Sept. 15--FREMONT -- After shooting 150 hours of footage over seven years, filmmaker Amy Do and her first movie, an offbeat documentary called "Rabbit Fever," is getting its day in the sun this weekend.
The Fremont resident's 56-minute film, which profiles competitive rabbit shows and their quirky contestants, is scheduled to make its television premiere at 6 p.m. Sunday on KQED's "Truly CA" program. It will air three other times through Sept. 22 on the San Francisco public TV station.
Do decided to make the movie after attending her first rabbit show, held in Pomona in 2001.
"I was amazed at all the different breeds and I was, like, 'Wow, I didn't know this world even existed,'" she said. "I felt like I'd walked into my very own version of 'Best in Show' (a hit 2000 comedy about dog shows)."
She began shooting video of competitive shows nationwide, from the massive American Rabbit Breeders Association show in Washington D.C. -- in which about 20,000 animals compete -- to a smaller contest at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.
She grew fascinated by the mostly unknown subculture, focusing on five teenage competitors and their intense interest in the animals. "I saw a little of myself in them because I get passionate about all kinds of things, too," she said.
Do had to be passionate about her film in order for it find an audience. Though the movie took years to complete, Do said marketing her work was even more difficult than the production.
"They teach you how to make a movie in film school, but they don't teach you what to do after you make a movie," she said, laughing.
The big-screen version of "Rabbit Fever," which is 83 minutes long, appeared at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis in 2010, and had one-night screenings in San Francisco and San Leandro.
To air on KQED, Do had to trim it by nearly a half-hour. "It's like a whole new film, in a way," she said.
Do, a graduate of Fremont's Kennedy High School, said she started learning about film at Ohlone College, where she took courses in TV production and film studies before graduating from USC's prestigious film program in 2002.
Her next goal is to have PBS broadcast her documentary to a national audience.
She said she is unsure of her next film subject, but when ready to get behind the camera again, she will be armed with a decade of navigating the unpredictable but exhilarating movie business.
"I treat this film as my graduate school, because it's taken up so much of my life," she said. "I've learned so much from it."
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.
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