Alberta’s First Feature

By September 24, 2014Screenings

FIL FRASER is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, writer and human rights activist with an impressive career spanning more than half a century. He is a leading pioneer in Alberta’s film industry, responsible for founding the Alberta Film & Television Awards in 1974 and producing Alberta’s first feature Why Shoot The Teacher? (1977), which became the highest grossing film in Canada that year. Why Shoot The Teacher? will be screened during this week’s Alberta Culture Days so we checked in with Fil Fraser on the 37th Anniversary of the film and where he feels our industry is headed.

Born in Montreal, Fraser headed west at the height of his career in the media industry, a time where he says, “you couldn’t turn on the radio or TV without seeing me there.” He was a Co-Anchor for CBC Edmonton’s news and public affairs program, the host of Talk Back – the most highly rated talk show on CJCA – from 1974-1979 and hosted his own program on ITV, The Fil Fraser Show.

The Alberta Film & Television Awards were founded in 1974 as a result of Fil Fraser’s conversation with Minister of Culture Horst Scmid (see video below). “We were making it up as we went along and breaking new ground any time we did anything.”

[youtube]http://youtu.be/ozYS6xh-ChA?list=PL6oD8N5uHKolcPhTpBUeTaaIFGSuJDCSu[/youtube]

That willingness to break new ground is the same spirit that pulled Fraser into making his first feature. Canadian novelist Max Braithwaite was a friend of Fraser’s and casually mentioned that someone should make a movie of one of his books. “That was the red flag for me,” Fil says. “He said someone outta do it. Well… I’ll do it!”

A short time after, Fil Fraser met with screenwriter Jim DeFelice at the University of Alberta’s Faculty Club and hired him. In 1978, Jim was awarded a Canadian Screen Award for Best Screenplay and the movie was a hit.

Thanks to people like Fil Fraser, Alberta’s Film & Television industry was given the foundation to build on. With award-winning series like Blackstone, Heartland, Hell On Wheels and the newly Emmy award-winning FARGO, Fraser is glad to see Alberta’s Film and TV industry alive and well.

AMPIA is presenting a FREE screening of Why Shoot The Teacher? as part of Alberta Culture Days on Sunday, September 28 at the Metro Cinema (8712-109 street, Edmonton, AB). Fil Fraser and Jim DeFelice will be in attendance with a reception will follow.