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Making Compelling Documentaries / The Dogman Phenomenon

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Date Host Connie Willis
Guests Tom Jennings, Joedy Cook

Tom Jennings joined Connie Willis (info) in the first half to discuss how his company interlaces archival news and radio reports, and rare and unseen material to produce compelling documentaries on everything from Princess Diana to the Mercury 7 astronauts. Jennings has traveled the world producing documentary films, always looking for new ways to tell stories that are informative and entertaining after getting his start as a news reporter in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. He never attended film school but learned on the job, noting that "if you show a genuine interest in someone and who they are and what they do, they are more than willing to teach you what they do."

One of the productions of which Jennings is most proud was his 2017 documentary, "Diana: In Her Own Words," which used extensive recordings of Princess Diana to tell her story against a background of archival footage. He described the saga of obtaining the recordings from British journalist Andrew Morton, who kept them in a bank safety deposit box. Jennings said he impressed Morton with his idea to use only the recordings of Diana's voice with no narration to tell the story. Jennings also produced a documentary on the Challenger disaster. It featured footage of schoolteacher/ astronaut Christa McAuliffe rehearsing lessons she was planning to broadcast from space, which they found buried in the material handed to them by NASA, and that other production companies had missed. He said his method relies on a few simple rules: "Just be curious, tell me a good story, and actively listen" to what people have to say.

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Joedy Cook is the founder of the North American Dogman Project, which gathers information about the phenomenon worldwide. In the second half, he described the tradition of dog-headed humans as ubiquitous throughout history, appearing in such diverse cultures as the Vikings, the ancient Greeks, and Native American tribes. The name "Dogman," he said, was coined by researcher Linda Godfrey to "get people's minds away from the werewolf image." Many witnesses have described Dogmen wearing tattered clothes, which Cook believes may be the entities' attempts at disguising themselves. He recounted a particularly chilling account from a group of women in Germantown, Ohio, who were admiring a large dog crouching outside the window of a beauty salon "until it got up on two legs and walked away."

Cook emphasized the aggressive nature of these entities, saying "every encounter people have has been very terrifying," and "like a harassment that is going on," since many witnesses later see the creatures apparently stalking them at home. One particularly grisly and horrific case involved a man who bred German Shepherds, with eight of 12 of the animals killed by what he believes was a Dogman that followed him back from a sighting in the woods (related images). Cook also described bizarre sightings from military personnel that feature "blue or white flashes of light," which he believes may be portals opening or closing. He has documented numerous government agencies visiting his website, and at one of his lectures, Cook said a representative from the NSA told him "don't be surprised if you get a call from a government agency asking for assistance on the subject."

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