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Robin Spry

Director, Producer, Screenwriter

Robin Spry was one of the brightest talents of the late sixties and early seventies and a pioneer of the emerging English-Canadian film scene of that era. Equally adept at documentary and fiction and gifted with a keen eye for social analysis, his films often dealt with contemporary social issues and were continually concerned with the politics of power.

Spry first became interested in film and drama while attending Oxford University and the London School of Economics, where he made several short dramatic films and headed a film unit. Upon his return to Montreal in 1964, he joined the NFB as a summer student and became a full-time employee in 1965. He worked as an assistant director on Don Owen's High Steel (1965) and The Ernie Game (1967) and also wrote the script for Owen’s You Don’t Back Down (1965).

His impassioned documentary short Flowers on a One-Way Street (1967) was one of the most potent direct cinema portraits of sixties youth rebellion, and his first documentary feature Prologue (1970), about the riots at the 1968 Democratic Party convention in Chicago, won a British Academy Award (BAFTA). He is perhaps best known for the controversial Action: The October Crisis of 1970 (1974), which documents the events surrounding the kidnapping of British diplomat James Cross and the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte. The film earned him a Canadian Film Award for Best Non-Feature Direction. Released a year earlier, Action’s companion piece, Reaction: A Portrait of a Society in Crisis, features a more exclusively English-Canadian perspective of the October Crisis.

Other notable works include the remarkable television film Drying Up the Streets (1976) – which serves as a kind of epilogue to Prologue and Flowers on a One-Way Street One Man (1977), for which he won a Canadian Film Award for Best Screenplay, and the fiction features Suzanne (1980) and Obsessed (1988).

By the early nineties, he had turned from directing to focus on producing. At its peak in the late nineties, his Montreal-based firm Téléscene Film Group was churning out $80 million worth of production annually. More integrated in the Quebec film scene than most Anglophones, he produced such films as À corps perdu (1988), Malarek (1989) and Une Histoire inventée (1990). In 1998, he produced the Japanese-Canadian co-production "Hiroshima" (1998), about the development of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, which won three Gemini Awards including Best Mini-Series. He was killed on March 28, 2005 when he lost control of his car on a Montreal street.

Film and video work includes

Miner, 1965 (director; co-writer with Strowan Robertson)
You Don't Back Down, 1965 (writer)
Change in the Maritimes, 1966 (director; co-writer with Stowan Robertson)
Illegal Abortion, 1966 (director; writer)
Level 4350, 1966 (director; writer)
Little White Crimes, 1966 (co-writer with Charles Cohen)
Ride for Your Life, 1966 (director)
Prologue, 1970 (director; story; co-producer with Tom Daly)
co-producer with Normand Cloutier, Tom Daly)
Downhill, 1973 (director; co-producer with Tom Daly)
Face, 1975 (director; editor; cinematographer; co-producer with Tom Daly)
One Man, 1977 (director; co-writer with Peter Madden, Peter Pearson)
Suzanne, 1980 (director; writer)
Kings and Desperate Men: A Hostage Incident, a.k.a. Kings and Desperate Men, 1981 (actor)
Keeping Track, 1985 (director; writer; producer)
Hitting Home, a.k.a. Obsessed, 1987 (director; writer; producer; TV)
A corps perdu, 1988 (producer)
You've Come a Long Way, Ladies, 1988 (producer: TV)
Malarek, a.k.a. Malarek: A Street Kid who Made It, 1989 (producer)
Une histoire inventée, 1990 (producer)
A Cry in the Night, 1992 (director; writer; producer; TV)
The Myth of the Male Orgasm, 1993 (producer)
Hiroshima, 1995 (executive producer; TV)
Midnight Man, a.k.a. Eye of the Storm; Jack Higgins' Midnight Man, 1995
(co-executive producer; TV)
Witchboard III: The Possession, a.k.a. Witchboard: The Possession, 1995 (producer)
On Dangerous Ground, 1996 (co-executive producer; TV)
Windsor Protocol, a.k.a. Jack Higgins' Windsor Protocol, 1996
(executive producer; TV)
The Hunger series, 1997 (executive producer; TV)
Student Bodies series, a.k.a. Vice-versa, 1997 (executive producer; TV)
Escape From Wildcat Canyon, 1998 (executive producer)
Going to Kansas City, 1998 (executive producer)
Thunder Point, a.k.a. Jack Higgins' Thunder Point, 1998 (co-executive producer; TV)
Big Wolf on Campus series, 1999 (executive producer; TV)
Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, a.k.a. The Prophecy of the Tiger, 1999
(executive producer; TV)
The Lost World series, a.k.a. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, 1999 (executive producer; TV)
Nightmare Man, 1999 (executive producer)
Live Through This series, 2000 (executive producer; TV)
Matthew Blackheart: Monster Smasher, a.k.a. Blackheart, 2002
(executive producer; TV)
Seriously Weird series, 2002 (executive producer; TV)
Student Seduction, 2003 (executive producer; TV)
Charlie Jade series, 2004 - 2005 (producer; executive producer; TV)