think that the dog must belong to a girlfriend.
I find masculinity very interesting right now. There is a shift happening with men in which they are starting to question their identity and what it means to be a "man". We're also seeing men break out from rigid norms, and challenging expressions like "man up" or "boys don't cry". Those sayings can be really damaging to people and deny them a sense of vulnerability. The guys in the film are challenging those expectations, but they're doing it with these really cute dogs that needed homes.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
I didn't really have a script for this. I just had a concept that was interesting to me and that people understood immediately. I found the guys in the film through various avenues - some online on pet groups, others through friends and one was a guy I already knew. As I started to talk to them I realized that there were these deep connections between them and their dogs. What is used in the film were my favourite parts, divided into three main categories: how they ended up with these dogs, why they care about the dogs, and how society perceives them.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
So far the feedback has been phenomenal! CBC Docs released the film directly to Facebook. In under a week the film had already hit 500K views, 7K shares and 4K likes. I was chatting with someone the other day and mentioned the film and he said that all of his friends were talking about it. It's pretty wild. There have also been hundreds of people posting photos of big guys with small dogs. CBC even compiled a collection of some of their favourites.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
It surprised me in that the feedback was almost entirely positive. There were maybe a handful of comments that thought the film seemed trivial and unimportant, but for the most part all of the comments were about how much they loved the film, or else people were tagging their friends in it. Someone even wrote that they were having a really rough time and the film made them feel a lot better. That was lovely. There was a lot of people commenting that they loved little dogs too.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I'd love for more people to see the film. I think most of the audience has been from Canada. I'm curious to see the response from people from different countries and whether it provokes a conversation.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
The film already has a broadcaster in Canada through the CBC, and it is already available online. I'd love for some journalists to catch on to it and see whether this does get a larger conversation going about masculinity.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I'd also love to see more dogs get adopted from rescue groups and find homes.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
What do you think when you see a large man walking a small dog?
Would you like to add anything else?
This film was a ton of fun to make. I'm really grateful for the reception it has received and the support I received from the Toronto Arts Council and the CBC to actually get it made.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I'm actually working on another short doc right now which also has to do with modern masculinity. The film is called Mark and Carlos do Burlesque and it is about two Air Guitarists who are learning burlesque, a traditionally female dominated profession. Another film that I've produced, which is directed by Zach Jama, will be coming out soon on CBC as well. The film is called Shelina Stand Up! and it explores the comedy of Shelina Merani, as she uses comedy to challenge perceptions of Islam. She's a hoot.
Interview: December 2017
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
Big Men, Small Dogs
Meet five large men and the little dogs they love.
Length: 8.42 minutes
Director: Cat Mills
Producer: Cat Mills
Writer: Cat Mills
About the writer, director and producer:
Cat Mills is a documentary filmmaker based in Toronto. Her films explore bigger issues in a lighthearted way.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Journalists
Social media handles:
Funders: Toronto Arts Council, CBC Docs
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? Online!