WE MET OUR GOAL! Thank you everybody who supported and shared the campaign.
BUT... we are still campaigning, to raise funds to promote the film to the press, submit to and attend festivals, make posters and so on. There are just a few days left in our Kickstarter campaign. The film will be made. Please now help us get to as wide an audience as possible.
Since 1991, Tokyo's "Superhandicapped" pro wrestling league Doglegs has been smashing stereotypes about how the disabled should behave.
All fighters and staff are volunteers. Nobody's making a cent. And all-comers are welcome. Even the able bodied…
Originally conceived as an act of defiance against an indifferent society, Doglegs has become a lifeline for the marginalized and a place where the disabled get to define themselves on their own terms.
This film is an immersive, character-based journey that follows Doglegs ace, Shintaro. After 20 years of glory, Shintaro dreams of life beyond the mat, but his mentor isn’t letting go without a fight.
Set against this backdrop of this impending showdown, the film takes us on an extraordinary journey inside the lives and loves of five prominent Doglegs members battling to claim their place in the world.
I had lived in Japan for 14 years when I first heard about Doglegs.
Coordinating shoots for foreign TV shows, shooting documentaries and news, I'd filmed a lot of fascinating things and also grown weary of “wacky Japan” cliches... but this was something else.
I went to an event for a first hand look. And I didn’t know what to think or feel.
Doglegs matches are willfully provocative. Deaf versus blind, physical versus mental, nurse versus patient.
I was in shock. It felt wrong. But the venue was full of supporters and family members, disabled and not, laughing and cheering. There was warmth, humor and a celebration of difference and individuality – including disability. That felt right. And it was “punk rock” – home made, self-effacing, uncompromising and fun.
I started to realise that the cognitive dissonance I was experiencing was by design. The wrestlers were demanding that you look at them. And in turn, at yourself...
That was an experience that I felt strongly should be shared with others, and one I've tried to capture in the film.
I set about gaining access...
A documentary can only be as good as the trust that allows it to be made, and I'm very lucky to have been allowed a lot.
I was granted exclusive access to the group, filming backstage, ringside, and in the personal lives of the wrestlers. Dozens of volunteer crew members and Doglegs volunteers have donated their time and services for free or at a reduced rate. Doglegs has given me their 20-year archive of video material to work with.
Now, the film has been accepted to one of the biggest documentary festivals in the world: Hot Docs, in Toronto. Legitimacy at last! :)
But this is just the start of the journey. While we have the wind in our sails now, there are expensive, daunting obstacles ahead. We need to finish it, package it and promote it or run the risk of fading into obscurity.
The film has thus far been funded almost entirely out of pocket. Everyone who has been involved with the film has worked for free or a discounted rate. It’s been a labor of love. But we do need to pay for
- Post production: sound mixing, editing, color grading and making digital cinema packages, closed captioning and quality checks
- Legal fees and insurance
- PR (posters, web etc)
- Festival submissions and travel costs
Doglegs is not preachy and is definitely not PC. In fact, it’s provocative as hell. But it’s got a big heart and the film, and the group, deserve a big audience.
Hot Docs has given us massive momentum - we need to seize the moment. With your support, we make that happen.
Risks and challenges
I've taken a documentary (Kiwi Tsunami, 2003) from funding through extensive distribution before, and am aware of the challenges ahead.
Fortunately, the heavy lifting on this film is already done and Doglegs is almost complete. The main challenges remaining are financial.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)