Winnie Murphy creates documentary featuring her fisherman father
By Donna McMillan
PATRICK Murphy fishes on the boat BB Miller and was at one-time manager at the Port Dover Fish Co. His father, Les Murphy, was also a fisherman and manager of the Port Dover Fish Co.
Patrick, father of Winnie Murphy, 21, and Les, her late grandfather, are featured in Winnie’s documentary “More Than Just Water” that was a semi-finalist in the Rome Prisma Independent Film Awards.
Above: Patrick Murphy, at left, during production of the short film in Port Dover by his daughter Winnie.
“The title speaks volumes,” Winnie told the Maple Leaf. Port Dover is more than just a beach town. There are people behind every story, she shared as she reflected on Port Dover’s history of boasting the largest freshwater fishing fleet in the world at one time.
And now, there are many fewer boats fishing commercially out of Port Dover, she said. The work is not easy. Patrick has been involved in fishing his entire life.
“Following in the steps of his father, Patrick intended to continue his familial and local tradition,” the film shares. “But now, being the last fisherman in his family combined with the decline of the fishing industry, Patrick struggles to hold onto the life he once knew.” His story is the film’s story.
Winnie was born and raised in Port Dover, attending Doverwood, Port Dover Composite School and Holy Trinity. She is currently a third-year student in Sheridan’s four-year Honours Bachelor of Film and Television Program.
Winnie said she has always had an interest in the arts. Her earliest “artsy” memory was going to the Lighthouse Theatre when she was 4, 5 and 6. “Grandma (Rosemary) Murphy worked at the concession at LFT,” she said. She would sit in on bits of the plays.
“I was so small, the seat would close up on me,” she said. “It was so enchanting to watch actors on stage and then come out and thank people. It was a star struck moment.”
Winnie loved the arts and crafts in Girl Guides. She did some drama and theatre in school and at LFT. At Holy Trinity, she shared, she took Communications Technology with teacher Joseph Varga where she discovered she liked the creative, behind the scenes roles when she made a film called “Conundrum.” It received an Honourable Mention at the Brantford Film Festival.
At left: Winnie Murphy
Growing up in Port Dover, Winnie said it truly is a case of being raised by a caring village.
“This is my village. This is my people. If I’m in trouble, I know I can knock on a door.” She was raised by her grandparents, her Mom Sheri McColl and her Dad Patrick Murphy.
While filming “More Than Just Water,” Winnie said her grandparents Lew and Jane McColl housed her and her friends. “I always feel at home here. There is such a sense of family looking after you.”
She wasn’t sure about writing a documentary at first. But then thought “write about what you know.” She has watched Port Dover change over the past twenty years. Her Dad has seen many changes in the fishing industry.
“I’m proud of where I come from. Many don’t understand our true identity,” she said.
Patrick fishes for smelt on a gill netting boat. “It’s been a hard year. Not a lot of fish. It’s hard to watch Dad come home from a long day, working hard, and make no money.”
A pitch in front of a cohort of 100 students and professors was made for “More Than Just Water” and it was one of twelve selected.
Film locations included the Port Dover Harbour Museum, Port Dover Legion, the pier, the docks and in front of the old Port Dover Fish Co.
Those working on the short film included Co-directors Winnifred Murphy and Chris Davy; Director of Photography Winnifred Murphy; Co-producers Scott Morris and Pepper Dun-Dufault; Lauren Neeson; Miguel Fernandez; Dilan Ferrell. Mark Kungel composed and recorded the music.