We are thrilled to announce that “Stray Dog” has won the award for Best Documentary at the 2014 Los Angeles Film festival!
Director, Debra Granik, whose 2010 “Winter’s Bone” was nominated for four Academy Awards, has rendered a masterful portrait of the life of a veteran living in small-town America, what Variety Magazine calls, “a low-key humanist study of an extraordinary ordinary man.”
Barbara and I had the great honor of working with Debra and editor, Tori Stewart on the sound for this poignant film.
The film takes a stab at the ‘everyday American life’ theme in “Stray Dog.” It captures the world of motorcycle man and U.S. army veteran Ronnie “Stray Dog” Hall as he goes about his life running the “At Ease” RV Park while battling PTSD in southwestern Missouri alongside his Mexican wife, Alicia. The film succeeds because of its honesty.
The story’s focus is narrow and simple: a man, his motorcycle, his family, and his very human problems. During the 105 minute film, Stray Dog tries to help other veterans’ families, ruminates about his two tours in Vietnam, visits the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. with other veterans, deals with the everyday hassle of running an RV park, and helps his wife’s two teenage sons immigrate to the U.S.
These are the everyday happenings in Stray Dog’s life. To maintain the honest reality of the film’s subject matter and it’s simplicity, there is no soundtrack and there are no direct-to-camera interviews in the film. Revving motorcycle engines heard throughout become a kind of score that feels real and true. The music we do hear comes from radios playing, or the film’s characters singing and playing instruments. And so we see and hear Stray Dog, the man, laid bare with only the background sounds in his environment to complement his gruff voice.
At first glance, Stray Dog seems like what some might refer to as the stereotypical redneck. But he is far from stereotypical or perhaps our stereotypes are just wrong. The film avoids politics and shines the spotlight instead on Ron Hall: the Vietnam war vet, the husband, the friend, the human in all his simple glory.
When asked about her goal in filming so many hours of Hall’s life, Debra told Indiewire that she wanted to discover the “ingredients of his life.” Along those lines, The Hollywood Reporter writes that “Stray Dog” goes a long way to break down stereotypes and remind us of the humanity common in the East-coast city-dwelling liberal (Debra lives in New York City) and the right-wing Missouri country dweller. Through the film’s candid shots of Stray Dog, we are forced to give him genuine attention and respect, and we can’t help but really like the guy.