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Innovative TV Director-guitarist Kerilie McDowall Celebrated At Win Awards

Innovative TV Director-guitarist Kerilie McDowall Celebrated At Win Awards

Courtesy Dirk Heydemann


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I can't believe how wonderful 2024 has been, it has brought me much joy to be acknowledged by the Women of Influence Awards and the Nanaimo community, and business colleagues from the USA on Alignable. I am very honored and grateful to the Nanaimo community, Blaise Hunter, and the Alignable team and community.
—Kerilie McDowall
Humbled and honored, TV film Director of In the Zone: Rick Kilburn, jazz guitarist Kerilie McDowall was surprised and thrilled to win the Women of Influence WIN Creative Innovator Award, an award sponsored by Canada’s Inland Truck & Equipment. McDowall attended the evening with 100 fellow nominees in 11 categories in her city of Nanaimo, British Columbia in February 2024.

The Women of Influence WIN objectives were extremely special to McDowall. Proceeds went to the Footprints Infertility & Pregnancy Loss Support Initiative Footprints, run by the WIN organizer of the sold-out awards evening, Blaise Hunter, who with Footprints, champions reproductive health awareness and support. This organization provides care packages and offers support to women who have miscarried and are in grief, a much-needed organization for every community.

McDowall who attended the awards evening, was very surprised to win the Creative Innovator award. Like McDowall, many were happy to come out to support such a good cause. Award recipients honored included members from the entire city’s community including those from the business, social services, arts, Indigenous community, the LGBTQ+ community, and trades communities.

Filmmaker/Guitarist Kerilie McDowall

“If you’re a music lover then the short film documentary In the Zone: Rick Kilburn, Vancouver Island Bassist and Producer is a must-watch.” —Film Daily

Kerilie McDowall is a 12x international award-winning jazz TV short filmmaker and a guitarist. As a past TV Director and jazz radio producer/host together, she has won 13 awards, with six from the USA. She mentored as a volunteer in television (2015-22), directing for five to six years, hosting and producing for seven years with the brilliant Shaw Spotlight television team of Cameron McLean, Todd Jones, Jocelyn Matwe, Stas Bobkov and Shaw Spotlight volunteer Doug Tombe.

McDowall is a York University music guitar/composition graduate, a film/guitar/musician/writer coach, and a Polaris Music Prize juror. She is the writer of the In the Zen music and lifestyle blog.

Kerilie McDowall is a freelance and national music writer. She is the owner of Canadian Online Guitar Lessons & Creative Services, and as a past publicist is a recording musician’s self-empowerment Canadian music industry instructor and coach. She enjoys teaching and mentoring students, guitarists, musicians, film directors, businesses, and others from various creative industries.

“Well there may be 8 million guitarists in the world, but Kerilie McDowall is certainly one of the best. Guitar Player magazine calls her playing 'smooth and elegant,' to which I would add, intelligent and original.” said Paul Grant, Host of CBC Hot Air, Vancouver, BC, after a recording session of McDowall's quintet by producer Neil Ritchie on June 12, 1999. McDowall as a Nanaimo resident was a monthly DownBeat music writer contributor (2016-2020). She began at the age of 23 leading as a jazz quintet guitarist and composer from 1989-2000 in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Her music writing can be viewed at DownBeat, All About Jazz, Canadian Musician, Inspired 55+, and other publications. McDowall's Canadian-focused jazz, lifestyle, and arts blog, In the Zen, is well worth a read.

McDowall is still judging as a DownBeat Critics Poll critic. She works with rising stars and JUNO Award and Order of Canada-winning recording artists and aspiring young musicians.

In the Zone: Rick Kilburn

McDowall's film In the Zone: Rick Kilburn reached 13 million views in 2023 and Canada's Kerilie McDowall made the top 50 and ranked in early February 2024 as #42nd in the Alignable contest for #1 Biz Person in North America. Alignable is a business networking site with 8 million North American members.

In past years as a first-time short documentary film director, Kerilie McDowall was surprised to discover that she had won an award for Best Director from the Seoul Short Film Festival in South Korea. She also won the 2021 Best Short Documentary award from the Hong Kong International Short Film Festival for her short film, In the Zone: Rick Kilburn, the festing sparked off with three Hollywood Best Web and New Media Awards.

At first, the short’s star, Rick Kilburn, on IMDB Pro's STARmeter peaked at 11.3+ million views, and McDowall at 8.7 million while screening in Japan and Hong Kong. Later monthly hits peaked at 12.7 million in September 2023.

McDowall released her first short mini-documentary film just before the COVID-19 pandemic on March 17, 2020, at Shaw Spotlight in Nanaimo, BC, Canada with the assistance of Todd Jones, Jocelyn Matwe, and the Shaw Spotlight television team. McDowall was mentored in television directing, hosting, and producing for 7 years by Shaw Spotlight as a volunteer.

In the Zone: Rick Kilburn documents the life and career of multi-JUNO/East/West Coast Award-winning Canadian jazz bassist and producer Rick Kilburn, who has performed with artists ranging from Chilliwack and Mose Allison to Dave Brubeck and Chet Baker. Add in a lengthy list of others. Kilburn as a bassist-composer, spent over a decade in New York learning the craft of production while performing as a professional jazz bassist with famous US jazz icons.

McDowall and her cast and team were thrilled to learn that the film won another Best Short Documentary Award at the Japan International Film Festival in October 2022, for a twelfth award. Then McDowall capped it off.

In 2024, the director is still receiving prestigious short film festing invites. She decided to stop festing on the film circuit after 2022, due to the unexpected and overwhelming response to her short film.

Director’s Retreat

Seeking solitude from a continuous stream of global email and social media messages, she retreated peacefully to her Canadian BC mountain home, focused once again on all-things-music, including reviving her bucket list item of releasing her past recorded work as a jazz guitarist-bandleader.

At one point in 2022 Christmas, after posting about her favourite sitarist, the late Ravi Shankar, McDowall received hundreds of foreign language messages just in 12 hours, mostly African and Hindi, and despite it being in the very middle of Christmas, she tried to apologize for not answering by using google translate in various African languages and Hindi, shocked by the numbers of messages. At that point feeling overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the messages, she decided to stop film festing, putting things aside to take a retreat and a computer break for a while.

McDowall has been focused on jazz documenting varied recording artists and guests through writing and radio spanning two decades, including seven years of television focus. She also for a decade was working formerly as a jazz guitarist/composer and bandleader in Vancouver, BC. She began performing professionally as a guitarist at age 16/17.


The Nanaimo mini-documentary film about Vancouver Island/Vancouver, BC resident jazz bassist/producer/composer Rick Kilburn, In the Zone: Rick Kilburn, achieved a third Hollywood award win early in film festing. Film director and Canadian Polaris Music Prize juror Kerilie McDowall and her crew won the June 2021 Best Web and New Media award at IndieX Film Fest in Hollywood. Additionally at Hollywood's Indie Short Fest, the short received the June 2021 Outstanding Achievement Award for Best Web and New Media and an Honorable Mention Award for Best Web and New Media at the Independent Shorts Awards in LA in March 2020. The short was selected at the 2021 Milan FFI Film Fest International for Milan, where Kerilie and gifted Technical Supervisor, Shaw Spotlight’s Todd Jones, (McDowall's directing mentor) picked up an award for Best Editing of a Short Documentary, adding to the total of 12 awards, mentions, nominations, and selections.

In the Zen

With daily film festival invites still flowing in 2024, Kerilie McDowall has been wrapping up most of the festival participation except for correspondence, to focus on her bucket list on a future jazz guitar album release. Remaining committed with her dedication for education for guitarists/musicians and filmmakers, McDowall is grateful.

“I can't believe how wonderful 2024 has been, it has brought me much joy to be acknowledged by the Women of Influence Awards and the Nanaimo community, and business colleagues from the USA on Alignable. I am very honored and grateful to the Nanaimo community, Blaise Hunter, and the Alignable team and community. I am very excited to be working on a special treat with some wonderful upcoming interviews for readers to bring to you at All About Jazz and In the Zen. And there will be more surprises to come," said McDowall.

To hear news from the 12x award-winning documentary short director of, In the Zone: Rick Kilburn, subscribe to Kerilie McDowall’s blog, In the Zen. McDowall enjoys blogging about Canadian jazz, creative music, with high-profile interviews, lifestyle, health, organic gardening, film, jazz music industry, guitar tips, and her news updates. She’s happy to share tips as a past TV Director, radio host TV host, and producer. Donate to McDowall’s In the Zen blog so that Kerilie can spend more time bringing you the stories and interviews here.

Beginner and advancing guitarists and the new curious are welcome to join and collaborate in McDowall’s new Facebook group, How Play Guitar for Beginners & Guitarists. McDowall enjoys teaching guitar students, new film directors, and musicians, and works hard to assist while coaching others.

“I have been thrilled to just hear that a gifted jazz artist I have worked closely with in the past has just been nominated for a JUNO award. That artist worked very hard, is brilliant, and earned that status. I am so happy that national judges are highlighting Canada's best to the globe. We have a lot of exciting talent in this country and it is an honor with my business Canadian Online Guitar Lessons (& Creative Services) to work with such fine artists. As a Polaris Music Prize judge I have discovered that our Canadian musicians are some of the best artists in the world," said McDowall.

The goal for McDowall is to enable all students to maximize their potential towards success. McDowall invites music, film, writing students and recording artists to contact her at Canadian Online Guitar Lessons.

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