A young Englishman abroad, Michael Spencer was stranded in Canada when World War II began in 1939. He would make Canada his home--and help establish the country's film industry. He arrived at the NFB in 1941, starting as a cameraman and becoming a producer in 1945. While NFB Commissioner John Grierson favoured documentaries, viewing film as an educational tool, Spencer wanted to make dramatic features. He was intent on creating a domestic movie industry, independent from Hollywood, and in 1966, NFB management tasked him with devising a system of public film financing. Receptive to the plan, the federal government created the Canadian Film Development Corporation (CFDC)--precursor of Telefilm--and appointed Spencer as its first Executive Director. He occupied the post from 1968 to 1978, overseeing the production of such films as Les ordres (Brault, 1974) and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (Kotcheff, 1974).
This interview is part of Making Movie History: A Portrait in 61 Parts.