New College Alumna Sarah Ker-Hornell (1981)

A seasoned commercial film Executive, Sarah Ker‐Hornell began her career as a freelance P.A. and camera truck driver. In 1995, Sarah established Angel Films Inc., offering production  consultation/execution for domestic and foreign commercial production activity, shooting across Canada and internationally, and developing business, operational, strategic and marketing plans for commercial companies, winning national and international awards along the way. Since 2003, Angel Films has also offered government relations and business development consultation to the Ontario Screen-based industry (film, television and interactive media) for all levels of government.

This work helped pave the way for 2011 as Ontario’s best year for film and television production volumes, becoming the #1 jurisdiction in Canada, and #3 in North America. In January 2011, Sarah accepted the role of Executive Director and CEO of screen-based industry consortium, Film Ontario.

Graduate of University of Toronto, BA, (1981) Founding member of CPAT (Commercial Production Association of Toronto) Nominated for RBC Entrepreneur of the year (1998), Selected for Chatelaine’s Who’s Who for Canadian Women (1999), and Canada’s Who’s Who (2000). Awarded University of Toronto Arbor Award (2005) for 10 years of student Mentorship. Charter Board member of Toronto Film Board (2005 to present); Charter Member of the OMDC screen-based industry Advisory Committee (2006 to present); Steering Committee member of CONCERT (Consortium on New Media, Creative and Entertainment R&D in the  Toronto  Region)  (2007-08);  Member of the  Toronto  Board  of  Trade  Economic  Development Committee (2009 to  present); Charter Board member of SIRT (Screen Industries Research and Training Centre, Sheridan College/Pinewood Toronto Studios).


Describe yourself in 50 words or less

A mother, wife, daughter, and sister who values family above all; is strong, high-energy, a strategic-thinker, hard worker, builder, idea-smith, curious, active, caring, enjoys making order out of chaos and handles a crisis well.

Why did you choose New College and what were your expectations?

U of T was the only University for me; it was a lifelong dream to attend the “Harvard of Canada.” My hope was to be accepted at UC, with UVic as a second choice. Unfortunately, my marks were 2% too low for either. What softened the blow was the fact that New College residence was not just Arts & Science students – it was predominantly kids in Nursing, Pharmacy, Phys Ed, Music, Forestry, Engineering, Architecture and the like. A wonderful world. My expectations were to be surrounded by people who were academically driven, yet had other interests as well (i.e. sports, etc). This expectation was met in spades!

How did your academic and social experience at the University/College prepare you for life and your career?

I have always loved to learn, so my undergrad degree expanded my ability to capture learning and discuss and explore ideas, and to express those ideas in essay form. An English degree teaches you about the Human Condition. Anyone who studies Shakespeare and Chaucer in any depth will surely navigate the world with skill and grace. My education was not career specific; I was very pleased about that. I wanted to go into the world to discover my direction.

Tell us about some of the lessons you learned and how valuable they are today

I learned that everyone has their own process for delivering outputs; each of us must identify and protect our process.

What was important to you then – what is important now?

What was important to me then was achievement, as quickly as possible. I wanted my time to be filled with academic or athletic activity. I am so glad that the 3 year degree was an option! Now, the most important thing is my family, followed by achievement. But the achievement is a means to an end – freedoms and choices.

What are your major accomplishments and who had the most influence on your Career?

I have been fortunate to have several major accomplishments – in family and in business. My bio outlines the biz stuff. My Dad had/has the most influence on my career. Although he died when I was in my third year at U of T, his lessons about people, values, principles, handling ourselves and our emotions, (for business and personal), and his absolute belief in my ability to accomplish anything that I was prepared to work damned hard for (especially being a woman!). I saw myself through his eyes, and it has sustained me through more difficulties than I care to recall.

In your personal or professional life, what are you most looking forward to?

Personal? Am looking forward to seeing my son embrace his adult life, to becoming a grandmother, and to enjoying a healthy, happy life with my husband, family and friends. Professional? Am looking forward to another career arc – perhaps in the UK or France – before settling back in Canada to semi-retirement.