Peter O’Brian is a Canadian feature film producer whose productions have won 19 Canadian Academy ‘Genie’ Awards, and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Film in 1984 for “The Grey Fox”. Over five decades, his successful collaboration with first-time directors and innovative projects made O’Brian a leader in Canadian cinema.
Peter attended the University of Toronto in the mid-Sixties while playing in the rock band The Whiskey Sours and transferred to Emerson College in Boston in 1967 to study film and mass communications. His producing career began in the mid-Seventies with the low-budget comedies Me, Love at First Sight (starring Dan Aykroyd) and the international cult classic Outrageous! (as Associate Producer).
He founded Independent Pictures Inc and began to produce some of Canada’s most important films of the eighties, including Phillip Borsos’ The Grey Fox and Sandy Wilson’s My American Cousin which won Best Motion Picture Genies for 1983 and 1986 respectively. In 1984, The Grey Fox was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best Foreign Film. Disney’s One Magic Christmas came next, followed by Gordon Pinsent’s John And The Missus and Far From Home with 20th Century-Fox in 1994. He made his directorial debut in 2003 with Hollywood North, a satirical look at the Canadian film industry during the notorious tax shelter years of the Eighties.
“My mission has been to help create a popular home cinema based on stories and characters which, without ambiguity, reflect our own aspirations and experiences, our own spirit and way of life.”
He has been passionately associated with the Canadian Film Centre since he became a founding board member in 1986 and was appointed by Norman Jewison in 1988 to be Executive Director for the Centre’s first critical years of operation. He established the Resident Programme, and acted as Producer-in-Residence in 1997 and Executive Producer of the Feature Film Programme in 2000-01.
Peter has served on many other industry boards, including the Toronto International Film Festival Group and the Academy of Canadian Film and Television.
Peter served as Chair of the Board of TVOntario for thirteen years, from 2005 to 2018.
“I believe in the power of the public arts to illuminate our lives, express our dreams, and inspire positive change in our world.”
Peter is the spouse of the Hon. Carolyn Bennett MD, Member of Parliament for Toronto-St. Paul’s, and they have two sons, Jack and Ben.
- Chair of the Board of Directors, TVO (2005-2018).
- Advisory Committee, Capilano University Film Progamme (2015-2018)
- Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Board Member (1984-1997) and continuing long-time supporter.
- Founding Board Member of the Canadian Film Centre and appointed by Norman Jewison as its Executive Director (1988-1991), its Producer-in-Residence (1996-1997), and Executive Producer of its Feature Film Program (1999-2001).
- Founding Board Member of the Toronto Arts Awards.
- 1986 Canadian Film & Television Association Personal Achievement Award “for his success in Feature Film Production”
- 1987 British Columbia Film Industry Association Award. “A tree stands at the BC Film Centre in recognition of the distinction he has brought to the motion picture industry of British Columbia”
- 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. “For his contribution and devotion to cinema and television arts in Canada”.
- 2013 Directors’ Guild of Canada Honorary Life Member Award