Zeke, BullyBadassTV’s Founder Talks About The American Bully Community’s Pitfalls

Zeke, BullyBadassTV’s Founder Talks About The American Bully Community’s Pitfalls

As soon as I decided to create that new Bully Breeding blog, I wanted to interview a respected figure within the American Bully world. Because the breed and its community are so new, its members may at times go in opposite different directions. We wanted somebody fair, unbiased, and ideally not a breeder, so he/she could explain the situation and where is the American Bully moving towards (e.g. XL Bully).

After doing some research, I managed to find BullyBadassTV, a very informative Youtube Channel focused on The American Bully world. Superbly produced videos, interviews, highlights, about the best breeders, but also very informative chats about this controversial dog breed.

Here I was set on Interviewing whoever was behind this channel because I loved the professionalism emanating from the content that was posted.

Zeke Dickinson is the man behind BullyBadassTV and here is his interview.

Hi Zeke, could you please introduce yourself and what is BullyBadassTV?

Hey Breeding Business, hope you’re well, this is Zeke Dickson from BullyBadassTV. I am a filmmaker by profession, I’ve been working professionally since my days in college, so that’s about 20 years now.

One day I was on a music video shoot and I was talking to the make up artist and we ended up talking about dogs. She then explained to me what was her boyfriend doing and her message was somewhat confusing but did sound very interesting.

I went home that day and did some research only to figure out that the dogs that he was breeding weren’t actual Pitbulls but they were American Bullies. I found out about the community and everything that I saw online got me seriously interested in what this was all about.

After some more research and because as a filmmaker I always wanted to be a documentarian, I thought that the American Bully breed and its community were so great that deserved their own documentary. I went and try to produce a great American Bully documentary. I studied everything I could for two or three months, and decided that instead of doing a documentary I would do a DVD series. So I started off doing BullyBadassTV DVD’s.

To date, I produced 9 DVDs in the BullyBadassTV series, I produced a Nationals DVD for the 2014 Nationals and I produced what I consider to be the only American Bully documentary which is “One Dog, One Line: The Remyline Story”. This one is actually freely available on my YouTube channel.

How has the idea of creating a YouTube Channel about The American Bully originated?

When I was doing my research, the bully community was extremely active online through forums, Facebook groups, myspace pages, and blogs. So for me, the easiest way to interject my content into their conversation was through embedding Youtube videos. I did that for two or three years, just for the sake of putting video content out there and exchanging with the community.

Obviously, my channel started to generate some substantial traffic and YouTube at the time wanted to monetise my content. They asked me to become a Youtube Partner, which is very different to today’s model where anybody can become one just by signing up. Back in the days, it was more meaningful.

For me personally, what it meant is that my videos were going to make a little bit of money. So with that being done, I decide to produce more content for YouTube and focus more on it.

How do you come up with a constant stream of content and new videos?

Two years of doing that, I began to understand what Youtube was about, how social medias worked and for the last two years I have really been focusing on producing content regularly. Although I produced about ten American Bully DVD’s, I haven’t released one in two years. Mainly because my focus is laid on my Youtube channel.

What video equipment, gear and software are you using to create your videos?

The equipment I use varies on what I need for a specific shoot.

I have my DSLR camera that I use primarily, but I also use my iPhone 6, 5, and 4 to make videos and use them to record the audio while I am shooting. I also equipped myself with a GoPro camera, and recently invested in a drone which means I can now shoot and add aerial footage in my videos.

In regards to my post-production, I am Final Cut Pro X editor. I had Final Cut Pro 7 for a long time, I also tried Adobe Premiere but I really wanted my workflow to be as efficient and streamlined as possible and I’m really looking at adding a whole lot of steps into the process. For those needs, FCPX has it all: great graphics in the editing software and an ideal media management.

How do you manage your social medias channels and website?

That is something I don’t do a great job at although I am actually in the process of relaunching my website.

To most people, running a website may seem like a rather leisurely process but if you are going to create content, collect content, write articles, etc… that’s a full-time job and that’s more hours than there are in a day for me, especially because I have to small children.

I really don’t know how I am going to make that happen but I am relaunching my website now.

Do you visit each kennel you promote or do the breeders send you the videos and voiceovers for you to put up? If you do visit them, how do you cover your travel costs and accommodation?

In regards to how to I get my content from kennels, I try to get around as much as I can. Typically, I would say that 90% of the kennels or dogs that I have footage of, I filmed myself.

There are occasions where I have people sending me footage or, I sometimes paid someone to shoot clips and send them to me. And I’m all up for that, because I don’t have the time to get everywhere from my location in South California. There are beautiful dogs all over the country and I just don’t have the time and resources to get everywhere. It does cost to fly all over the United States, and I don’t have that kind of money to fund it myself.

Like I said, I am open to have bully breeders or bully fanciers to submit footage to my channel. Just send me an email explaining what the video is, giving me some context and I’ll write you back to let you know when it will be used, if it will.

Since you started being involved with the American Bully community and from your own knowledge, how has bully breeding evolved over the years and where do you see it in perhaps 20 to 50 years?

I love dogs but by no means I came into this as a dog expert, and I am learning a lot every day that I am doing this. With that being said, since I have been doing this, there has been a great evolution of the breed.

One of the things that I find interesting to observe, neither in a positive nor negative way, is the constant evolution and change of the American Bully’s phenotype.

It’s not something that I would encourage because eventually, breeding should be about consistency and respecting and appreciating a breed standard. It is about trying to produce the perfect animal based on that standard.

Dog breeding is not about getting what you get and putting it on the market to call it “the best thing out there.” A lot of breeders in the American Bully community produce horrible dogs, and too many of these horrible dogs are unfortunately the most popular dogs.

In terms of how the look has evolved, they have evolved way too much for my taste. Since I’ve been born, the Rottweiler has not changed as much as the american bully has changed in the last three years.

The American Bully is a developing breed and I understand that, but on some level the community and the registries have got to get a hold of the messaging and make sure that people out here breeding dogs and buying these dogs understand that there is a standard for a reason. Everybody should be breeding to that standard.

You don't really have a blog, and some of your YouTube videos have been seen by hundreds of thousands of people. Is BullyBadassTV your full-time job now or is it a hobby?

I don’t have a blog because I just don’t have time and I treat BullyBadassTV as a part-time job; I still work as a film professional.

While BullyBadassTV earns money, it is not comparable to a full-time job. If I had to compare the time and effort and tools put into my Youtube channel, I doubt I’d reach a minimum wage of around $7 an hour, I’m actually sure I don’t. It is somewhat of a passion, a professional hobby. It is just something that I develop on the side.

For years, I’ve been producing documentaries, commercial and I don’t own any of these products. I sometimes watch videos on Youtube that I shot 20 years ago and I think they are nice and it feels good to recall that special day when I shot these, but I don’t really have any connection with it any more; I got paid once and don’t have anything else to do with it.

Zeke Dikinson After-production
Zeke Dikinson during the post-production stage for a BullyBadassTV video.

So, for me, having a Youtube channel is about loving dogs, loving the content creation and also about owning something, even if it is not much. I am satisfied with creating content that I own and control.

How different is it to market an American Bully kennel name versus a “regular” dog breed kennel name? Bully breeders are a lot more active on social medias, they are more aggressive and ahead of their time compared to regular dog breeders.

Marketing American Bullies is clearly different than marketing any other breed. I call the American Bully the first dog breed of the hip-hop generation.

The people producing these dogs belong to that hip-hop generation: they are young people who are very familiar with social medias such as Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. They understood that you have to be responsive to the market so if you want to market to that community, you’ve got to do it differently.

In the bully community, most breeders and owners are young, urban, black, white, and hispanic, and they probably don’t really pay attention to the culture of traditional dog breeding and dog ownership. This is probably not a great thing but this is something I try to do with my BullyBadassTV channel, I try to inject information.

BullyBadassTV's DVD held by Snoop Dogg
Zeke reminds us that the American Bully is a breed that originated and thrives in today’s hip-hop generation.

It is important for them to assimilate the tradition with good practices. Often, you’ll promote something as tradition and the young generation will not pay attention to it (“yeh, whatever”.) So it has to be done in a way this generation understands because often best practices become tradition because they genuinely are the best practices. Meaning that, this is the best way to do it so people just keep on doing it that way.

A lot of times youngsters look at things and the way they are and believe that they can just break the rules because they know better. Most times, it is simply not the case.

What are the three tips you would give to dog breeders of any dog breed who would like to get started with their own YouTube Channel? Not necessarily to get loads of viewers but to share their dogs' daily life, their thoughts and so on, without spending much obviously.

First things first, I would recommend every dog breeder to start a YouTube channel. Why? We are living in the future so I don’t care who you are, you have to start a youtube channel. Plain and simple.

If a guy wants to buy a dog and he is from Dublin, he can’t come here to see your dog and there is no reason why he should buy your dog sight unseen. You should simply go out to your yard, you should videotape the yard, the puppies, the parents, and then go post that video on Youtube and give that guy the link. He can then look at your dogs, feel comfortable with the environment, the parents, the way the puppies are interacting with you, and eventually make up his mind.

You have to use the tools and platforms available to you to make things better, easier and more convenient for both seller and buyers. YouTube, in particular, is a great tool if you are selling dogs, or anything that people would like to buy after having previewed it. It is a good way to share and showcase what you are selling.

Social medias also grow your customer base. Instead of having 5 people in your neighbourhood interested in your breeding programme, you might have 50 people all over the world following you. To you, 50 people may not be a big audience but it s actually a lot of people. If you only have 6 puppies, you’re going to have 44 people that are going to be disappointed.

In a rather old school scenario, if you have 6 puppies but only have 5 people who want your puppies, you’re going to have to take care of that remaining pup or you will have to give it away which means your pup will most likely end up in a shelter.

So get a Youtube channel, it will allow you to have a bigger audience and you will be able to pick and choose and have more discretion on who you want your puppies to go to. And let’s face it, someone who just wants a pup for christmas and doesn’t care about the breeding quality won’t hang out on YouTube to buy one.

What are the two things bully breeders perhaps do wrong, or could do better, in order to improve the bloodlines, the quality of the breeding, and their image?

The biggest problem with the bully community and the American Bully breeders is that they have too many followers. Too many of these followers are just buying names and chasing brands, as opposed to creating quality dogs through learning and doing the homework to become themselves quality breeders.

To me, a quality dog is nothing without a quality breeder. Every now and then people get lucky and a bad breeder will get a quality dog. But this bad breeder can’t ever reproduce that dog and exploit its full potential because he doesn’t even have the skills and knowledge. He might as well just have bought the dog.

There are not many quality dogs, there is just a lot of hype to the point that some people are spending crazy money on a well-marketed average dogs. In their turn, other breeders will then follow these breeders who barely know what they are doing.

Secondly, too many bully lovers and breeders believe that the quality is proven by the price tag of a given dog. If a dog is priced at $10,000 then it must be an amazing dog. But frankly, that price definitely does not make that puppy a quality dog. In most cases, it means the breeder just hustled somebody for $10,000.

Last question, what are your plans for the future? Do you want to breed dogs or do you feel better simply showcasing other breeders? Let us know what you're working on!

In regards to BullyBadassTV’s immediate future, the objective is to reach over 100,000 subscribers. I want to consistently release 4 videos a week and also produce different types of content with content that is more evergreen and less bully-specific. If you look at the channel’s videos from the last couple of months, you can see the direction that I am taking.

Otherwise, I’ve always been a professional filmmaker and I always had aspiration to make feature films. Technology has changed, Netflix, Youtube and Hulu are all very new venues for content distribution. So at this point, I really focus on understanding that side of the business. I feel like I am a capable filmmaker.

What I really want to do from now on is to take what I learnt with BullyBadassTV and begin to reproduce that expertise and become a content producer on a larger scale, not just for BullyBadassTV. For example, I may have another product that has to do with parenting, another one with aquaponics, and so on.

I invested a lot of money in equipment and editing softwares, I have a small office in my house, so I really want to take it up to a major level!

Zeke, a huge thank you for your time and kindness.

Thank you guys for the opportunity, I appreciate it and I am looking forward to your responses. If you have any questions, you can reach me on my Facebook page, YouTube channel, Instagram, or email.