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All in the family

Mother-daughter filmmakers Gail Harvey and Katie Boland nominated for directing awards at WFF
LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTER Actress, writer and producer Katie Boland, right, followed in her mother Gail Harvey's footsteps when she decided to jump in the director's chair. Both have been nominated by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists for a directing award that will be handed out at this year's Whistler Film Festival. Photo submitted

Like a lot of parents working in show business, Gail Harvey wanted her daughter, Katie Boland, to steer clear of the industry.

But, then, it's hard to ignore talent.

"From the time Katie was a little girl she'd come to sets with me. Even when she was three, she'd come home and she'd say, 'I can do that, mummy,'" recalled Harvey, award-winning director and photojournalist. "Now, at first, you don't want your kid to be an actor when you're in show business, but she was just so good."

Now, years later, Harvey and her multi-hyphenate daughter have both been nominated for a directing award by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists for their respective films, Never Saw It Coming and Lolz-ita, screening at the Whistler Film Festival (WFF).

"My mom has been such a champion, a mentor, and also my best friend for my whole life," said the 29-year-old Boland. "Now that we're able to work together so often, and ... share things like this, it's very moving."

Boland is something of a Renaissance woman in the Canadian film world, recognized in equal measures for her writing, producing and acting prowess after having appeared in such productions as Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, CW's Reign, and HBO Canada's Terminal City. But it took a while for her to follow in her mother's footsteps and jump in the director's chair.

"I started directing, really, out of necessity, not necessarily because I felt called to do it, but because I wanted to show funding agencies that I could," Boland said.

And having an experienced director and photographer at home certainly hasn't hurt.

"It's such an opportunity to have a veteran director there, just in your house, to be like, 'How do you shoot this?' 'Do you think this cut is working?' I bounce everything off my mom," Boland said.

But lest you think Boland is the only one benefitting from this personal and professional relationship, Harvey was quick to point out how much she's gained from her daughter's many talents. (This is a recurring theme throughout our conversation, during which both women took every opportunity possible to heap praise on the other. It was kind of adorable.)

"In many ways, I think I've been tagging onto Katie's coattails," she said. "Like when we did the web series, (the critically acclaimed Long Story Short), I would say that it, literally, changed my career ... I asked Katie, 'Why do I want to direct a web series?' And she said, 'Mom, trust me. If you direct this, it'll make you cooler.'"

The story of Harvey's career is one of sheer perseverance. A gifted photographer, she was just the third female photojournalist ever hired by United Press International in the late '70s. She would go on to direct a number of award-winning Canadian TV shows, including Dark Matter, The Republic of Doyle and Murdoch Mysteries, as well as a pair of films for the Lifetime Network.

A mentor to aspiring female filmmakers, Harvey is often asked how she made it as far as she has in an industry where she is still often the only female director on a TV series.

"Quite honestly, I look back and realize I really don't know how I did it. I guess I was tenacious," she reflected.

"I think that when you're a woman director, you have to strive to be better, more prepared, more organized than anybody else, because there's no room for error."

Although both have had differing experiences in the all-too-often male-centric world of show business, they both acknowledged that important progress is being made towards equal representation — although there's still a long way to go.

"I'm in a much easier position than my mom was when she started directing," remarked Boland. "There are initiatives for gender parity in Canada. I think we need more, and not enough is being done, but at least those programs exist."

Never Saw It Coming, Harvey's crime thriller about "a crooked psychic" played by Emily Hampshire, plays the WFF on Dec. 1 and 2 at Village 8. Boland's short film, Lolz-ita, which she directed, wrote and stars in, is about a naïve yet internet savvy 22-year-old reckoning with her small-town Canadian existence and her provocative Instagram fame. It screens at the Maury Young Arts Centre on Dec. 1.

To check out the the full lineup of films, visit