Baxter and Me tells a story of my life through my dog companions. The film shows my daily dealings with big, brown, beautiful Baxter, a Labrador dog. I love everything about Baxter, except when he is barking right in my ear! I’ve lead a varied life as filmmaker, activist, teacher and dog trainer and I still do all this at 63.
So why is my most affectionate relationship with a dog? What am I doing with a large wild animal in my kitchen and my bed? Do we really love dogs? Do they love us? Maybe this is how we all should live, in company with loving animals?
This film gently observes this relationship through immersive poetic images, teamed with music and song. My personal narration will wryly raise the serious questions about inter-species intimacy, love and affection, and why and how I live my life the way I do. But the broader question this film raises is – if we can love and empathise with dogs like this, how can we justify our treatment of other non-human animals?
How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?
Through a personal story this film makes the point that dogs are in many ways just like us. They love, they care, they want the best for their 'people'. If dogs are like this, are all mammals basically similar? This film follows the work of writers such as J M Coetzee, Peter Singer, Temple Grandin, Jane Goodall and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas whose close portraits of animal/human relationships have led the way in advocating for respect for animals. The films seeks to improve animal welfare by working from our most intimate and well known human/mammal relationship, - the one we have with dogs. This is the first documentary film to actually detail the intimate relationship between a human and a dog. Animal charities will want to support this film as it is part of a way to change attitudes that will increase our respect for our animal cousins.
What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?
Aims & Objectives
We're hoping to raise peoples' consciousness about the significance of the human/dog relationship and the wonderful pleasures we both get from this. We hope our film will have a widespread impact through cinema release and festival exposure as well as via a crowd campaign, twitter and a BAXTER AND ME dog-blog Gillian will write. Many people love dogs without making the connection to other animals. Many people all over the world with dog twitter accounts will hear and see and promote this film so it reaches many and makes many question the way we treat animals. We will be able to measure the response to the film via the films Facebook page, Twitter and the dog-blog, as well as surveys we will distribute at screenings.
What is your education and outreach strategy?
The main outreach strategy is to get this film on as many screens as possible. We think because of the 'pet labrador' angle this film may be quite popular. We expect cinema release and television sales, here and internationally. We also expect this film may be put on syllabi for school and university courses.