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B.C. filmmaker reveals story behind iconic local band

By Jim Gordon and Leeta Liepins

Published 12:14 PST, Fri February 3, 2023

Last Updated: 12:21 PST, Fri February 3, 2023

The Our City Tonight team sat down with local filmmaker Teresa Alfeld to talk about her new documentary, Doug and the Slugs and Me, featuring the iconic Vancouver music group.

Our City Tonight (OCT): It was really nice to see a film made about this band, because it reminded us of how many hits they had and how influential they (were). What is additionally great about this documentary is the tie-in with you, the filmmaker, and growing up next-door to Doug Bennett of Doug and the Slugs. How did this all come together, and how did you find yourself part of the story?

Teresa Alfeld (TA): I certainly didn’t set out to make a film that I would be a character in. A few years ago, I did my first documentary called The Rankin Files with my producer John Bolton. It is about a 1980s-era politician. We were looking for music that really captured Vancouver in the ‘80s that was high-energy and fun—naturally I thought of Doug and the Slugs. When we premiered the film, we had such a positive response from people who loved hearing the music. Great feedback not only about the film, but also the use of Doug and the Slugs. People obviously still love these guys, and nobody’s ever told their story. Luckily, I had a connection with the band and I also have a connection to the family. We set out to just do a fun film about Doug and the Slugs, but it ended up taking some turns.

OCT: They were so successful, so quickly, and some of the scenarios are fairly cliché—although that’s not to diminish what they did. There was the infighting, one guy getting more credit than the rest of the band, and when you get into the late ‘80s they were not even talking anymore. What you did in this movie that was so incredible was you got access to Doug’s personal journals. That must have been wonderful to feel the trust between you and Doug‘s widow, having grown up as neighbours.

TA: Once we set out to make the film, I reconnected with Nancy Hare, Doug’s widow, and she gave me access to the archive. That had all the photos, the music videos, the broadcast specials, and after a while, she handed me another box. It contained 39 personal diaries belonging to Doug that he started writing when the band was getting off the ground in 1980 and concluded in 1989. I’m pretty confident that Nancy would not have given those to me had she not had a personal relationship with me dating back almost 30 years at that point. It was an enormous responsibility, and I’m the only person who has read all those journals more than once. I had to make strong decisions as to what Doug would have wanted out there and what I don’t think he would have wanted. We made decisions, often in collaboration with the family, about what we needed to use to (best represent) Doug’s voice in the film.

Doug and the Slugs and Me is available for viewing on CBC Gem.

Jim Gordon and Leeta Liepins are contributing writers to the Richmond Sentinel. 

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