Holly Dale

Holly Dale (born December 23, 1953) is an independent filmmaker from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[1][2] Over the course of her career, Dale has worked in the Canadian film and television industry as a director, producer, writer, and editor.[3][4] Although she has completed solo projects, the majority of Dale's work has been in collaboration with her former classmate, Janis Cole.[1][4] The Thin Line (1977), P4W: Prison for Women (1981), and Hookers on Davie (1984) are some of their most recognized projects. Dale's work has been featured in festivals around the world including North America, Europe, and Australia.[1] She has also received award nominations and wins, including a Gemini Award in 1982 for the Best Theatrical Documentary for P4W: Prison for Women.[1][3]

Holly Dale
Born (1953-12-23) December 23, 1953
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
OccupationFilm director, television director, film editor, film producer, screenwriter
Years active1976–present

Early life and education

Dale was raised in a low-income household in Toronto, Ontario. However, she decided to leave home as a teenager due to ongoing family conflict. During this time, she worked in non-therapeutic massage parlors in downtown Toronto.[1][3] In the mid-1970s, Dale was accepted into the film studies program at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. Here, she met Janis Cole, who she would continue to work with for the next 20 years.[1][3]

Early career

Often working with a low budget, Dale began her film career as an independent documentary maker. Sharing the responsibilities of writing, directing, producing, and editing with Cole, the two women focused on showcasing social inequalities and hardships experienced by marginalized groups. Their choice to question and challenge class-based oppression and gender norms in their work prompted their reputation as feminist filmmakers.[1]

Short and feature films

As students, Dale and Cole completed their first short film, Cream Soda, in 1976. This documentary revealed the demands on women employed in Toronto-based body-rub parlors. Meanwhile, their next film, Minimum Charge No Cover (1976), explored the lived experience of homosexuals, drag queens, sex workers, and substance users.[1][3]

Their following short, The Thin Line (1977), documented the day to day lives of people who were deemed criminally insane and institutionalized in a maximum-security prison. While shooting this film, Dale and Cole admit they sought to emphasize the prisoners' humanity to provoke a sense of commonality with the audience, as opposed to solely focusing on their misconduct.[1]

The content from this film motivated Dale and Cole's first feature documentary, P4W: Prison for Women (1981).[3] After four years of communicating with officials, Dale and Cole were granted permission to film inside an all-woman prison outside of Kingston, Ontario, Canada. This marked the beginning of the documentary P4W: Prison for Women (1981). As co-directors and co-producers, Dale and Cole focused on the relationships between inmates as well as the prisoners' willingness to live despite ongoing challenges.[1] This film was well received by critics and the public alike, winning several awards at film festivals and a Genie Award in 1982.[3][4]

Later career

Later in their careers, Dale and Cole decided to develop and operate the Toronto-based independent production company called Spectrum Films.[5]

In addition to her career in film, Dale has directed and produced episodes of different Canadian television series, including Bliss, Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye, Just Cause, Twice in a Lifetime, Durham County, Cold Case, and Being Erica.[3] She has also directed two episodes of NCIS: Season 11's "Alibi" and Season 12's "Status Update".[6]



Year Film Title Additional Roles
1975 Cream Soda co-producer, co-editor
1976 Minimum Charge No Cover co-producer, co-editor
1977 Nowhere to Run co-producer, co-editor
The Thin Line co-producer, co-editor
1981 P4W: Prison for Women
1984 Hookers on Davie
1985 Quiet on Set
1988 Calling the Shots
1989 Dead Meat
1994 Historica Minutes: Agnes Macphail
1995 Blood and Donuts
1999 Amazon
2006 Absolution
2007 Hush Little Baby
Year Television Series Title Episode Title
1994 Side Effects In Sickness and in Health
1996 Traders Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth
1997 Exhibit A: Secrets of Forensic Science The Accident
Bone of Contention
1999 First Wave Blind Witness
The Heist
Night Falls
Twice in a Lifetime O'er the Ramparts We Watched
Second Service
2000 The City Motivation
First Wave The Believers
Raven Nation
Twice in a Lifetime Birds of Paradise
For Love and Money
The Sins of our Fathers
The Escape Artist
Grandma's Shoes
2001 A Nero Wolfe Mystery Door to Death
Christmas Party
Tracker Tracker ("pilot")
2002 Bliss Valentine's Day in Jail
Just Cause Above the Law
Tracker Double Down
A Made Guy
Jeremiah Thieves' Honor
2003 Bliss Nina's Muse
Cat got your Tongue
Just Cause Buried Past
Lies, Speculation & Deception
Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye Diplomatic Immunity
He Said She Said
The Sniper
2004 The Collector The Rapper
The Photographer
The Actuary
The Medium
Doc Blindsided
Stargate Atlantis Home
Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye To Grandmother's House we Go
Rocket Man
Adventures in Babysitting
2005 1-800-Missing Last Night
Have you Seen this Man?
The Collector The Comic
The Mother
Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye Fraternity
Boy Meets World
Troy Story
2006 1-800-Missing Double Take
So Shall ye Reap
Angela's Eyes Blue-Eyed Blues
The Collector The Chef
The V.J.
The Junkie
Kyle XY The Lies that Bind
Wildfire Taking Off
Who are you
2007 Blood Ties Stone Cold
Cold Case The Good-Bye Room
Running Around
Thick as Thieves
Boy Crazy
The Dead Zone Drift
Durham County What Lies Beneath
The Lady of the Lake
Divide and Conquer
Guys and Dolls
2008 Cold Case The Road
Roller Girl
Breaking News
Flashpoint Who's George?
Attention Shoppers
Heroes Chapter Eleven 'The Eclipse - Part 2'
Life Crushed
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Self Made Man
2009 Being Erica Dr. Tom
Erica, The Vampire Slayer
2010 Being Erica The Rabbit Hole
Two Wrongs
2011 Castle Head Case
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit Delinquent
2012 Dexter Chemistry
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit Child's Welfare
2013 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The Bridge
Castle Significant Others
Get a Clue
Dexter Are we There Yet
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit Betrayal's Climax
Mistresses Ultimatum
NCIS Alibi
Reign Kissed
2014 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A Hen in the Wolf House
Castle The Greater Good
Chicago Fire Keep your Mouth Shut
Santa Bites
Extant Wish you were Here
Reign Royal Blood
Under the Dome Revelation
2015 Blue Bloods In the Box
Chicago Fire 2112
Chicago P.D. Disco Bob
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit Granting immunity
Mistresses Threesomes
Love is an Open Door
NCIS Status Update
Reign Three Queens, Two Tigers
Extreme Measures
The Whispers Whatever it Takes
2016 Chicago Med Guilty
Chicago P.D. Now I'm God
The Family Fun Ways to tell your Boyfriend You're Pregnant
Game of Silence Into the Black
Limitless Hi, my Name is Rebecca Harris
Quantico Right
Timeless Stranded
2017 Bull Teacher's Pet
Chicago Fire Babies and Fools
Chicago Med Deliver Us
Chicago P.D. Favor, Affection, Malice or Ill-Will
Law and Order: True Crime Episode 3
Episode 4
Mary Kills People Bloody Mary
The River Styx
Wave the White Flag
Raised by Wolves
The Judas Cradle
Morning Glory
Reign All it Cost Her
S.W.A.T. Miracle
Taken I Surrender
2018 God Friended Me Matthew 621
SEAL Team Takedown
Take Two Smoking Gun
Death Becomes Him
One to the Heart
Timeless The Kennedy Curse
The X-Files Familiar
2019 SEAL Team What Appears To Be
Dirt, Dirt Gucci
The Code Molly Marine
Blood & Treasure The Lunchbox of Destiny
The Shadow of Project Athena
Batwoman Who Are You?
A Mad Tea-Party


  • Thin Line (co-produced with Janis Cole) (1977)
  • Starship Invasions (1977; assistant producer)
  • Plague (1978)
  • P4W: Prison for Women (co-produced with Janis Cole) (1981)
  • Hookers on Davie (co-produced with Janis Cole) (1984)
  • Calling the Shots (co-produced with Janis Cole) (1988)

Awards and nominations

Year Name of the Award Awarding Institution Name of Film or Television Series Status
1982 Gemini Award: Best Theatrical Documentary Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television P4W: Prison for Women Won
1982 the Red Ribbon The American Film Festival P4W: Prison for Women Won
1982 Grand Prize: the Best Human Condition York Film and Video Festival P4W: Prison for Women Won
1982 Grand Prize: the Best Cinematography York Film and Video Festival P4W: Prison for Women Won
1984 Theatrical Producers Achievement Award Canadian Film and Television Association Nominated
1984 Gold Plaque: Best Documentary Chicago International Film Festival Hookers on Davie Won
1985 Genie Award: Best Theatrical Documentary Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television Hookers on Davie Nominated
1988 Lillian Gish Award Los Angeles Women in Film Festival Calling the Shots Won
1989 Gemini Award: Best Feature Length Documentary Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television Calling the Shots Nominated
1994 Toronto Arts Award in Media Won
1998 Gemini Award: Best Direction in a Dramatic Program or Miniseries Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television Dangerous Offender: The Marlene Moore Story Nominated
2002 DGC Craft Award: Outstanding Achievement in Direction Directors Guild of Canada A Nero Wolfe Mystery, "Christmas Party" Nominated
2003 DGC Craft Award: Outstanding Achievement in Direction Directors Guild of Canada Just Cause, "Buried Past" Won
2003 Gemini Award: Best Direction in Dramatic Series Academy of Canadian Film and Television Bliss Nominated
2008 Gemini Award: Best Direction in Dramatic Series Academy of Canadian Film and Television Durham County Won
2009 DGC Craft Award: Outstanding Achievement in Direction Directors Guild of Canada Flashpoint, "Attention Shoppers" Won

See also


  1. Felando, Cynthia (1999). "Cole, Janis and Holly Dale". St. James Women Filmmakers Encyclopedia. Canton, MI: Visible Ink Press. pp. 92–94.
  2. Townsend, Paul (2000). "A Cinematic Map of Ontario A to Z listing of Ontario Actors, Producers and Filmmakers". Take 1. 28: 48 via International Federation of Film Archieves' International Index to Film Periodicals.
  3. Wise, Wyndham (October 24, 2011). "Holly Dale | The Canadian Encyclopedia". www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. Retrieved 2018-09-27.
  4. Armatage, Kay (1991). "A Brief History of Women Filmmakers in Canada". Changing the Focus: The Future for Women in the Canadian Film and Television Industry. Toronto, ON: Toronto Women in Film and Television. p. 138.
  5. "History: Janis Cole & Holly Dale-- Filmmakers". Spectrum Films. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  6. "Holly Dale Biography". Film Reference. Retrieved October 17, 2018.

Further reading

  • Hays, Matthew (2007). "Janis Cole and Holly Dale: Out From the Margins". The View From Here: Conversations with Gay and Lesbian Filmmakers. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Arsenal Pulp Press. pp. 55–65. ISBN 978-0739483961.
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