Tommy Hyde’s beguiling feature documentary debut UNDERDOG follows a hardscrabble Vermont dairy farmer Doug Butler. Doug has an offbeat passion – dog mushing. A local folk hero, Doug trains his team of mutts on the family farm with a dream to compete at the world championships in Alaska. But the demands of being a small-scale family farmer in a changing world are constant. Keenly aware of the fate of the other family farms that used to dot the landscape, Doug has managed for years to play one creditor off against the next to survive another season. But with the debt now insurmountable and Doug’s thoughts plunging into depression, his dogs offer solace…and perhaps a way out. On a cold March morning Doug pulls out of his driveway in a rusted-out truck carrying 22 dogs, bound for Alaska. The journey will prepare him for what he’ll confront when he gets back: the sale of his farm and a race to craft a new destiny. Director, cinematographer, editor Tommy Hyde joins us for a conversation on how met his charismatic subject, being welcomed into Doug’s energetic world, traveling across country with Doug and working how working with UNDERDOG producer and writer, Aaron Woolf and producer Kyra Schaefer from Mosaic Films Productions made this possible.
Don’t miss the theatrical premiere of UNDERDOG at Laemmle Royal this Thursday, August 10th. Screening to be followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Tommy Hyde and Aaron Woolf, as wells as the film’s unforgettable subject Doug Butler.
About the filmmaker – Tommy Hyde (Director, Camera, Editor) is a documentary filmmaker whose work explores people and stories at the fringes of society. Underdog, a film ten years in the making, is his directorial debut. He frequently collaborates with Mosaic Films, and is currently in production on two docu-series with them as a producer and writer. He is a graduate of Middlebury College and resides in Burlington, VT.
Kyra Schaefer (Co-Producer) is a NY-based documentary producer and editor whose work centers around the intersection of faith and feminism. She holds a B.A. in digital media and video production from Marymount Manhattan College. She is the co-producer of The Happening (in production) and Ordinary Saints (in production), both Mosaic Films Productions.
Aaron Woolf (Producer & Writer) is a Rockie, Logie and Peabody award-winning documentary filmmaker who tells stories that depict the human dimension of government policy. His work has been released theatrically in the US, Europe and Japan and broadcast on PBS, the Sundance Channel, and numerous international networks including RAI, ARTE, and SBS. Aaron is active in community and conservation efforts in New York’s Adirondack North Country, and in 2014 he was the Democratic nominee for Congress from the New York’s 21st district.
“Tommy Hyde’s heartwarming documentary traces the life of an aging Vermont dairy farmer. Hyde’s subtlety as a filmmaker, along with the fabulous, eccentric central figure, bring to mind David Lynch’s The Straight Story. Both films are remarkable for how seemingly unremarkable they are. Stick with it, and the film’s subliminal power will sneak up on you.”-Alex Saveliev, FILM THREAT