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Exclusive Interview | Thommy Morais

Synopsis
A journalist from Chile lets us join him and his beloved dog Popi on their journey across Chile. A true and shocking depiction of the sad reality most dogs live in that country everyday is showed by these brave filmmakers.
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1 – Firstly, congratulations on this achievement. Popi is a central part of the whole film. How much do
you know about her backstory? How did she handle the filmmaking process? Was she able to engage
with some other canine characters from the film?

I was actually there in Ecuador when Thomas adopted Popi. We both lived in Montanita, Ecuador while
traveling and I was able to see Popi grow up. As a “traveling” dog, Popi had no problem with the
filmmaking process, in fact, she loved being in front of the camera and easily made friends all over the
countries. She is the perfect example of giving a street dog a life.

2 – What’s your opinion about the general perception of dogs in films and tv? Do you think something
could (or should) be changed in the big commercial market in order to raise awareness on the subject of
stray dogs?

Yes! Most of the time that we see dogs in movies or ads, they are the typical purebred Golden retriever,
labrador, german shepherd,… why not any dogs? We ourselves reached out to many companies and got
shut down for that exact reason, Popi is not a sellable or a relatable dog, that she was too “ugly” to sell.
This is just as much of another kind of racism. People should be more open to mongrels as they are just
as beautiful. At the end of the day, dogs shouldnt be used as some kind of object to sell.

Popi the travelling dog

3 -The shock value of the camera work in this piece is referenced directly during the documentary.
Can you explain how the production approached the situations in which misfortuned dogs were
involved?

It was definitely hard to film, especially coming from Canada myself, I wasn’t used to seeing that many
animals in distress. We did everything we could to help. We unfortunately didn’t have the power to adopt
all of them but we fed them, used the social media power to share their story to hopefully find them a
family but first and foremost, we approached them with the most respect. I, as an artist, wanted to help
with my art of Filmmaking, bringing the awareness with my passion was my way to help them and
change people’s way of living.

4 – Personally, I think the brief interview with the cameraman is one of its biggest highlights. How did
this possibility emerge? Was it premeditated at all?

Not at all, we were in the south of Chile, in Puerto Montt and the situation was pretty bad. Dogs were
basically dying on mountains of garbage. Our good friend and cameraman Fede felt like he had to say
something. It was also new to him coming from Argentina and his heart was just hurt from what he was
seeing. We filmed a lot of interviews during the production but this one, was very special coming from a crew member that had to film all of it everyday.

5 – Even though stray dogs are the focus, would you consider Chile itself to be almost a main character
of this journey? Can you picture yourself making the same documentary somewhere else?

Yes, I myself travelled the world quite a bit and Chile is one of the places with the worst cases of stray
dogs. At the time of filming, they had an estimate of 2.5 million stray dogs. So yes, Chile is definitely a
main character as we try to make the country understand that they need to change how and what they
do on an everyday basis to help diminish the pain it’s causing to animals. It’s the reality of the Chilean
dog.

The plan from the very beginning was always to film other documentaries of the Viajando con Pulgas
line in other countries. Chile might be one of the bad ones in terms of street dogs but it’s not the only
one. Unfortunately making movies isn’t free. We founded this project ourselves and 50% of the profits
actually go back into donations to animal shelters. So we are looking for investment to keep this going
and show the reality of the problem in many countries, in the world!

6 – As a filmmaker that tries to act as a beacon on a particular subject, what do you expect from your
audience after watching this film? Did this bring you any negative repercussion during production or
afterwards?

We had a lot and I mean a lot of discussion about how much we should show and what is too much or
not enough. We came to the conclusion that we needed to show “the reality”. The reality is cruel, the
reality hurts but the reality is the truth. We were lucky to have all the support from everyone. People
understand what we are trying to do. Everyone secretly knows that they need to do a bit more and
because of that, they listen to our message. Our film is hard to watch and we often see people close
their eyes and almost every time we see them cry. I think it’s necessary to show people and I expect
every single person to just sit there and think. Think of what they can do to help, how they can
change and how they can help others to change. Just to give our best friends a better life.

7 – Why did you choose the feature documentary format? Is this a thematic you´d like to continue
exploring through future feature documentaries? Is there another format (short, fiction, animation) that
you consider appropriate to handle this topic?

We originally did a 30 minutes version and after showing it all over Chile and getting good reactions,
reviews and attention. We figured we should go all the way and make it a full length movie. We are open
to changing the format for sure. I do think it could play well in a series long or short, as long as our
messages always come through. At the very beginning we also had the idea of a narrative movie but
more about how Thomas gave a life to Popi and how they traveled together through South America. With
some help, I hope we can keep sharing our love in any way to these dogs. All thanks to Popi!

8- What was the most difficult thing you dealt with in the process of creating the documentary?
How did obstacles or inconveniences transform during production?

Other than seeing all the poor dogs, budget was our biggest enemy. Our budget was extremely low and
traveling the country isn’t cheap. I’ve already bought all the equipment, but the big question was always,
where are we gonna sleep and what can we afford to eat? Fortunately, the support given by every city
and people who followed us through social media was unbelievable. It actually helped us get closer to
them and find stories we would’ve never found. The other thing was distance. I eventually had to go
back to Canada and sharing the post work with Thomas back in Chile was a lot to handle. Him and I were
talking back and forth every day trying to fit all in our schedule with on top of that a 4-5 hours time
difference. It was definitely a learning curve for me. Filming abroad is a challenge but we made it work
and we know that the next one will be even better.

Historias con Pulgas: La Realidad del Perro Chileno
Feature Length Documentary
Genres: Documentary, Drama | Runtime: 70 minutes | Country of Origin: Chile, Canada | Country of Filming: Chile | Language: Spanish | Shooting Format: Digital |
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