Fonds RBSC-ARC-1704 - Robert Duncan fonds

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Robert Duncan fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the provenance of the fonds.

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20 cm of textual records.
33 photographs : b&w.

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Robert Alexander Bremner Duncan (1947- ) was born in Stirling, Scotland. After attending Stirling High School, Bob Duncan worked as a reporter for the Stirling Journal and the Falkirk Herald before moving to London in 1963 where he worked as a freelance writer. In 1967, Duncan came to Montreal, Canada, to attend the World’s Fair and stayed, becoming a news desk editor for the Montreal Gazette and Ottawa Journal. In 1969, Ducan began writing and producing radio dramas and documentaries for CBC Radio, eventually becoming a writer and producer for CBC Television in 1972. In 1974, Duncan left the CBC for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) where he worked until 1989, specialising in documentary, drama, and IMAX projects. In 1974, Duncan met NFB director and producer Donald Brittain. Together they made a proposal to NFB to produce a documentary on British writer Malcolm Lowry with Brittain acting as director and Duncan serving as “expert, interviewer, location manager, and sound recordist.” The film, Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry, earned Duncan and Brittain Academy Award nominations as co-producers. In 1989, Duncan left the NFB and Montreal and moved to Vancouver, B.C., where he continued to write, produce, and direct television specials for many major Canadian television networks. Duncan established his own production company, Duncan Productions Inc., which operated between 1978 and 2010, and is one of the principals of International Documentary Television Corporation (1984-present), a privately owned Canadian television production company specialising in full length network documentary programming. In addition to the Academy Award nomination for Volcano, Duncan’s films have won or been nominated for many other awards, including a Gold Plaque at the Chicago Film Festival for Margaret Laurence, First Lady of Manawaka (1980), a Writers Guild of Canada Award for V6A 1N6 (1998), and a Leo Award for Beaverbrook: The Various Lives of Max Aitken (2001). Duncan is married to television and film editor Janice Brown and has four children, Keiron, Katrina, Jessica, and Sarah.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records related to Robert Duncan’s role as producer of the National Film Board of Canada’s documentary "Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry" (1976). Principal work on the film spanned from 1974 to 1976.

Textual records in the fonds consist of transcripts of interviews conducted for the documentary and documents related to planning, research, production, and post-production activities for the film. Interview transcripts are arranged by film roll number and chronological order. Film production documents include correspondence, financial documents, forms, memoranda, notes, schedules, permits, promotional materials, ephemera, film proposals, copies of newspaper articles, and other material. Photographs include black and white stills of Lowry and his friends and family used in the film, as well as black and white prints of behind-the-scenes photographs taken during filming. Film production documents are arranged in loose chronological order or based on the creator’s original arrangement. The fonds is arranged into two series: Interview and film transcripts; film production documents.

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Immediate source of acquisition

Material was donated to Rare Books and Special Collections, UBC Library by the creator on April 12, 2013.


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  • English

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Rights to the material were not transferred with the accession. UBC does not hold the copyright.

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