David's first venture into the world of filmmaking began with filming, script-writing, and producing a 30-minute film on his research on muskoxen in the 1980s. While at the Canadian Museum of Nature, he also worked as a scientific advisor for five television films on arctic wildlife. Since 2005 he has become heavily involved in filmmaking as director, producer, and cameraman.
Searching for the Sikhs of Tod Inlet
This is a documentary film about 40 Sikhs who came to Victoria in 1906 to work at the Tod Inlet cement plant and in the limestone quarry that is now the site of the world-famous Butchart Gardens. Using recent and archival film footage and interviews with descendents of the original workers, the film recovers the lost history of this small immigrant community. The 48-minute film, funded by OMNI TV, was screened at the Spinning Wheel Film Festival in Toronto in 2007 and won an award for emerging filmmakers. The Punjabi version is now complete and both versions will be shown on OMNI TV’s multicultural channels in 2010.
The Arctic Journeys of Dr. R. M. Anderson
Dr. R. M. Anderson spent seven rugged winters and ten challenging summers north of the Arctic Circle in his career as an arctic scientist. This documentary reveals Anderson’s great contributions to arctic science, conservation, and cultural knowledge. With a narration based on quotations from Anderson's extensive and colourful diaries, this film follows his arctic journeys: the Stefansson-Anderson Expedition of 1908-1912, the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913-1916, and the Eastern Arctic Patrol of 1928.
See rare archival film footage, photographs and sound recordings artfully blended with stunning contemporary footage of wildlife. “An exceptionally well researched film.” Funded by the International Polar Year, this film was screened at the IPY Film Festival in Ottawa in 2009.
Canadian Soldier Sikhs: A Little Story in a Big War
At a time when Canadian Sikhs were experiencing severe persecution in their adopted country of Canada, ten Sikh men stepped forward to volunteer to fight for this country in World War I. Canadian Soldier Sikhs follows these soldiers through enlistment, training, transport to Europe, into battle, and, for those who made it, their return home. The search for the families of these men and interviews with their descendents bring stories never before heard to the screen. Film director David Gray and producer Ian Hall took part in the annual visit of high school students from the ‘Lest We Forget Project’ to France and Belgium and captured on film the students at the war graves of the two Canadian Sikhs who died in battle. This film is funded by OMNI TV. A short version was awarded a Creative Media Award at the Sikh Art and Film Festival in Hollywood, California, in 2008.
Behind the Gardens' Wall
The never-told story of immigrant workers from China and India is filmed where they lived in the early 1900s, in the lost community of Tod Inlet, British Columbia. The history of the Sikh and Chinese workers of Tod Inlet and the impact of the harsh immigration restrictions on their lives, is a fascinating part of Canadian history. The families of these Chinese and Sikh workers were actively prevented from joining them by the Canadian Government's ‘Head Tax’ policy directed at the Chinese and the ‘Continuous Journey’ restriction directed at East Indians. This film tells a unique story of a multi-racial community that functioned smoothly at a time when racism was leading to rampant discrimination elsewhere in B.C. Funding is through the federal Community Historical Recognition Program.
The Story of an Illegal Trapping Venture to the Arctic in 1931
This documentary tells the story of Edmonton trapper Napoleon Verville and young Scottish HBC clerk Sandy Austin, who traveled by schooner and dog team to Melville Island in the winter of 1931 to illegally trap white foxes in the Arctic Game Preserve. They crossed the unstable ice between the islands twice, (though many said it couldn’t be done) ran out of food, froze their feet, ate their dogs, and survived only with the help of Inuit trappers. They were arrested when they reached the mainland and were banished from the NWT. Based on the remarkable discovery of Austin’s long-lost manuscript and photographs in Scotland, and extensive archival research, the film traces the lives of the two adventurers. Interviews with the trappers’ families in Canada and Scotland and with Elders in the north who remember their story shows this venture still lives.