Writing and storytelling have always been passions of England’s Alex Buxton, and as a producer, he gets to do both on a daily basis. Working primarily on documentaries, he finds the best onscreen talent, the ideal place to shoot, and writes the script. Whatever the topic he is exploring, he turns himself into an expert, immersing himself in the story and research he is conducting. No matter what he works on, he is responsible for the editorial content, and his talents as a producer have led him to be in-demand both in his home country and internationally.
“At the heart of every good documentary is a human story, and that’s what I’m interested in. I found at an early stage in my career that not only did I love writing, but I also loved sniffing out and finding stories. I’ve always been interested in telling stories in a visual way, and documentary is the perfect marriage of this interest in finding real stories and scriptwriting,” he said.
Buxton began his career in food programming, but soon found that the human stories behind the food were what drew him, and that was the direction he moved in. Since then, he has worked on several prolific films and television series, including This Is Life with Lisa Ling, My Trans American Road Trip, and Street Genius.
Earlier this year, Buxton once again showed worldwide audiences what he is capable of when he collaborated with Netflix on their original documentary series, Dogs. The six part series celebrates the deep emotional bonds between people and their beloved four-legged best friends. It's co-executive produced by Academy Award Nominee Amy Berg, who also directed two episodes, and features other Academy Award winners and nominees, as well as Emmy Award winners among the roster of directors.
As an animal lover, Buxton was immediately intrigued by the story. He loved the premise, and making thoughtful, beautiful films that are ultimately about the human condition through the lens of human’s unique relationship with dogs exemplifies just why he became a producer in the first place. Therefore, he took on the sixth and final episode of the show and made it something special.
“The sixth episode is a good old-fashioned rescue story. It’s something that everyone can recognize immediately. But more than that, the story that the hole that can be left in a family by the death of a dog is a real one, and how this intersects with our rescue story so that our rescued dog eventually completes the family once more I think is done really well. It’s a story that educates people as well and, without being didactic, I like that the show shows that there are a lot of options out there for adopting a dog in New York, and if you’re looking to get a dog, maybe adoption’s the route you should go down. It’s also a really fun episode, I love that,” he described.
Time was the biggest challenge when it came to shooting the episode. Buxton’s work involved a lot of casting and working out storylines, and of course setting up the actual shoots themselves. They were a very lean crew, and he shot and directed a few of the shoots himself. A lot of decisions were made with time as a factor - working out what they could do when, and trying to be as efficient as possible. He would accept nothing but perfection, and he worked tirelessly each day to achieve it.
“The subject matter was great. It’s hard not to have fun when you’re around dogs all day, and most of our filming was done in New York’s East Village, which is a part of the city I love. The team was also a lot of fun to work with. The project as a whole was very creative and democratic - I never felt stifled at all. There was a really good feeling of, if you have a good idea, go for it,” he said.
Buxton was one of the driving forces of the episode. He was an integral member of the team, and his passion for the story directly translated to its commercial success. It has received critical acclaim from many major publications and reviews, and holds a 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 9.17/10.
“The success is really gratifying. A lot of hard work went into it, and to see it pay off in the way it has done is lovely. I’ve had the good fortune to work on a lot of fantastic projects, and I know some of them should have had more success than they have, so to work on something that was not only excellent but also achieves a corresponding level of success is really nice. And it might sound cheesy, but I like knowing I produced something that gives a lot of pleasure to a lot of people. This kind of success has just whetted my appetite for more,” he concluded.
Check out Dogs on Netflix, but be sure to have some tissues, just in case.