It took filmmaker Jeremy Tucker six years to acquire enough footage for his full-length documentary on the controversial sport of dog weight-pulling, but now, he’s just months away from completion.
His documentary, called "Body Pound," explores the global sport of dog weight-pulling and the people involved. Tucker has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $15,000 to travel across the country to elite competitions. He also plans to use the money to buy himself time in post-production.
Tucker is an anthropologist with a focus on ethnographies, which use qualitative research to explore cultural phenomena. With patience, he gradually gained access to the people involved in the competitions, eventually being allowed to film the events and conduct in-depth interviews.
Casually, he began showing some of the footage to his industry friends.
"It was a passion project," Tucker said. "These people kept telling me that it was gold. They said, ‘You need to finish it.’"
The sport requires dogs—primarily pit bulls—to pull carts loaded with weight for a certain distance. Weight is increased until the dogs are pulling as much weight as they can. Classes are organized by both weight and gender. The winner for each class is the dog that pulled the most weight per pound of their own body weight.
Cash prizes are rare, according to Tucker.
"It’s not lucrative at all," he said. "Most shows award trophies and ribbons. When you account for how much they spend on travel, it’s just not cheap. It’s not uncommon for owners to have several dogs."
In addition to the cost of being involved in the sport, it’s also controversial.
"The pit bulls dominate the sport," he said. "And, of course, pit bulls have a stigma. Other people can’t believe they’re making these dogs pull the weight."
But a closer look at the sport reveals a community of people who show great affection toward their dogs.
"These dogs are treated like athletes and commonly are on special diets," Tucker said. "The lifestyle is truly exciting."
In the film, Tucker shows the competition-based aspect of the sport through the stories of several competitors. He plans to give an overview of the sport, plus a deeper look into the passion behind it.
Through the fundraising campaign, Tucker hopes to raise enough to travel and shoot footage at premiere weight-pulling events. This would include trips to Texas, California, Mexico and St. Louis. He also plans to cover an October event in Soddy-Daisy.
More information on the project, including information on how to donate, is available here.
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