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Canadian Film Encyclopedia

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William Fruet

Director, Producer, Screenwriter, Actor
(b. January 1, 1933 Lethbridge, Alberta)

A graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, William Fruet trained as an actor, playwright and director. He moved to Toronto in 1952, intending to find acting work, but had to supplement his occasional roles in CBC productions by working as a photographer. He eventually landed a role in Drylanders (1963), the first dramatic feature produced by the National Film Board.

In 1962, Fruet left Canada for California, where he lived for three years, working as a director with a number of small industrial film companies. He studied briefly at UCLA’s film school and worked on medical instructional films. Upon his return to Toronto in 1965, he worked as an editor at the CBC, where he met Don Shebib (the two men had attended UCLA at the same time, but had never met each other there). Fruet also did some editing work with Don Haig’s Film Arts company on such projects as Voyage of the Phoenix (1967) and The Fabulous Sixties (1970).

Fruet then began to focus more on his writing and met with great success, becoming a prominent screenwriter on the English-Canadian film scene in the early seventies. His script for Goin’ Down the Road (1970), directed by Shebib, won the Canadian Film Award for Best Screenplay, and the film itself has been named one of Canada’s Top Ten Films for two decades running. Fruet’s other scripts of note include Rip-Off (1971), also directed by Shebib, and Slipstream (1973).

Wedding in White (1972), which Fruet adapted from his own stage play, marked his directorial debut and was very well received. It won a Canadian Film Award for Best Picture and is still considered a classic of the period. However, Fruet’s later work never lived up to his early promise. A vocal proponent of increased commercialization in Canadian cinema, he went on to direct a number of films aimed at mainstream success. Although Death Weekend (1975) is of interest for continuing, and elaborating upon, several themes Fruet had explored in his earlier work (particularly the victimization of women by men), the majority of these commercial efforts – such as Search and Destroy (1978), Funeral Home (1980) and Spasms (1981) – were forgettable slasher films typical of the tax-shelter era.

Since the mid-eighties he has directed almost exclusively for television, including his work on the hit CBC series Da Vinci’s Inquest.

Film and video work includes

Wojeck, series, 1966-1968 (editor; TV, 20 episodes)
Voyage of the Phoenix, The Public Eye series, 1967 (co-editor with Helga Ashworth; TV)
Cuba, The Way It Is series, 1968 (editor)
The Fabulous Sixties, 1970 (editor; TV)
Slipstream, 1972 (writer)
Bring Whiskey and a Smile, 1974 (director)
Italy, 1974 (director; producer; co-writer with Jerry Lawton)
125 Rooms of Comfort, 1974 (co-writer with Victor Coleman and Patrick Loubert)
Death Weekend, 1975 (director; writer)
The Winner, 1975 (producer)
Search and Destroy, 1978 (director)
One of Our Own, For the Record series, 1979 (director; TV)
Cries in the Night, 1979 (director; producer)
Trapped, 1980 (director) a.k.a. Baker County, U.S.A.
Funeral Home, 1980 (director, producer)
Spasms, 1981 (director; co-writer with Don Enright)
Bedroom Eyes, 1983 (director)
Vanderberg series, 1983 (co-directed with Peter Rowe; TV)
Full Circle Again, 1984 (director; TV)
The Ray Bradbury Theatre series, 1985 (director; TV)
Brothers by Choice, 1986 (director)
Killer Party, 1986 (director)
Blue Monkey, 1987 (director) a.k.a. Green Monkey/Insect
Friday the 13th: The Series, 1987 (director; TV)
Chasing Rainbows miniseries, 1988 (co-director with Bruce Pittman; TV)
If Looks Could Kill, Alfred Hitchcock Presents series, 1988 (director; TV)
My Secret Identity series, 1988 (director; TV)
War of the Worlds series, 1988 (director; TV)
The Hit, Counterstrike series, 1990 (director; TV)
Mysterious Island series, 1995 (director; producer; TV)
Poltergeist: The Legacy series, 1996 (director; TV, five episodes)
Animorphs series, 1998 (director; TV)
Da Vinci's Inquest series, 1998 (director; TV)
Code Name: Eternity series, 1999 (director; TV)
Dear America: A Line in the Sand, 2000 (director; TV)
The Zack Files series, 2000 (director; TV)
Tracker series, 2001 (director; TV, three episodes)
Wild Card series, 2003 (director; TV)