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Doodle Film: Meet the Man Who Couldn’t Stop Doodling

Doodle Film: Meet the Man Who Couldn’t Stop Doodling

Doodle Film: Meet the Man Who Couldn’t Stop Doodling

Do you sometimes doodle? Do you always doodle in private or do you sometimes doodle during meetings or class? Are you fairly confident when you start doodling that you’ll be able to stop? It all starts with just one little line…

Doodle Film, a surreal 10-minute mockumentary from 1970, unravels, line by line, the story of one’s man strange addiction to doodling.

Visually slick and entertaining, the film investigates the case of David Watt, an everyman who fell hard into aimless scribbling back in second grade.

The film, narrated in the self-serious NFB tone of that era, follows David’s doodling obsession through to its natural end – a man who covers every available surface with doodling… including his wife.

On his website, director Donald Winkler (In Praise of Hands, Poet: Irving Layton Observed) suggests he’s no stranger to the doodle himself.

Winkler joined the NFB in 1967. (Doodle Film is his first film.) At first, he worked for about a year as assistant director and assistant editor on a film by another director.

I had always been a compulsive doodler, and during the long hours I spent in the editing room with the director, who was editing his own film, I began doodling on whatever paper was at hand, and sticking many of my creations up on the wall. In due course this began to get on the director’s nerves. Not only was I cluttering up his creative environment, but there were no blank pieces of paper left on which he might make notes. He insisted that I take them down.

This is when Winkler realized he might have a film. Soon, he conceived of David Watt, a fictional character whose doodling grew into a “counter-cultural anti-establishment activity in microcosm,” a radical act of rebellion “very much in tune with the 1960s.”

Check it out below:

Doodle Film, Donald Winkler, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

The doodle-heavy official poster (1970):


Want more doodle? Watch the ineffable Norman McLaren’s Boogie Doodle.

Add a new comment
  1. Mesmerizing! I enjoyed every minute.

    — Jennifer Brooker,
  2. Superb! Thank you for posting this.

    — Cathy Cleary,
  3. Thanks for brightening my day! A good idea, cleverly executed.

    — James Dalziel,
  4. Cynical, sinister, ironic.

    — Barrie,

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