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Videographer puts pit bulls in the spotlight with documentary

Former Bermuda resident and videographer Gareth Fletcher has spent the past few years working behind the scenes as a cameraman for local media stations like VSB and CITV.

Now he is preparing for a moment in the spotlight, when his first documentary Bullied Breeds, premieres at the Bermuda International Film Festival tomorrow at 9.15pm.

The film takes a candid look at the controversial euthanization of pit bulls in Bermuda, through interviews with former dog wardens, professional trainers, veterinarians, owners — and even a former pit bull breeder.

Mr Fletcher said he hopes the film will open people's eyes to some of the issues affecting the restricted breed.

He started the filmmaking process last August, after his neighbour's pet pit bull, an eight-month-old puppy named Chelsea, was confiscated by a dog warden and put down. He described her as a “very placid dog” and said she would happily play with his neighbour's children, as well as Mr Fletcher's Jack Russell (who was actually the more aggressive of the two dogs).

“The children were quite upset when Chelsea was put down. It was then that I decided to make a film in her memory,” he said.

“I had planned to put together a few little clips for the SPCA, talking about pit bulls and their situation, and to show people that they aren't all aggressive.

“But more and more people kept calling and asking to talk to me and it sort of spiralled out of control. I figured ‘Why not push it a little further?' And decided to make a documentary.”

This is Mr Fletcher's first documentary. His wife, Kerry Fletcher helped out by conducting research for the project and finding people to share their stories on film.

They are currently living in Newcastle, UK, but Mr Fletcher is hoping to be on hand for tomorrow night's film premiere.

The filmmaker said he was feeling some mixed emotions ahead of the big reveal.

“In some ways I'm excited,” he told The Royal Gazette. “It's a good cause and I do feel for the pit bulls and those who really cared about their family pets and had them put down.

“But I'm also very anxious about it and not 100 percent pleased with the finished product. I feel like I could have done better with the technical side of things, but it was my first attempt.

“People watching it probably won't notice the technical things, but I notice all the mistakes, with sound issues and colour correction issues and editing problems and it troubles me a little bit.”

Although there were some challenges involved in the filmmaking process, Mr Fletcher said the best part was having the chance to meet the dogs and their owners.

“From what I have seen, the dogs I have met they are all beautiful,” he said. “And it was great meeting people who have a passion for their dog and genuine love for the breed.

“It opened my eyes to some realities about owning a dog. For some people it's not just about walking and feeding it. There's a lot more care involved. They are quite passionate about these animals. Some people treat their dog like a family member and that was all new to me.”

Bullied Breeds will be showing along with ‘An Ancient Window' by Bermudian Robert Zuill — at Liberty Theatre tomorrow night at 9.15pm. Tickets, $15, are available at: www.premierticketsglobal.com.

Former Bermuda resident Gareth Fletcher has made a film called 'Bullied Breeds' that will premiere tomorrow at BIFF.

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Published March 26, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 25, 2014 at 6:37 pm)

Videographer puts pit bulls in the spotlight with documentary

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