The 2000s were not an easy time for those who were furry or gay. The mainstream media was still hyper-focused on the sexual aspects of fandom expression in a freak-show style of coverage, instead of the overall complexity of the community. The ability to marry individuals of the same sex was still not federally recognized in the United States and wouldn’t be until the early 2010s. It was in that era that one furry artist named Rukus took their own life at the end of 2008.
Now, just over a decade later, someone who knew this artist on a personal level has finished a documentary covering the life of their lost friend and their interlude with fandom. That director, Brett Hanover, contacted me and gave me the opportunity to view a screening of the film.
The show releases on Vimeo and their own website today and can be viewed there. You can choose to watch before I go over the details and review below. Though the review may help understand some of the nuances of the film.
A free to view documentary series, edited by Eric Risher and directed by Ash Kreis, was released on Kreis's Youtube channel AshCoyote. Her channel covers nonfiction topics of the furry fandom, while also doing streams of games of furry interest. Funnily since that’s the same kind of content my own channel covers it may seem strange that I’d want to promote their work, however in the non-fiction business it is important to encourage more sharing of information than less. Plus her production value is much higher.
Today we’re going to go over these seven videos. If you like these, then it you should consider throwing a few dollars toward their GoFundMe campaign to produce a full length picture about the fandom they plan on doing. It has 13 days left and is all or nothing, so they have to hit at least $20,000 to get any funding from the campaign. As of writing they don't have much more to go to reach that goal with over $18,000 raised at time of publication.
Our fandom had been waiting for a Sunday night to watch CNN, a moment of truth.
A year earlier, Anthro Northwest sprung a surprise documentary film crew onto its attendees. It immediately caused an uproar online. There was much debate and drama around it, and then things were silent.
The film crew belonged to Lisa Ling and her new flagship show for CNN, This is Life with Lisa Ling. An episodic documentary program to highlight some of the oddities in our humble society. I, like many furs I'm sure, had never heard of the show nor seen it. It felt like we were in for another nasty media portrayal.
Closer to the airdate, we discovered that our subculture was going to be the show's season finale. Pressure's on, right?
Have you ever had that moment at a convention? You know, that moment? You’re walking around, minding your own business when a random attendee walks up to you. They start chatting it up well enough, but several minutes later you realize that their story isn’t all that interesting. You’re bored and listening to an uninteresting person drivel on about their life story that you never asked for.
That experience is basically a summary of what you are in for with Netflix’s mockumentary Mascots. Scores of minutes wasted on backstories of uninteresting characters, going to an only slightly interesting competition, told in the most uninteresting way imaginable.
While some confuse fursuiting with mascotting, as some reviewers for this film have they are two completely different things. One fur on my twitter feed had requested if this was any good. To them I can say, no, no it is not.
Furries: A Documentary [trailer] is a 33-minute video about furry fandom directed by Eric Risher. The project started as a short student film he made for university in 2009 called Through Fox's Eyes [trailer], after which he began gathering footage to turn it into a full documentary.
In 2015, Eric used Kickstarter to fund the final stages of the production, and doubled the modest $2,500 he'd hoped to receive. The completed work appeared in May 2016 – as did the online release of another fandom documentary, Fursonas (81 min.) by Dominic Rodriguez, who'd secured more attention and better distribution.
I think Furries is definitely the stronger of the two; it projects a much more positive vibe!
Fursonas has certainly already stirred the fandom up with its announcement. This independent documentary film made by Dominic Rodriguez was developed over 4 years from 2012 to 2015. It follows a handful of furries from different walks of life and their take on their identity and the identity of this crazy little group they find themselves within.
The film is broken up into two main parts. The first half introduces the fur fans that we'll be getting perspectives from, and the second half gets into topics that are typically the main controversies of the fandom: sex, the media, and the conflict between individual identity and complying to societal norms.
TRIGGER WARNING: If you a major fan, or personal friend, of Uncle Kage then this film may prove difficult to watch. Oh yeah, and there is a scene with dildos as well, so viewer discretion and such.
I wanted to talk to people who are passionate. That was a good line to draw: if you’re going to go so far as to make or buy a costume, you’re passionate about furry. When I asked the people in the film if you consider furry a lifestyle, half of them said no.
JS: Other than the badges of the furries interviewed, there’s no furry art in the film. Do you think you should’ve included some art?
DR: The thing I knew when I went into this is everybody has a different way of experiencing and appreciating furry. There’s no way to please everybody or to accurately do justice to everything unless the movie was six hours. I had to be selfish and focus on what really mattered to me which is furry as an identity and as a community. I love art and you can show footage of people drawing; but I wanted to do something different, something I cared about. I wasn’t going to spend four years on something I didn’t care about.
When people say furry isn’t a lifestyle I understand that, but when they say it’s just a hobby I think they’re almost giving it a disservice. There’s so much wrapped up in it, and I think people in it take it seriously. I don’t want people to think [the fandom is] just freaks obviously, but it was important people cared about what they were talking about.
If any of you readers are like me, then you only follow Flayrah when it comes to furry news. I saw an article shared around a year ago about furry music, and that's how I found this site.
But amidst the posts about cons being cancelled and the abundance of Zootopia reviews came a shining light no one saw coming. Mostly because even on a site about the very subject it is meant to educate on, it got no attention.
This film is Fursonas, a documentary about the furry lifestyle. A detailed look at the friendly fandom that CSI ruined public perception of all those years ago, such that we still feel repercussions today. It wasn't until my best bud crossaffliction mentioned this movie in, of course, a Zootopia-related post that I became aware of it. I started to dig, and realized what a gem we'd been missing.
Dogpatch Press (who I've now since started to follow alongside Flayrah) posted an incredible article on this film, which I suggest all members read, as this post is just to drum up hype for this film. One line from that article holds substantial water for me; Zootopia is the film we want, but Fursonas is the film we need.
If you were waiting for a coffee-table book mixing fursuiting and cultural research, Furries: Enacting Animal Anthropomorphism might be it. It was created by Romanian Carmen Dobre, a Master in both cultural studies (Univ. of Bucharest) and photographic studies (Leiden), who is pursuing a PhD at the Bucharest National University of Arts. [tip: Dr. Kathy Gerbasi]
The 152 page hardback contains 49 photographs, 13 of which can be previewed online (scroll in for a full view). Produced by the University of Plymouth, it's also available from eBay UK or Australia, Amazon U.S. or Canada, Albris, and Fishpond.
Carmen's furry photography began in Holland as a university project, and spread to France, Romania, Germany, and the UK (assisted by Fotonow CIC). Her work was exhibited September-October 2011 (video) at the Rue de l'Exposition gallery. One photo was a finalist for the 2013 Celeste Prize. She has also created a brief study of furry fandom (PDF).
Since then, film director Joel Allen Schroeder envisaged a documentary about Calvin and Hobbes, and in 2007 began filming interviews with fans. In 2009, Schroeder created a Kickstarter campaign to fund his project, which raised twice its initial goal of $12,000. A subsequent campaign raised $96,000. Now complete, the movie (Dear Mr. Watterson) has been picked up by a distributor and is scheduled to arrive in theatres November 15.
There's been much discussion and speculation about a casting call for Furries to appear on MTV's reality show, True Life. The casting VP at the show's producer Asylum Entertainment was nice enough to give 30 minutes to answer questions about it.
The phone app I used didn't record (I blame an app update), so this is paraphrased from notes. I would say that the answers were very, very on-message. I did ask personal stuff to make it relatable - perhaps some responses would boil down to "just doing a job", or it might have caused shyness about getting personal. (Understandable, considering that the casting call has gotten hate mail.)
I aimed to ask tough questions, balancing sympathy towards the challenge of putting out professional media with being a Furry fan who's shamelessly obsessed with fursuiting.
Logo have published their therian documentary (41:47; YouTube), covered here in January.
Producers followed and interviewed several teenagers and young adults (and their parents), including the crew of FurCast and an otherkin forum administrator, Shiro Ulv.
In a poll of 120 therians/otherkin, a majority appear dissatisfied with the piece; fully 80% felt it was only slightly accurate, or not at all. The same proportion took issue with the inclusion of furries (including various fursuiters) in the documentary.
Similar numbers saw it as important for therians/otherkin to educate the public about themselves; however, views were mixed on participation in television documentaries. Most (83%) favoured the idea of therians/otherkin creating their own documentary.
The film promises to follow a teenager from Brunswick, Georgia, who believes he is a wolf, and is aiming to confirm this by changing his name legally to his wolf name, Shiro. It also introduces the viewer to a commune of ‘otherkin’ in upstate New York that includes a human ‘raccoon’ and ‘leopard’ in an “inter species poly-amorous relationship.”
Update (30 April): The documentary has been released.
A small team of Pittsburgh filmmakers is raising money for a documentary about fursuiters.
The group from Point Park University intends to visit several destinations, and seeks funds for "transportation, feeding our crew, [and] going from place to place". Despite drumming up support on Facebook, they have only raised $1,735 of their $5,000 goal, with 60 hours to go.
According to a short piece on the Steel Cinema film blog:
... will focus on the unusual hobby by following a diverse group of several fursuiters in the U.S. The students hope to honestly examine this colorful sub-culture by taking a humanistic approach and getting to know the people inside the costumes.