Goh Iromoto’s short film reaffirms our natural love of a dog’s purpose
By Jon Nelson
Yesterday, a video was released that, even as it so wholly captures winter, immensely warmed our dog-loving spirits.
Shot in Northern Ontario, the short film centers on a man who has made dog sledding his living and caring for animals his life’s purpose. Burton Penner, the film’s main (human) subject, is the quintessential Canadian wilderness dweller. Even though we’re exposed to only seconds of his character on film, it’s hard not to fall deeply in love with the authenticity of his disposition.
The filmmaker, Goh Iromoto, has a deep-rooted appreciation for the natural world. One assumes that it might only have been this truth that earned him the privilege of gaining such intimate access to Penner’s life.
We spoke with Goh a bit about his career as a filmmaker and the process of capturing such a beautiful tribute to a dog’s place on earth…
A bit about you:
I’m a commercial director / filmmaker and photographer from Toronto, Ontario. I cover mostly outdoor, travel, wildlife, and the human story. These areas pretty much cover my own personal interests…so in essence, I feel really lucky to be able to have a lifestyle and career that allow me to be able to focus on my passions.
What made you want to make a short on dog sledding?
I was introduced to dog sledding on a photo shoot for Ontario Tourism a number of years ago. Ever since, I was quite amazed at the idea of travel simply by the force and pull of dogs.
I owned a black lab myself for over 13 years. I’ll never forget the pull that my one dog had… so to have 8 or more dogs pulling at the same time was quite the sensation. This combined with gorgeous winter landscapes that seem almost surreal and completely untouched was something that I wanted to capture and portray to others. There really is something about gliding through untouched frozen lakes or flying through winter forests with snow covered boughs…hearing nothing but the silence of the cold northern wind and the breathing and barking of dogs.
How did you meet Burton Penner?
I was assigned to Burton Penner’s dog sledding outfit a few years back for another photo assignment. I connected with him and his lifestyle instantly. Perhaps because he’s also an avid and well-known painter, or perhaps, there was something about his personality or view on things that I could relate to. Or maybe it was also the romance of the wild north that he so much exuded in his personality, his living environment, and his relationship to nature. We only met for a day on that first shoot, but Burton was very gracious in having me back up the following winter to have a story about his life and his dogs captured through moving pictures & sound.
How many shoot days did you have?
We actually filmed for only two days, but it took us a full day on each end to get there from Toronto, so the whole trip was about 4 days. We spent the whole first day getting out to one of his trappers cabins out on the trails.
Was there anything you couldn’t include in the film that you’ll continue to hold close to your memory?
I do wish I was able to include elements from this one night with him. But I suppose I can always tell the story of how he had us help feed the 16 or more dogs we had with us. He cooked a stew over the wood-burning stove and I remember him filling it with a mix of things including frozen beaver meat that he had caught earlier in the year (it’s apparently great for the dogs’ energy and fur). I remember the dogs getting really excited at mealtime. Afterwards, we went around laying handfuls of hay on the snow for them to lie on. As we all fell asleep, you could occasionally here the bark or howl of the dogs in the silent wintery night.
Watch more of Goh Iromoto’s incredible films here.
Learn more about dog sledding and look into booking an adventure with Burton Penner here.