The Simon Fraser University Film Workshop began in May 1967 when the university first obtained 16mm production facilities. The Film Workshop was a non-credit, production-orientated program coordinated through the Centre for Communication and the Arts that became the foundation for the SFU Film Minor program.
Under supervision of the University Resident in Film, students learned directing, filming, lighting, and sound technique, and served as cast and crew for each other's films. Students worked in 8mm, 16mm and videotape formats and produced films for educational rather than commercial purposes. At the end of each year, the films were screened on campus. Many of the films went on to win prizes in local and international student film festivals and have been screened all over North America and at European film festivals.
The film mentors leading the workshop in the early years included Shiela Reljic (1967 - 1969); Stan Fox, from CBC Vancouver (1969-1971); Luke Bennett, a New York film editor (1971-1972); Vincent Vaitiekunus (1972-1974); and Guy Bergeron, a filmmaker from Quebec (1974-1976). In 1979 Robert Nicholl, Jo Kirpatrick and Rick Patton, all filmmakers from the National Film Board (NFB) came to the workshop. That same year two more additional NFB filmmakers Tony Westman and Mark Smith joined the program along with Al Razutis (an independent experimental film maker from Vancouver). Staffing increases were met with an expansion in the Centre for the Arts and the creation of the film minor program that included courses in production and theory. This was supported by the growing curriculum of the Centre for the Arts that included a wide range of courses in theatre, sound, dance and studio art.
In 1987 SFU professors Patricia Gruben and Colin Browne conceived of Praxis, a national film writing and production workshop housed at the university. This program, along with SFU's four-year film program has enabled budding filmmakers to direct and produce their first feature films with renowned directors, writers, and editors.
The collection consists of textual records and 16mm films created by students who participated in the SFU Film Workshop program. For most of the film titles there are multiple reels which represent the individual production elements (i.e., A Roll, B Roll, Magnetic Track, Optical Track, Work Print) that were used to produce the final film version. Some films have related textual records that document the director's production notes used when editing the film.