This is yet another cautionary tale of media manipulation.
I’ve talked a lot about how I’m quite disappointed with my TV appearance and what a disaster I think it was. I get a lot of questions about what in specific I was unhappy with, so I’ve decided to make a master list of some points that explain how the mockumentary was manipulated! Let’s begin, shall we?
1. They filmed my portion of the documentary over a five day period, around eight hours each day. There were a lot of informative bits that were cut, including, to my recollection:
- portions of an hour long interview with me where I explain what it is like to be otherkin, and give a definition of otherkin that I feel is correct.
- portions where a tour was given of Kinmunity (then called “Wulf Howl”) was given, and I was interviewed regarding my inspiration for creating an online community
- Jade’s entire story, beyond being my friend.
- A final interview of me at the pier was cut heavily, only mere seconds of a fifteen minute interview made it into the final product.
2. A lot of the documentary was manipulated and/or edited. It wasn’t done so outright, more through clever coaching and framing together. Namely:
- The infamous quote and bark. I was told to bark at the water, and the quote itself and the bark weren’t even filmed in the same day.
- Shopping at the pet store was their idea. I attempted to arrange filming at a wolf preserve (that I visit semi-regularly) of me interacting with wolves. What would be a better visual of therianthropy than that? Apparently, shopping at a pet store.
- I had specifically requested, multiple times in multiple different ways, that my parents not be interviewed. They did so behind my back, assuming, because “it’s better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission”
3. Other people in the documentary did not accurately represent the community, some were not even members of it.
- Caleb and his group were active within the furry fandom, but not the therianthropy nor otherkin community. He loosely used the word therian prior to the documentary, but had no knowledge of nor did he participate in the greater community.
- wicthdragon (Ben) has participated in the community, namely on “The Werelist”, but is hardly a reputable member of it. I do not believe Luna participates in the online community at all.
4. Less than one minute into the montage, relationships and sex lives are discussed… and the “documentary” hasn’t even begun yet.
- Polyamory has nothing to do with being otherkin, and shouldn’t be a focus of a documentary meant to showcase otherkin.
- Ben and Luna’s description of their sex life was unnecessary and unwelcome.
- While the documentary does not directly state so, re-watching it, I feel as they were attempting to imply that Jade and I were a couple. She is a cisgender lesbian, and I had a mate at the time.
5. It mixes in a bunch of furries who have nothing to do with the otherkin community. So there’s that!
- I had stated multiple times pre-filming, during filming, and post-filming that otherkin and furry were entirely different concepts. This was COMPLETELY ignored.
- Visions of furries, not even those interviewed, were constant throughout the documentary when the word “otherkin” was narrated.
6. No respect was given to any of the participants being filmed.
- I was referred to as “Matthew” multiple times by the narrator. I requested, very specifically, that I be referred to only as Shiro, except when mentioning the name change process.
- Furry pornography present in another participant’s home was observed by the camera.
- The people filming would intentionally bring up “hot topics” during family dinners in order to spark a debate.
As much as I want to say that if I had a chance to “undo” the documentary, I probably wouldn’t. The experience was valuable and it did indeed result in me being rid of my legal name, something I had desired since childhood. I would, however, change how I conducted myself during filming. I would not allow myself to get comfortable with anyone, and I would have tried to present myself as respectably as possible.
It has also resulted in opportunities where I am able to clear up misconceptions about the community and act as a stronger ally for it; namely, I have been asked to do panels at conventions and elaborate on my experiences.
Back in September/October I was offered by an over-seas university to participate in a short doc about Otherkind as well, and at first I was all for it. The lady contacting me (who was very nice but I dont even think she was part of the crew… She always referred to the crew and director as separately than her) told me the documentary would be posted online and featured in a film festival. She said the film was called “Otherkin: a misrepresented sub-culture” or something along those lines.
I had spoken with friends about participating in the film and they HIGHLY urged me to not show my face and to use a fake name - which was the plan anyway. Actually they more told me not to do it anyway,… But I thought it was cool! And I was all on board until they sent me a waver that basically said anything they film they own (meaning I wouldnt be allowed to withdraw consent after I signed it, I absolutely had to participate, and I also wasn’t allowed to request my parts being removed) and also that they can edit it however they want. At face value this isnt bad, but then I remembered “I think I’m an animal” and just… Watched the editing.
They also asked me if they could use clips of me that were on my Kinstagram while I was in a mental/full shift (I have full canine gear and posted some short videos of me playing/barking/vocalizing in other ways) I told them yes at the time but later totally withdrew consent after they sent me the waver and told them I did not want to participate. They asked to use those clips just because they’re based in the UK, and I live in Canada.
Part of the reason I didnt want to participate was the waver, and the others were that I never knew the name of the university (they never told me) and I couldn’t find ANY traces of the director on the internet. Her name was on the waver. I searched her full name, full name with ‘director’ added, etc. Nothing. Not even a linkedin. Another reason was post-editing.
I had heard the horror stories of the film crew editing out certain things, requesting weird things, or editing audio to sound like something it originally wasn’t (changing the context)… I didn’t really want to believe that this new film crew had bad intentions, and I knew the waver was just procedure, but it kind of pushed me into reality. I even had my mentor’s attorney look over the waver before I did anything with it. They okayed the waver but did say that post-editing and me not having the ability to withdraw consent would totally fuck me over.
If anyone of my followers is reading this and ever gets an offer to participate in a doc, please think it over.
A lot of these productions are made by no-name directors and producers as part of a small production company that markets their productions to networks directly or to distributors who then market to networks.
The person contacting you was probably a Casting Researcher, hence them talking about the director in third person. Their only job is to find people who are willing to participate, screen them, and then put them in touch with the actual production staff.