Discover how Canadian stunt woman Alison Reid became an award-winning documentary filmmaker

A Note from Hope: May 2020 — I met Alison Reid by accident. Having had the opportunity to view her film, “The Women Who Loves Giraffes,” one winter weekend in Claremont, CA, I had no idea about the power this perfect documentary would have on me.

Sitting in the silent theater, literally stunned as the credits rolled, I knew I had to encourage everyone I knew to see this film that has won multiple Best Film and Audience Awards and had a robust theatrical release in the USA and Canada. Positive reviews from The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Variety and The Wrap contributed to its 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

When I decided the best way to do that was to make Dr. Anne Daag the cover story of Inkandescent Women magazine, I reached out to Alison as we were both 6-weeks in to sheltering-in-place during the Coronavirus pandemic. Via Skype, we had the most wonderful chat as I she sat in her restored barn a couple of hours north of Toronto.

It turns out that Alison most recent film, critically acclaimed feature documentary (Crave, Zeitgeist Films, Kino Lorber) follows her award winning debut feature film, THE BABY FORMULA (E-One, Warner Brothers Digital), which was screened at more than 50 film festivals worldwide and was chosen to be opening night or closing night film at many, including at the Mannheim-Heidleberg International Film Festival. Her television directing credits include HUDSON & REX , GOOD WITCH, SAVING HOPE, HEARTLAND, and MURDOCH MYSTERIES.

The alumna of Women in the Directors Chair program and of the Canadian Film Centre is currently in development on a scripted series based on THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES.

Perhaps most fun of all is that Alison spent the first part of her career as a stunt performer and coordinator. We’ll talk with Alison about that in our video interview, coming soon to Inkandescent.TV. For now, scroll down for Alison’s description

Dr. Dagg and Alison ReidHow The Woman Who Loves Giraffes was born

By Allison Reid

The first time I heard about Anne Innis Dagg her story captivated me, and never let me go.

As I listened to “Wild Journey”, a CBC radio documentary that told the tale of Anne’s pioneering journey to study giraffes in South Africa in 1956, I was riveted by every word. I immediately read Pursuing Giraffe: A 1950’s Adventure (the book Anne wrote about that experience) and knew I had to make a film about it.Most of my experience in film and television has been in the narrative world. So, my mind automatically went to what an amazing drama this would make: Out of Africa, Born Free, ‘Giraffes’ in the Mist, Tracks, etc.

As I was starting to develop that film, Anne was invited to attend a Giraffe Indaba (or conference) in Nairobi. She would be returning to Africa to see giraffes in the wild for the first time in 57 years.To me this was an historic event – one that we couldn’t miss recording. There was no time to raise financing. So, I took a leap of faith, found a small crew willing to go to Africa, and self-financed the trip.

That is how the documentary, The Woman Who Loves Giraffes was born.Anne’s trailblazing field research resulted in many scientific papers and the book The Giraffe: Its Biology, Behaviour and Ecology, (co-written with Bristol Foster in 1976). Referred to today as the the “bible on giraffes” by scientists, conservation biologists and zookeepers worldwide, it is the most influential book on the species ever written.

As I got to know Anne, it became clear that her giraffe endeavours were just the tip of the iceberg in regard to the compelling parts of her story.I realized I could not make a documentary about her without including part of her Canadian story. Anne’s father was the famous economist Harold Innis, and her mother, Mary Quayle was Dean of Women at the University of Toronto.Anne’s dream was to follow in her parents footsteps, and become a university professor.

This would enable her to continue her giraffe research as well as teach. But, that dream was not realized — at least in the way she imagined.Shortly after the publication of The Giraffe: Its Biology, Behaviour and Ecology, our intrepid adventurer hit an unforeseen obstacle and disappeared from the giraffe world. This left the research community asking: What happened to Anne Innis Dagg? Our film is the story of her re-discovery.

Here’s how you can help save Giraffes!

“Not many people realize that there are far fewer wild giraffes than elephants in Africa,” shares Dr. Anne Innis Dagg. In fact, giraffes are listed by the IUCN redlist of endangered species as “vulnerable to extinction,” and several of the nine giraffe subspecies are listed as “critically endangered.” 

Anne’s philosophy is that working with local people and education of the young are crucial to making a difference in giraffe conservation. Monica Bond and Derek Lee who run the Wild Nature Institute feel the same way. They are doing a tremendous amount of work – both in terms of science and education. WNI is actively collecting data and doing research on over 4,000 giraffes in Tanzania.

To help save giraffes, join Dr. Dagg in supporting Wild Nature Institute.Learn more about film: • Pursuing Giraffe Adventures Inc.96 Joseph Duggan Rd, Toronto, On M4L 3Y2 Canada • Directed by Alison Reid • Produced by Joanne Jackson and Alison Reid • Executive Producer, Paul Zimic