Film Reel

Doug & Kathleen are a Nova Scotia-based filmmaking team. Our projects often begin with family members and with places where we have traveled. Themes include motion studies (Blue, The 12 Laws of Dance, Walk the Walk), childhood and change (The Little Book of Sleep, Alien Ways), how people interact with nature and changing environments (Speaking of Ponds, Before We Awaken, The Fox on the Hill). We keep our films short and look for humour and strong visual elements.


Blue, 2015. 2:47 min.
Is the world upside down or right side up? Two performers explore the edges of normal in this light-hearted short.

Speaking of Ponds, 2014. 3:20 min.
A portrait of a frog pond and its many uses, in the words of the man who created it.

Before We Awaken, 2012. 2:25 min.
Bird songs at dawn create a magical atmosphere in the spring countryside.

Switch Case, 2012. 5:12 min.
Two girls pursue a mysterious man across the countryside after he switches suitcases with them. The latest in a series of films featuring Jay and Emma, joined by Emma’s friend  Abby.


Murder of Crows, 2011 3:22 min. 
Hundreds of crows gather for the night as dusk falls. I was out shooting storm clouds. To my surprise, crows began to circle in the sky. At first half a dozen, then a hundred, then several hundred. I found myself in a village of crows with a full surround-sound of eerie choral voices. My sister Janet later told me of the Ted Hughes book, Crow, from which I pulled the epigram that ends the film.


The 12 Laws of Dance, 2011 4:33 min.
I called it Camp Kathleen, the summer of 2011. It is easier to look after a ten-year-old grand-daughter when her friends are with her so there were many sleep-overs and the house was frequently full of energetic girls. When a film was proposed, I thought of the dance shows on TV and came up with a formula, the 12 Laws, that the girls could then interpret in their own way, which they did with great enthusiasm and ingenuity. The results were promising after a 1-hour shoot in town with 3 girls, but after we added the fourth girl and the beach location, I knew we had a keeper.


Alien Ways, 2011 5:11 min. 
Originally conceived as a sequel to Walk the Walk, showing the interaction of Jay and his ebullient niece Emma. However, the project took on a life of its own soon after Jay’s arrival in Nova Scotia. He had crossed the country on an exhausting motorcycle journey and burst upon his relatives with many stories to share–a special visitor indeed. For the film, we decided to use a Man Who Fell to Earth approach, giving a SF twist to the story, as Emma discovers “the alien” in the woods and brings him to life, then befriends him by teaching him a few of the ways of human culture. The film is a humorous take on Jay’s adaptation to his own family and to settled life after two months camping on the road, and suggests how important and how fleeting such moments of interaction are.


The Fox on the Hill, 2010  3:15 min.
Our friend Frank Pulsifer, the survivor of a double lung transplant, keeps himself busy by bush-wacking overgrown hay fields in the Mount Denson-Hantsport area of Nova Scotia. Each fall, Frank mows a large field overlooking the Avon River for my sister and mother. A fox who lives in the nearby woods takes advantage of the mown fields to hunt for exposed mice. A symbiotic relationship has developed between fox and tractor, as wild animal and farm machine advance side by side intent on their respective tasks.

Walk the Walk, 2009  2:19 min.
Our first film featuring Jay and his niece Emma. The film captures the charm and simplicity of a game between adult and child, as each copy the other’s movements and find harmony in silly marches, dances and other improvised manoeuvres. This film, set in the magical location of Melville Cove, reflects a time when Kathleen and I lived in “the clubhouse,” a tiny shelter on the edge of the ocean nestled among Kathleen’s childhood friends and fondest memories.

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