1. Your film is entered in our Best Documentary Award. What is
your film about?
Samson is the story of a dog who suffered an unexpected spinal cord
stroke or canine FCE (fibrocartilaginous embolism). Veterinary
science does not know why it happens, but it usually happens to dogs
during activity, a piece of cartilage breaks off a disc and blocks
blood flow to the spinal cord, causing a stroke that result in
paralysis to one or all limbs. Samson had the worst kind of stroke,
being paralysed in all four limbs. My husband and I documented his
condition and progress for ourselves, with no intention of making a
film. Later, after we had successful produced the documentary Got
Pain? we decided to make a film about Samson’s story.
2. What are your ambitions with your project?
We want to bring to light everything we discovered about canine
stroke, especially the lack of help from Veterinary science for dog
owners. We found they push expensive MRI’s and surgery, costing
around $5,000-$7,000 that does not cure the paralysis, and they
offer little to no advice or hope. Many owners opt for euthanasia.
We felt our experience could help other dog owners whose dogs suffer
this terrifying and debilitating condition.
3. What was the most important lesson you had to learn as filmmaker?
That making the film is the easy part, getting distributed and seen
is the hard part. While is pretty easy to get launched on a
streaming platform, it is difficult to stand out from the crowd.
Marketing and finding the right distributor is as just as important
as making the film.
4. For what target group is your film?
While our target group is all dog owners, our film could also be
inspiring for humans overcoming spinal injuries, or anyone
overcoming a challenge. We want to give people hope, not just for
dogs with canine stroke, but for every difficult situation. Tragedy
always strikes suddenly, but holding on to hope can make the
difference between overcoming or losing a battle. It is about
doing everything you can for your pets, your loved ones or even
yourself and never giving up.
5. Why should distributors buy your film?
Our film has really touched people at festivals, winning 28 awards
so far. It hits home with people emotionally, and while it has sad
moments, it leaves the viewer feeling hopeful and uplifted. _Samson
_has the potential to find a large audience.
6. Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
My husband and I have done extensive work with chronic pain through
our 501c nonprofit, the Vandry Hope Foundation. (www.vandryhope.org
) We wanted to share some of our knowledge and empower people to
care for their own health and so we produced our first movie _Got
Pain?_ That experience helped us learn a lot about filmmaking and
led us to produce our second movie, _Samson._
7. Which movies are your favorites? Why?
While I love good sci-fi and horror movies, I also love a great
documentary, which can be hard to find! Many seem to struggle with
finding the balance between presenting too much information or being
too much filler. A great documentary tells a story and makes a
point. While my husband and I have watched a ton of documentaries,
there are only a few that have really left us thinking about them
afterwards, whether we learned something we didn’t know before, or
felt touched by the story.
8. What do you consider most important about filming?
The story! You can have beautiful sets, stunning camera work, great
special effects and still lose your audience if they are not
compelled by the story.
9. How would you rate current filmmaking?
I feel like the big studios have been turning out too many big
budget, overly CGI flops. There is a lot of flashy visuals, but
they lose the character development and the story. There are
several big budget movies lately I can think of that come off like
first person shooter video games, and while they have an audience
for a time, they come and go quickly. I appreciate that there are
so many Indie film makers out there trying to make it, but I feel
like they often suffer the same issue of trying too hard to make a
film visually appealing without a great story or characters to back
10. What are your next projects?
I hope to do a project in the future on nutrition and health, as a
follow up to Got Pain? While we can’t give people a one-size fits
all answer to their health issues, we can try to give people a good
foundation to start from, presented with accurate data and research.
I also want to expose some of the mis-leading documentaries out
there on veganism and fad diets, that distort the data to support
their particular diet. Nutrition is another area that has become so
over-saturated with information that it becomes harder and harder to
discern what is really true. There a lot of people out there
struggling with obesity and health issues and trying to find