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Dog Years (2004)

Courtesy of Omni Productions Ltd

Main image of Dog Years (2004)
8mm, 4 min, colour
DirectorSam Hearn
 Richard Penfold
Production CompanyOmni Productions
ScreenplayRichard Penfold
MusicMark Rigglesford
NarrationRichard Haigh

Cast: Benjamin Batton (Ben); Morgwyn Atkins (owner)

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A dog reflects on the relationship he has with his owner.

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Sam Hearn and Richard Penfold's film is deceptively simple: a series of dreamlike images of a man walking his dog are complemented with an amusing voiceover, as if spoken by the dog. But within its 4 minutes, Dog Years is able to touch on some of the most profound issues surrounding our love of pets.

Shot under the 'The Joy of 8' filmmaking initiative, the filmmakers made the film under certain restrictions: in-camera editing, non-synchronised sound and unseen by them until the opening night. Despite this, Dog Years pulls off something of an aesthetic coup. The film starts with an unrelated sound and image track - the commentary is general and has very little to do with the images we see. So it is a startling moment when the dog starts to comment on the action (his master throwing a stick). The dreamlike abstraction of the images suddenly morph into documentary and, significantly, we are forced to witness the dog starting to drown. The audience is jolted into a fearful moment that taps into our complex compassion for pets - a remarkable achievement given the film's supposed £5 budget.

Penfold and Hearn followed Dog Years with Dog Years 2 - Health (2006) another riff on the Joy of 8 format, but have since moved onto longer productions, including the TCM award winning short Leaving (2008).

Dylan Cave

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Video Clips
Complete Film (3:48)
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