Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week

Category: Movies

How furries resist a commercialized fandom (Part 3)

by Patch O'Furr

Furry fandom often has DIY ethics (intentional or not). That can mean nonprofit volunteer-led events, and directly supporting each other’s art instead of just consuming corporate products. A Daily Beast reporter asked about it and I shared lots of info that didn’t all make the news — so here’s a followup in 3 parts.

Part 1 looked at the roots of fandom, with fans being “fans of each other”. Stigma and undermining showed how the fandom didn’t just follow the path of least resistance, it broke out under pressure. A sense of outsiderness and self determination has stayed ever since.

Part 2 looked at conventions making a platform for industry and expression that keeps the group untamed. Relations with the media got better while making a certain fandom identity (instead of letting others make it). It can even connect to deeper identity of members, because it lets them be who they want to be.

Furries care about fandom identity with a kind of tribalism. When members say they’re prone to “furry drama,” it can come from conflict about who defines it or benefits from it. That’s how The Daily Beast noticed conflict about a luxury “designer fursuit” brand, which usually wouldn’t matter to anyone except furries.

I told the reporter: “I think it really struck a nerve. It really got to the root of this possessiveness that the subculture has about itself and what it built for itself.”

It’s a case for looking at resistance to commercialism. Backlash at the brand was provoked by tone-deaf marketing, where bringing a mainstream approach wasn’t workable with art based on unique personal identity. Also, luxury brands don’t get made from scratch when others go back 100 years. (Fans in-the-know could compare this with furry brand Hyena Agenda, whose stuff speaks for itself without rubbing the wrong way against a certain fandom identity.)

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How furries resist a commercialized fandom (Part 2)

by Patch O'Furr

Furry fandom often has DIY ethics (intentional or not). That can mean nonprofit volunteer-led events, and directly supporting each other’s art instead of just consuming corporate products. A Daily Beast reporter asked about it and I shared lots of info that didn’t all make the news — so here’s a followup in 3 parts.

Fandom is big business in the mainstream – but furries have their own place apart. Why does this fandom grow independently? Let’s look at unique expression at the heart of it. Of course furries do a lot more things than this story can look at, but one aspect brings insight about decentralized structure.

Some subcultures rise and fall with media they consume. But the influences seen in Part 1 didn’t make one property in common for every furry. They didn’t rise with a movie like Zootopia. Instead, this fandom is fans of each other.

Part 1 looked at the roots and growth of their conventions. Furry cons make a platform for the specialized craft of fursuiting, with bespoke, full-body mascot costumes that cost thousands. They’re uniquely original expressions of identity. They’re tangible, huggable products of imagination. They put the fur in furry.

A lot of the fandom’s rock stars are fursuiters, who give it a photogenic face. Unlike stars of other fandoms, their original characters usually aren’t promoting something else — and fursuits can’t be downloaded or easily pirated — they’re for live experiences. It matters because online community can be temporary, but live events glue it together. They can show why this fandom is independent, here to stay, and not tied to certain media.

Rather than naming great works tied to their activity, you could say that the group is its own greatest creation. And if writing, art, or other creativity in the fandom didn’t rise out of a certain type of event, fursuiting did.

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How furries resist a commercialized fandom (Part 1)

by Patch O'Furr

Furry fandom often has DIY ethics (intentional or not). That can mean nonprofit volunteer-led events, and directly supporting each other’s art instead of just consuming corporate products. A Daily Beast reporter asked about it and I shared lots of info that didn’t all make the news — so here’s a followup in 3 parts.

Why is commercialism a topic for an often disparaged subculture? Compare furry fandom today to its roots. Times change, and hindsight can help to see why. Let’s look at how industry and media influenced the American roots in the 1970’s, how it grew, and changes that come with bigger scale than ever.

The 1970’s could be a hungry time for fans with a taste for comics and animation of the 1940’s-50’s Golden Age. As it faded, funny-animal comics died off while the business suffered under the Comics Code. In movies, the fall of the studio system contributed to a dark age of animation. Hanna-Barbera reigned on TV with cheap formulaic product. Disney’s feature studio almost went bankrupt with barely any new artists hired for a generation. Robin Hood (1973) spread the furry virus before it had a name, but the movie wasn’t well loved by the studio. Then a new wave of artists (such as Tim Burton and Don Bluth) came out of Disney while it had a rebirth, peaking with The Lion King (1994), which launched a thousand furry projects. But by the early 90’s the furry fandom was already fully fledged to take off on its own. It happened under the influence of the ups and downs of industry, but also in spite of it.

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Interview with Ash Coyote, Chip Fox, and Eric (Ash) Risher on The Fandom and Kickstarter

by Pup Matthias

Can you believe it’s been nearly six months since This is Life with Lisa Ling: Furry Nation premiered? It’s hard to believe it’s been that long already since Furries had such a positive piece done on us. As good as that hour of television was, it could only cover so much when presenting a community with over fortyish years of history to those with no personal connection. If we want to showcase just how diverse and vibrant our community is, we will have to do it ourselves.

That’s what inspired Youtuber/Filmmaker Ash Coyote, her husband Chip Fox, and Filmmaker Eric (Ash) Risher (who also directed the Doc Furries) to create The Fandom. It’s a documentary series for furries, by furries, that just wrapped up their first season. Below is a Q&A with all three of them.

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Furry Film Festival (F3) welcomes guest judges Jib Kodi, Jesse Cox, Freddie Wong of RocketJump

by Patch O'Furr

Here at Dogpatch, if there wasn’t a Furry Film Festival to report about, we’d start one. Not even kidding. It’s been discussed. I’ve organized furry screenings and shaken my fuzzy tail as a performer in them. So seeing this long-overdue idea come to life means news about it will get shared with great fan love.

New guest judges are being announced since Freddie Wong – now, a fandom animation star is adding support. (Previously seen on Dogpatch: How furry animator Jib Kodi found his art: “When I saw that tail move, I was instantly hooked.”)

FROM THE FURRY FILM FESTIVAL (F3): Jib Kodi Announced As Special Guest Judge

The Furry Film Festival (F3) has announced their second guest judge: Jib Kodi! Even though he only became active in the fandom in 2017, he’s become one of the most well-known animators in it, thanks to his short 10-20 second animations released on Twitter to great popularity. These represent some of the most prevalent themes and subjects in the fandom, from quirky humor or beautiful tributes that bring tears to the eyes (like honoring the late DogBomb).

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Furry Film Festival (F3) launches official video series, reveals special guest judge

by Patch O'Furr

Immigrants are seeking asylum. There’s an ominous threat of war. Is this the regular news?

No, it’s science fiction about furries landing on earth, created especially for the Furry Film Festival (announced here in March). The event is landing in Utah in late 2019. But today you can watch the F3 Official Series, Episode 1: ‘Provenance’, just released by film maker and event organizer ChronoWolf.

Furry fandom has great power to gain attention (as seen with billionaires wanting to get in the party… can we trade Elon Musk for space furries?) But it’s still a very niche indie community for creative production. There aren’t big budgets or sponsors for new events outside of the con box. The community is still reaching the potential to support an ongoing film festival.  Is it ready for the first one?

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Sorry To Bother You: this dystopian comedy is off the hook.

by Patch O'Furr

Announcement: Until March 31, vote for the Ursa Major Awards to support the best works of furry fandom!

RING RING. Did you ever get a scam caller who needs money immediately? One time I answered one of those and played along with a “dumb voice” (it was method acting) while I pretended to walk to Wal-Mart to send them a wire transfer. My friend played store noises in the background, and announced “Sir, you can’t be here without pants!” The caller persisted until I pretended to get lost and fall in a duck pond and couldn’t stop laughing at the quacking noises. Of course the dumb prank only tied up time (and maybe reduced scams), but now let me tell you about movies that are very worth the time. They’re wake-up calls that deliver truths about society while being artful and entertaining too.

VIDEO Q&A with director Boots Riley below. SPOILER WARNING – watch the movie before reading!

Sorry To Bother You (2018) is the debut movie by Boots Riley, a satire set in a worker strike among telemarketers. The story device that gets it going is code switching with different voices. The main character is a black guy (Cassius Green) who uses an absurdly ethereal “white voice” – when the actor Lakeith Stanfield opens his mouth, the voice of David Cross comes out. The trick makes him super successful at telemarketing. It gets him out of poverty that sucks down everyone around him, but sets him up to pay a horrible cost.

At first you think it’s a story about underpaid workers fighting for respect. Then it aims higher at capitalist dehumanization. Then it goes over the top with a hallucinatory sci-fi reveal that transforms the characters. The screenwriting is eccentrically formula-defying. Hollywood likes to play safe with big budgets and crank out polished turds, but this movie takes chances with a modest budget for a gloriously gutsy indie production with a message.

It looks like an odd choice to cover on a furry site, so why’s it here? The answer is in the reveal we’ll get to.

I saw Sorry To Bother You with Fruitvale Station (2013) at a small library screening for this program– RESISTANCE, RESILIENCE, & ANTICIPATION: ​ a fresh look at the Black Arts Movement in Oakland. It was more than an ordinary show, it was a special community happening, so let’s look at how the movies connect. (It’s also the second Dogpatch Press story from the same neighborhood after the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland.)

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Furry Film Festival (F3) launches new site and opens for film entries.

by Patch O'Furr

Announcement – until March 31, vote for the Ursa Major Awards to support the best works of furry fandom!

These are good times to be a furry and a film maker. First there was news about something I’ve waited a long time for (no it’s not getting myself a dog bath). Utah is getting the first festival for all the creatively choreographed con videos, documentaries, animation and more that are burgeoning with online viewers.

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Animation and documentaries break ground for an indie furry film scene.

by Patch O'Furr

Announcement: Until March 31, vote for the Ursa Major Awards to support the best works of furry fandom!

Hollywood favors big-budget explosion-based movies. For small indie makers, the epic approach doesn’t seem like an easy path to getting support. Instead, those in furry fandom might go for niche, weird and being real. Think of artists with bedroom studios. Think of high furry talent at low fandom cost. Think of making documentary with ingredients already available, like costumes worth millions in show-value, and a cast that needs no practice to feature their passion. There’s so much raw energy here waiting to come out.

With documentary, excitement is rising for The Fandom, a series in the works from Ash Coyote, Chip Fox and Eric Risher. (The first episode is out on March 22). Ash’s co-director and editor, Eric “Ash” Risher (Furryfilmmaker) already made a well-received documentary and won a regional Emmy. At this point in fandom growth, such projects seem viable to go wider. Furries have recently risen to pro Youtuber status with 100k+ subscriber channels. (Call them “pro-fans”, which may be a unique status for this kind of grassroots fandom). Meanwhile a CNN news feature earned good mainstream notice, and furries spawned two good feature films; Fursonas won an award at the Slamdance festival and Rukus screened at SXSW.  And for the first time in 2019, a furry film fest is coming to Utah (an idea I’ve been wanting to see for years).

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Vote for the 2018 Ursa Major Awards to support the best works of furry fandom.

by Patch O'Furr

Go here to vote for the 2018 Ursa Major Awards. The deadline is March 31.

Before nominees were chosen, the 2018 Recommended Anthropomorphics List made a much longer collection of suggested works. It’s useful as a guide for those looking for new furry stuff (and those interested in the recently added fursuit category may want to see the special requirements there.)

Please share this announcement, and help raise attention for the furry fandom equivalent of the Hugo awards for science fiction. They’re chosen by fans, not committee. Volunteers do the hard work of publicizing, organizing, counting votes, and mailing out engraved awards. These volunteers are the Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Association (ALAA), a membership organization dedicated to promoting works that furries love. They welcome suggestions for how to expand this effort.

The ALAA is supported by donations via PayPal (paypal@ursamajorawards.org) with 100% of the money going towards cost of the awards. Please consider donating.

The ALAA has done this for many years with only very modest help, and previously had stories here about lacking resources. One of the founders, Fred Patten, has recently passed away. In March 2018, member Bernard Doove commented:

The ALAA has needed volunteers for years, but we have lost members rather than gained, and we are all doing as much as possible to keep the Ursa Major Awards running. I’ll be donating money from my personal funds once again for the 2017 Award trophies, and I will be flying up to Queensland where the awards ceremony will be held at FurDU this year in order to run the event. The cost of that comes out of my own pocket too. I’m willing to do my bit for the cause, but we desperately need more people with the skills required to improve it.

Check out the UMA tag to learn more about them. Here’s the nominees for 13 categories. Winners will be announced on May 23–26 at AnthrOhio 2019.

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