After visiting a home she had seen in a movie, Flynn stumbled across a dog in a cage. She quickly asked a child nearby why the animal had no food and why it was locked away on a hot summer day.
“The dog never leaves the cage,” the child said.
Soon after, Flynn made a decision.
Rescuing anywhere from 35-50 dogs from puppy mills a weekend, Flynn has saved over 2,000 dogs since her crusade began over four years ago. She is also the subject of a documentary, “Madonna of the Mills,” which will be screened at the Artivist Film Festival at the Tribeca Theater in New York City on Dec. 9.
“Before this, she was lost in life. She was a college dropout, had marriage problems,” said Andrew Nibley, the film’s writer and director. “This story is about her passion.”
Nibley however, is no slouch in the passion department either.
After his wife and eventual executive producer of the documentary, Kelly Colbert, brought home a cocker spaniel from one of Flynn’s rescue runs, she demanded he take action.
“She told me to make a movie about this,” Nibley, who before that never made a film in his life.
Soon after, a promise was made. Nibley would do whatever he could to change things for these animals and bring this story to light. An Internet CEO at the time, Nibley put his life on hold for a year and a half to finish the project. He also used $35,000 of his own cash to fund the project, what he calls, “a labor of love.”
“Our dog was debarked,” he said. “The people at the puppy mill shoved a pipe down her throat and hit it with a hammer so she couldn’t make any noise. She was only supposed to live a few months after we got her, but that was three and a half years ago. Having her is like taking care of a special needs child. But she is an amazing creature.”
Using his resources from his time in the music industry, a field he was involved in before working in the Internet, Nibley was surprised how much support the project got. Getting recording artists the likes of rock veteran Dave Mason and Moby for the film’s soundtrack and a host of contributors to help shoot and edit the project, Nibley admittedly wasn’t as far over his head as he originally thought he’d be.
“If I was not so in love with my wife, I would have said no,” Nibley joked. “She has this instinct about doing the right thing. Animals are her passion. I was a CEO, but she told me I could make a movie. She appealed to my ego. Luckily, we got some great help from some fantastic people on this project.”
Using digital media tools such as Facebook, the film was able to sell-out its premiere appearance at the Artivist Festival on Dec. 9, but a second showing, the first in the history of the festival, was added on Dec. 10.
After the festival, Nibley plans to distribute the film on DVD with 20 percent of the proceeds going to the American Humane Society.
So in spite of never making a movie before in his life, fueled by his wife’s love and Flynn’s amazing story, Nibley kept his promise.
“This film is proof that ordinary people can do extra ordinary things,” he said.