LOS ANGELES — Canadian filmmaker Paul Almond was working in London in the early 1960s when he and producer Tim Hewitt came up with an idea for a documentary that would examine class and society through the eyes of children.

“Over a couple of pints in a pub,” Almond told the Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto in 2004, “we decided to choose a group of 7-year-olds from both sides of the class divide and explore what their attitudes were.”

The resulting, groundbreaking film was “Seven Up!” the first in a heralded series of what came to be known as the “Up” documentaries tracing the lives of the same children as they grew older.

Almond, 83, who directed only the initial film and felt that his role in sparking the popular series was unjustly forgotten, died April 9 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.Almond was a prolific television director whose work in the 1950s and early 1960s consisted mostly of dramas, several of which featured appearances by actors who went on to be famous. Sean Connery, pre-James Bond, and Zoe Caldwell started in Almond’s Canadian Broadcast Corp. production of “Macbeth” in 1961. William Shatner, pre-“Star Trek,” was in several of Almond’s dramas, as was James Doohan (Scotty on “Star Trek”).

But Almond’s best-known project – though his name is sometimes not connected with it – is “Seven Up!” which made its debut on U.K. television in 1964.Michael Apted, who directed the powerful follow-up films in the “Up” series, was a researcher on “Seven Up!” and helped choose children from diverse backgrounds.

The film shows the children in settings that range from a pre-prep school where the song “Waltzing Matilda” is being sung in Latin to a charity home where youngsters are making their beds pushed close together in a large room. Almond can be heard asking the children about their lives and aspirations.

One wants to be a ballet dancer, another a jockey; yet another doesn’t know the meaning of the word “university.” A girl says she doesn’t want to know black people; another child plans to go to Kenya to help poor people. “Those moments of humanity were incredibly touching,” Almond said in the Globe and Mail interview of the children’s comments.

Almond was born April 26, 1931, in Montreal. He attended McGill University and Oxford University and began his television career in 1954.Almond is survived by his wife, Joan; son Matthew James Almond; three stepchildren and eight grandchildren.