EXCLUSIVE: One Mile Away director Penny Woolcock is to make a documentary about illegal dog-fighting for UK broadcaster Channel 4.
Going To The Dogs (working title), which recently finished shooting and is now in edit, explores the underworld of contemporary dog-fighting in Birmingham.
It is being made through social enterprise Latimer Creative and will draw on interviews with dog-owners, historians, academics and criminologists.
Woolcock began shooting in late summer and aims to complete the edit by the end of January.
It is her third film for C4’s Cutting Edge strand and was ordered by C4 commissioning editor, documentaries, Emma Cooper, who said: “Penny is one our foremost filmmaking talents and once more she has secured the most exceptional access to a secretive, hidden world.”
Birmingham was also the setting for Woolcock’s previous documentary One Mile Away, about the city’s gangs. It won the Edinburgh Film Festival’s 2012 Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film before airing on C4.
One Mile Away protagonist and former gang-member Dylan Duffus has worked on Going To The Dogs as interviewer and researcher.
Woolcock said: “We have a long tradition of blood sports in this country – we’re apparently a nation of animal lovers, but so many things we do totally contradict that.
“People express horror when they hear I’m making a fi lm about dog-fighting, which is partly a class thing. Dog-fighting is associated with poor people and the ghetto, which in their eyes makes it worse than hare-coursing or hunting.”
She stressed that she was against dog-fighting, but added: “The reality is that many more horses die from horse-racing every year than dogs from dog-fighting.
My perception of the pit-bull terrier has completely changed through doing this film. I think it’s a much-maligned animal.”
No animal rights groups are interviewed in the film but Woolcock said that point of view was clearly represented.