Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent

“do we have a dangerous dog breed problem, or dangerous laws targeting dogs?”

Project Overview

Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent” is a documentary film examining laws called breed specific legislation (BSL), which ban or restrict the ownership of certain breeds or types of dogs – namely pit bull terriers. 

During the mid-1980s, pit bull dogs became the target of legislation sweeping across the United States in the name of public safety after attacks became leading headlines in the national mainstream news media.

Using the state of Ohio as the backdrop, the film takes place in a suburb of Cleveland in the spring of 2008 after Lakewood City Council proposes a ban on pit bull dogs. GTPI guides the viewer through the entire process of proposal and passage of the law, the enforcement, and its subsequent repeal a decade later.

"Guilty Til Proven Innocent" | 2020 Official Trailer

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A Film With A Purpose

What started as a documentary exploring dogfighting in the immediate aftermath of the 2007 Michael Vick case, turned into a five year examination of the effectiveness of breed specific legislation, and the subsequent pursuit for its end.

The Original "Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent" Movie Poster
The Original "Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent" Movie Poster
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2013 “Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent” Official Trailer

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2011 “Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent” Promo Video

"Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent"

Release Date:
April 28, 2013 | Capitol Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio

Re-Release Date:
April 28, 2019 |  Cuyahoga County Public Library in Parma, Ohio

a River Fire Films and Enigma Digital Media production

Directed by:
Jeff Theman

Produced by:
Jeff Theman & Bryan Porter

Edited by:
Bryan Porter

Jeff Theman
Bryan Porter
Rob Reiland

Aerial Footage by:
Aerial Agents

Drone Pilot:
Thomas Wasinski

Sound Editor:
Bryan Porter

Assistant Editor:
Jeff Theman

Original Music by:
Daniel Botello
Allison Piccioni
Alex Hitchens
Joseph Lynn Duckett

“Paramnesia” by Ceterum
“Solar Traveler” by Emmett Cooke
“Save The World” by Emmett Cooke
“To Dream Of Better Days” by Emmett Cooke
“Spiritual Walk” by Emmett Cooke
“Soulful Reflection” by Emmett Cooke
“A New Adventure Awaits” by Emmett Cooke
“Steal My Heart” by Tim Raymond

Research by:
Jeff Theman

Artwork by:
Jeff Lutch
Bryan Porter

Interviewed (in the order they appear):
Leonard Shelton
Ken McCort
Bob Hickey
Jonathon Bozak
Jean Donaldson
Rebecca Huss
Dan Haude
Kristi Haude
Dr. Ellen Casper
Jason Brown
Jeannine Zabriskie
Neal Zimmers
Don Cleary
Jean Keating
Ben Konop
JC Reindl
Barbara Sears
Ledy VanKavage
Julia Szabo
Brian Powers
Maria Johnston
Victoria Zeiger
Shana Klein
David Theman
Jeff Theman
Shelley Theman
Dawn Stretar
Janine Chmielewski
Mike Kehl
Dr. Bob Kaplan
Ed Dickson
Matt Zone
Jennifer Scott
Greg Murray
Meghan George
Dan O’Malley

Archive Footage:
Cleveland Plain Dealer
WKYC Cleveland
WEWS Cleveland
Fox 8 Cleveland
WOIO Cleveland
The Morning Journal
Lakewood Observer
Lakewood Sun Post
City of Lakewood
Columbus Dispatch
Toledo Blade
Dayton Daily News
WUPW Toledo
WTOL Toledo
The Ohio Channel
Billings Gazette
Seatle PI
KOMO Seattle
The News Tribune
KIRO Seattle
The Spokesman Review
The Seattle Times
Fox News
Ohio News Network
WLWT Cincinnati
WPVI Philadelphia
Sports Illustrated
KXAN Austin
WFMJ Youngstown
WTVG Toledo
KUSA Denver