“Fursonas” is a documentary premiering at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City on Jan. 22. It’s a first time effort for director Dominic Rodriguez that focuses on the world of furries, people who like to dress up like animals.
“I think that part of what the journey of the movie was the struggle and making a good solid definition because there are so many people in it," said Rodriguez.
“I had called myself a furry but I never really understood it until I was about 17 years old. I went to work as a mascot for a Single A baseball team, surprisingly as a raccoon. And the first time I got in that suit and that mascot was just completely surreal. I mean, I could be as energetic, as happy, as crazy as I could be and people loved it." - Diezel
"Since it’s different to everyone that is in that community," Rodriguez said., "it’s hard to say something that is all inclusive.”
Rodriguez who is a furry himself, said he wanted to shed some light on the furry community. However, because of the negative media coverage in past years, it’s difficult to do.
“There’s a lot of fear in the furry community about it being misrepresented," he said.
You can see furries all around at amusement parks, mascots at football games, and sometimes even on Main Street promoting a company or event. For some furries, it’s a profession, while for others, it’s a lifestyle.
“So many of us are into creating art and street performance basically with our fur suits.”said Cameron Liddiard, a furry who lives in Utah.
“A lot of furry conventions have dance competitions because there is a big dance art community in the fandom. It’s different than any other fandom because like here, no one cares who wins, everyone supports everyone, and like it’s just a big family.” – Skye
Throughout the documentary the audience is exposed to conflicts within the community. Everything from how to be a furry, to politics within their society.
Uncle Kage is a researcher by profession and is also a chairman of Anthrocon, a furry convention. He wears a lab coat at his speaking engagements opposed to his furry costume.
“I’ve got a professional reputation that I have to maintain.” - Uncle Kage
Another fursona is Boomer. He’s the antithesis of Uncle Kage who made his own costume out of clothes and shredded paper. He sweeps parts of his hair on top of his head making puppy ears.
“I love furries so much I want to see all kinds of people have it and enjoy it if they’d like to. And I’d like them to see all sides of furry, you know good and bad, whatever it is. I don’t think there’s much bad to it. People try to discover themselves in different ways.” - Boomer
“I didn’t want to just turn it into, like this tight, neat, little story. I wanted to get to know the people so we spent years,” Rodriguez said. “Like when I first met Boomer, I was shocked by his lifestyle but then the more I got to know him the more insight he shared with me and I sort of realized what a good handle on all of this he has.”
Rodriguez realized throughout the making of the documentary that something complex can still be positive.
“It doesn’t necessarily need to be like a PR piece to still have an overall positive effect,” he said. “I think if furries are portrayed as humans, you know as like flawed human ... that isn't necessarily a negative thing.”
And when all is said and done, as Rodriguez said, he hopes people walk away with a better understanding of who they are.
“It seems so strange at first,” Rodriguez said. “I hope at the end of it it’s not about furry anymore for the audience and they've just gotten to know these people. But see them as people and I think that is so important to me.”