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Michael Collier graduated from Simon Fraser University in 1969. In the mid-1960s, while studying for a degree in physics, Collier became one of the first members of the SFU Film Workshop under Stan Fox. It was this involvement that fired his interest in film making and ultimately steered him away from a career in physics. After completing his BSc, Collier s first job was with Alpha Cine Motion Picture Lab, where he stayed for eight years (1969-1976).
While at Alpha Cine, Collier had the opportunity to work with many internationally known directors and producers, working as both production manager and technical director. The colour tinting used throughout the film McCabe and Mrs. Miller was invented by Collier and Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. Collier was the technical advisor on Days of Heaven, which won the Academy Award for cinematography.
Collier is a founding director of the Pacific Cinematheque, a founding member of the BC Branch of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association (1976), and a member of the Directors Guild of Canada.