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Documentary features Port Dover fisherman

A class project for a Port Dover native has turned into a documentary that’s being screened at festivals around the world.

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Winnifred Murphy, 21, is a fourth-year student in the film and television production program at Sheridan College in Oakville. The idea of telling the story of her father, Patrick Murphy, as a fisherman in Port Dover came to fruition this past year.


After spending eight months working on a production outline of the documentary, entitled More Than Just Water, Murphy pitched her idea to her class of around 100 students. It was chosen as one of the pieces to be produced.

“It’s about how my dad’s heart really does belong on the lake,” said Murphy. “And how our community and our identity is about fishing in so many ways. That has been changing drastically, the fishing industry has been changing and our identity has been changing with it.”

The film has been selected to screen at film festivals in New York, Long Island, Ireland and Rome.

“I’m super excited that it’s going somewhere,” said Murphy. “It’s still really small on our festival circuit with just four, but it is my first time doing this so it’s still super exciting that people want to watch it and listen.

“This small story from Port Dover is being heard. This is definitely a story that is so similar to towns across Canada.”

The production crew included Murphy as writer, co-director and director of photography, and Sheridan classmates working as producers and co-directors. Other members of the crew are Chris Davy, Pepper Radley, Dilan Farrell, Miguel Fernandes, Lauren Neeson, and Scott Morris.

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Murphy had to work to get her father and the cast comfortable with each other and the story.

“He didn’t really realize at first how much of his life I was examining,” said Murphy.

“When I first talked about this documentary months before we shot it he was just like, ‘Oh, cool, you’re writing about me.’ And then we got it and he was like, ‘This was a lot more than I anticipated.”

She said a big issue for the productions was getting permission to film near Lake Erie.

“We were very close to not being able to make our documentary,” said Murphy. “The legalities of filming near water are really intense. It was a lot of paperwork.”

No local screenings of the documentary are currently planned due to COIVD-19 restrictions. There are hopes that the documentary will be screened at the next Routes To Roots Festival in Norfolk County.

Information on upcoming screenings and festivals can be found on the More Than Just Water Facebook page.

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