The PEN: Peter Harvey - Producer/Filmmaker

This weeks PEN is focusing on Producer/Filmmaker Peter Harvey. Pete has worked in both the multimillion dollar blockbuster film world and the smaller Canadian indie picture world and has found success in both. His drive to tell an engaging and thoughtful story has lead him to this success and will continue to do so in the future. His latest film Picture Day is currently playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, you can find the link to tickets below. Enjoy. 

I started making movies when I was 11 years old. I had a pretty good sense of who I was and why I did it. Mainly, I made movies for fun, with my best friends with an unlimited amount of time to shoot them. Plain and simple. We had the best time doing it and because of that, we made movie after movie after movie. I am now currently making films and loving every minute of it. If the 11 year old me, could look at what I am doing right now, he would be proud.

It’s funny, the film industry I first entered into and the film industry I currently work in, are two completely different monsters. I entered in Vancouver and worked way down that “military style ladder” on one of those $100-200 Million movies. It was terrible. No one was there to have fun and make movies with friends. They were there to make money and go home. Day after day. Year after year. Plain and simple. That was their life and that is what they “enjoyed”… as they complained about anything and everything. That is just not my kind of filmmaking. Never has been and never will be. I left Vancouver and headed to Toronto where I felt the Indie Canadian film scene was happening.  It was and I haven’t looked back since.


The main reason I make films now: Story. I love to tell compelling stories that I believe need to be told AND have fun while making those stories come to life. I have built friendships that will last forever film sets and I hope that I will get the opportunity to make another film with those particular people again. 

Since I’ve started, I think a lot of things have changed in the actual industry. I, personally, have started to make films on a bigger budget scale, but at the same time I think that overall budgets of films are shrinking. Fewer films are being financed for more and more films are being made for “Micro” budgets. It’s a blessing and a curse. Technology is letting filmmakers make films for less, which is great, but it also means there is a lot of films that don’t get the proper development they need before they are rushed into production. I really do think that some people forgot about story. A film relies on a good story. Sometimes you can get away with a smaller budget and smaller crew, but if you’re lacking story the audience will know.

I’m very interested and curious to see where online distribution will go in the next 2-5 years. We’ve already come a long way, but I only think that it’s the beginning of the online revolution. I think going straight to online is the only way to help some of these smaller projects and the filmmakers make money off of the project, in hopes that they can make their next film. Take Ed Burns’Newlyweds as a prime example of this.

If I were to give advice to someone who was coming into the industry, I would tell them: Only get into film if you love it. It’s a crazy industry full of long hours, stressful problem solving situations and it’s not glamorous… no matter what it looks like in magazines. Do it because this is your passion and you love to make films.