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Filmmakers Release Documentary about 'Man's Best Friend'

Nathan Hendrie and Chad Montrie
Nathan Hendrie and Chad Montrie of Tower Hill Films at 60 Island St., Lawrence produced the documentary, "Tough Love," a meditation on dominance and dogs.

By Yadira Betances

LAWRENCE – Chad Montrie and Nathan Hendrie explore the saying “Dogs are men’s best friend” as a paradox in the documentary “Tough Love” where owners dominate their pets through restraints and food rewards.

The film looks at the theory of “Alpha Wolf” adapting it to dogs with insight provided by scientists, historians, professional dog trainers, humane society staff members and dog owners. The documentary also features still images and video clips of dogs working, playing, walking in the park with their owners. 

The documentary was produced by Anchorhold Films and Tower Hill Films, the production company at 60 Island St. The company’s logo is a painting of the Water Tower on Tower Hill which Montrie can see from his window. 

The Alpha dog concept was adopted from the 1940s where studies on wolves showed pack structure and its hierarchy, which is often seen in aggressive behavior. 

Montrie came up with the original story of “Tough Love” and has been working on the film for two years. He and Hendrie met at the beginning of the summer to finalize the project. Montrie was director, cinematographer and co-editor while Hendrie co-edited the documentary. 

“I thought it would be a great project to do because I wanted to discover why owners felt this way,” Hendrie said. “It’s a social problem I could clarify and people can discuss.” 

Hendrie, an independent producer and editor, is founder of Tower Hill Films, a production company specializing in video for the web. 

He has more than 20 years experience in documentary films having worked for PBS, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, ABC News production and A&E. 

His work includes editing programs for “NOVA,” “NOVA scienceNOW,” “This Old House,” and has co-produced and edited two “NOVA” episodes, and shot and edited “Cruel Courage,” a film about the civilian response to civil war in Colombia, and “The Path,” a walking cinema tour of Lawrence about the collapse of the Pemberton Mill. 

Hendrie has a bachelor’s degree in English from Tufts University. Since 2005, he has worked as a freelance editor, working on documentaries including the Asian tsunami, Isaac Newton, and films on stem cell, Alzheimer’s and concussion research. In 2008 Hendrie edited “Five Years on Mars” for the National Geographic Channel, which won the 2008 News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Science, Technology and Nature Programming. Hendrie, his partner Tamar Kotelchuck and their daughter Julia live in Lawrence. 

Montrie is a history professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he teaches American social history, environmental history, the history of documentary film, and documentary filmmaking. He is also a published author whose books include “A People’s History of Environmentalism in the United States.” 

His cinematographic work also includes, “More Than a Number,” a video and photography exhibit about Cambodian genocide.

Montrie has a doctorate and a master’s degree in history from Ohio State University. He graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in history from University of Louisville. 

Born in Kentucky, he moved to Massachusetts in 2002 to teach at UMass-Lowell. Before that, Montrie was an instructor in the history department at Ohio State University.