Rose Tucker brings a unique kind of storytelling to the screen with the global release of her documentary We Don’t Deserve Dogs.
Flinders graduate Rose Tucker (BSc ’06, GradDipTourism ’07) is a New York-based film producer with Urtext Films, which she runs with her partner, director Matthew Salleh. Featuring dogs and dog lovers around the world, their latest documentary, We Don’t Deserve Dogs, celebrates the human-canine bond.
The world premiere of We Don’t Deserve Dogs was planned for the major US film festival South by Southwest (SXSW) in March 2020 – but COVID-19 saw this event cancelled.
The film was eventually released later in the year at leading international film festivals including Warsaw Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, Miami Film Festival GEMS, and Brisbane International Film Festival.
POSITIVE GLOBAL RESPONSE
The initial setback hasn’t stopped the incredible response to the film, which is now topping iTunes documentary bestselling charts in Australia, Canada, the US, and the UK.
‘The response has been amazing – it has been viewed in 61 countries and is ranking well in the charts. We were also very excited that several cinema chains across Australia played our film, including Wallis Cinemas in Adelaide,’ says Rose.
A LOVE FOR TRAVEL AND EXPLORING CULTURES
To film We Don’t Deserve Dogs, Rose and Matthew travelled to 11 countries, including Chile, Uganda, Nepal, Finland and Romania, capturing intimate portraits of both common and extraordinary relationships between people and the dogs they love.
A dog birthday party in Lima, Peru; the ‘day of the dogs’ in Nepal (an annual event during which dogs are showered with flowers and treats); and assistance dogs helping children learn to read in Finland, show intimate and personal relationships between dogs and their humans.
‘We like to take simple subjects that people are very familiar with in the western world and examine them in a global context. Everyone in Australia or the US knows what it’s like to have a dog – but maybe they don’t know what that relationship is like in a place like Pakistan, or Peru, or northern Uganda.’
Rose says, ‘I have always loved travelling and learning about other cultures. Being able to explore this through filmmaking and seeing a side of life that we wouldn’t if we were simply travelling as tourists is a privilege.’
FLEXIBILITY IN SCIENCE DEGREE
While the link between filmmaking and her science degree at Flinders is not immediately apparent, Rose says she has always been torn between a love of the arts and science and was pleased to be able to merge the two through her degree.
‘I chose to do a Bachelor of Science at Flinders because it allowed me the most flexibility in my elective units – including being able to study visual arts and history topics that fed my passion for the arts,’ says Rose, who later studied a Graduate Diploma of Tourism at Flinders.
She believes her postgraduate studies in tourism, focusing on event management, helped her gain many skills that are now beneficial to her film career. She says, ‘There are a lot of similarities between organising an event and the logistics of putting together a film shoot.’
TURNING A SIDE HUSTLE INTO A CAREER
While Urtext Films began as a post-university side hustle for both Rose and Matthew, it gradually became more commercial, filming for some of Adelaide’s largest advertising agencies. With this success, the team then turned their focus to where their true passion lies – documentaries.
In 2016 they moved to New York. A year later they released their first feature documentary, Barbecue. Filmed in 12 countries, Barbecue explores the way cooking meat over fire brings people and communities together the world over.
The film premiered at SXSW 2017, where it was picked up by Netflix in a three-year global deal. Barbecue went on to win the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Documentary – fitting for the film to be recognised by the foundation that celebrates America’s diverse food culture.
BRINGING HUMANS TOGETHER
Rose says their films celebrate the things that bring humans together. The pandemic, she notes, does the opposite. She looks forward to a return to normalcy, and more storytelling, soon.
‘Navigating the release of We Don’t Deserve Dogs during this time has been difficult,’ she says, ‘but we are so glad to finally share it with a global audience.’