Trailer

‘ a fish story’ – Synopsis

 

Nick Stern, a loving father and devoted husband is driving north to keep his promise of finishing the building of his wilderness fishing cabin on Loon Lake. Suddenly, Eddie Wilkins, a fugitive on the run, dashes across the road. Nick swerves and crashes. Eddie tries to help but runs when the sheriff, Hal Payton, arrives. After radioing for help, Hal decides to go after Eddie himself. Nick dies alone.

As final as death is for the living, for the dead it is sometimes just the beginning. Nick can’t ‘let go’. The pain his death has brought to his family is preventing him from ‘moving on’.

Three months pass before the family gets together at the cabin for the first time since their father’s death. Meanwhile, Eddie has returned for some unfinished business and Hal is hot on his trail.

The next morning, in a stolen boat, Eddie is back on the run. Only this time, it is he who crashes.

Somewhere in that place between life and death, Nick spirit saves Eddie’s soul. In return, Eddie gives Nick his body. The kids arrive to save the man on the shoreline – not knowing that he’s really their father in the body of a wanted man.

Eddie/Nick’s presence over the next few days has a wonderful effect on the family. The more time he spends with them, the more trusting of him they all become. As Hal closes in, Eddie/Nick knows his time is up. He finally understands that they all must ‘let go’ in order to be free.

The characters

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EDDIE WILKINS (Eddie McClintock)

A lumberjack by trade. He is ‘pretty rough around the edges’. A high school dropout that has never really found his way, any way to goodness of heart. Although not a dangerous man, he is a menace in that the laziness of his creed has led to a life of petty crime and self-remorse. It is his nomadic languidness that leads to a deadly encounter with Nick.
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JANE STERN (Jayne Heitmeyer)

She is Nick Stern’s naturally beautiful wife. She is a well-read scholar who opted out of a language arts career in order to raise their three children. She loves everything about her life and has stood by Nick’s dream of building his cabin.
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NICK STERN (Sam Roberts)

A loving, devoted husband and father. He is a fine builder and the owner of a design and construction firm. He has reached that point where he has decided to ‘slow down’ and begin enjoying his life more – to finally finish building his, long promised, dream fishing cabin in the wilderness on Loon Lake.
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JOHN STERN (Jamie Spilchuk)

He is the eldest son. He graduated from college with a BBA a year ago and is currently slaying dragons in real estate. He is responsible, intelligent, motivated, and ready to become his own man in business and in life.
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BILLY STERN (Steven Yaffee)

He is the middle child and the younger brother - a second year college student. He’s a rebel on the outside and a dreamer on the inside. In love with the arts from an early age, he hopes for a life of stardom as an actor/singer-songwriter.
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CHARLOTTE (CHARLIE) STERN (Jordyn Negri )

She’s the ‘baby sister’. She is wide-eyed and innocent - an adorable, fiery tomboy. Her father instilled in her a love of fishing, and her talent for it is unparalleled by her older brothers; a fact not lost on either of them when it comes time to delivering the goods.
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SHERIFF HAL PAYTON (Patrick Collins)

He is the police chief of the town of Wakefield and Nick's best friend. He combines good old-fashioned police work with an honest affability that make him a popular choice for the office.
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MAC OLSEN (Carl Marotte)

Sheriff Payton's deputy and right hand man. He’s a capable cop who always has his boss’s back. Unlike Payton and the Sterns, Mac is from Wakefield and has deep roots in the community. He carries with him the responsibility of doing the right thing.
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LOUISE FORTIERRE (Angela Asher)

Owner and operator of an ‘all in one’ store in the town of Wakefield. She is Hal’s long time girlfriend. Her and Hal’s relationship, at times, is challenging.
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BOB GORDON (E.J. Carroll)

He’s a local boy who has never really gone anywhere. Content with his life as the owner/operator of the gas station in Wakefield.
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HANK (Timothy Webber)

He is a local hunting and fishing guide. He is an expert on everything outdoors. He has issues.

The team

Director of Photography – MARIO JANELLE

Production DesignerPaola Ridolfi

Costume DesignerSuzana Fisher

Editor – SYLVAIN LEBEL

Composer – NORMAN CORBEIL

Sound – LOUIS FREDERIC EDWARDS / JEAN-FRANÇOIS SAUVÉ - BERNARD GARIÉPY STROBL

Line ProducerSimon Abbott




Additional Cast

Bag boy – JACK BIRMAN

Hank Jr. – MICKEY ROBERTS

Waitress – PAULA PETRUS

 

Stunt Coordinator – MATT BIRMAN

Eddie’s Stunt Double – DARYL PATCHETT

Nick’s Stunt Double – MIKE CHUTE / FÉLIX FAMÉLART

Stand ins and Doubles PAM MASSEY / ROSS TUNDO

 

The Crew

1st Assistant Directors – NEESHA PATKI / BLAIR ROTH

2nd Assitant Director – NIKKI MOSCA

3rd Assistant Director – JOHN WADE

Continuity – RONALD EMERSON JOHN

Director’s Assistant – GINO VISCONTI

Camera Operators – FRANÇOIS ARCHAMBAULT / GEOFFROY ST-HILAIRE

1st Assistants Camera A – MICHEL BERNIER / DENIS-NOËL MOSTERT

2nd Assistants Camera B – JEAN-FRANÇOIS TOUSIGNANT

1st Assistant Camera B – CARLA CLARKE /JEAN-MARC CASAVANT

2nd Assistant Camera B – PASCAL BÉGIN / ISABELLE COTE / NICOD GRÉGOIRE

Loader – ISABELLE TESSIER

Special Equipment Operators – ROBERT B. BAYLIS / BRIAN BLACK / BERNARD VAN SPEYK

Camera Trainee – ALEXANDRE LAMPRON

Still Photographer – VINCENZO SPINA

 

EPK Services – MELISSA DIMARCO / PAUL VISCA

 

Art Director – BRENDON MAHON

1st Assistant Art Director – BARON BRYANT

Key Set Decorator – MAURICIO ORTIZ

Head Carpenter – OLIVER DRAKE

Carpenter – BARRY THOMAS

Key Scenic Painter – CHRISTIAN CORVELEC

Scenic Painter – SYLVAIN MASSON

Painter -VALERIE LAPORTE EVANS

Set Dressers – DANIC THOMAS ANGERS / DENIS LEMIRE / GLENDON LIGHT

 

Property Master – TIM WINCHESTER

Assistant Property Master – FANNY GAUTHIER

Property Buyer – MARIE-CLAUDE GUAY

Picture Vehicle Manager – MARK DZIKOWSKI

 

Wardrobe Master – GUY CLOUTIER

Wardrobe Assistant – KARINE DASHNEY

 

Key Make-up Artist – LARYSA CHERNIENKO

Make-up Artist ELBINA OULMACHEVA

Daily Make-up Artist – GABRIELA PRIETO

 

Gaffer – DANIEL CHRÉTIEN

Best Boy Electric – DANIEL CHRÉTIEN JR

Lighting Technicians – MANUEL DAIGNEAULT / DANIEL GOYENS

- MARC-ANTOINE / THÉRIAULT-DAUNAIS

Daily Lighting Technicians – CHARLES MARCOTTE / CHARLES PÉLOQUIN

- FRANCIS PÉPIN-VIAUMARTIN ROY

Genny Operator – STÉPHANE BOISVERT

Daily Genny Operator – YVES OUIMET

 

Key Grip – PAUL DUCHESNE

Best Boy Grip – CLAUDE SAUVAGEAU

Dolly Grip – BRAD MACLEAN

Grips – TOMMY BELLEFEUILLE /DANIEL ROBIDOUX

Daily Grip- DANY PRÉVOST

Crane Operator – BRIAN TURPIN

 

Boom Operators – PASKAL PERREAULT / DANIEL PROVENCHER

Visual Effects Supervisor – JACQUES LEVESQUE

 

Special Effects Supervisor – OHN LAFORET

Special Effects Assistants – ENNIO MAXIMILIANO BETTI / BEN BOREAN

- DYLAN BRYSON / DYLAN HANKINSON / GREG SANTACONA

Armourer – ANDREW CAMPBELL

 

Unit Manager – MARTIN COUTURE

Assistant Unit Manager – STÉPHANE BOUCHER /BEN DIONNE

Location Scout – JACQUES GÉDÉON

 

Set Driver – CODY JOHNSON

Drivers – MARC ANTONACCI / STEVEN ANTONACCI / SHAMSO BIHI / MARK FIELDS

- ROBERT FORGET / COREY GABIE / MARCEL LALONDE / TONY MURATTI

- SCOTT MCPHERSON / MICHEL SAULE / ERIC SMITH / ROGER TAVERNER

- YVAN TESSIER / ALLEN VEILLT / TAMARA WALKER

Security – JAMES BALL /MARK BLUM / CHRISTINA EMERSON

- RICK EMERSON / RICHARD DAVID GAGNON

- MARC-ANTOINE RODGERS DUVAL

 

Production Assistants - RODRIGO BOLANOS / SHARON LAFRENIÈRE

- PASKALE LEBLOND CHAMPAGNE / JÉROME PILETTE

- FRÉDÉRICTAILLEFER

 

Craft Services – JOEY GUNN / DANIEL VILLENEUVE

 

Medic -ROBERT HARRISON

Water Safety/Diver – SÉBASTIEN SAVIGNAC

 

Production Manager – LISE CHAPDELAINE

Production Coordinator – CRISTINA BORTOLOTTI

Production Secretary – GENEVIÈVE CÔTÉ

Producer’s Assistant – GINETTE SCHNEIDER

Receptionist – MICHELINE FLEURANT

Production Assistant – MARC BROWN / STEVEN CECERE

- JOËL ELEMENT-KNIPPENBERG /SYLVIE LAFRENIÈRE

- TASHA STEIN

MATT BIRMAN

 

Born in Montreal and raised in New York, Matt is the son of two actors and has known only the worlds of stage and films his entire life. ‘a fish story’ marks his directorial feature film debut.

A proud member of both the Director’s Guild of America [2003] and the Director’s Guild of Canada [1996], he has participated in the making of over 150 films and 2,500 hours of episodic television in his capacities as an actor, stunt performer, stunt coordinator, and 2nd Unit Director.

He is most proud of his long working association with the legendary George A. Romero who he’s collaborated with since 2004.

Matt has directed and enjoyed working with Milla Jovovich, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Keith Carradine, Timothy Olyphant, and Peter Weller among many others.

He has homes in Los Angeles and Toronto.

Director’s Thoughts

Somehow, a late loved one’s spirit is always with us and, if the lives we’ve lived are the main course, our memories may just be the sweet desert. That idea alone brings me some sort of whimsy, as opposed to sadness when I think of my own departed mother. On the other hand, love can bring us to put on the old rose-colored glasses when we reminisce.

But when faced with the memory of a passed parent, or anyone very close to us, we very often wonder aloud, “I wonder what Mom would think?” or “Dad would’ve loved to have been here for this!” I think we find it compelling and magical, the possibility of the deceased being with us, whether phantasm or sweet memory.

The imposing blend of both its far-reaching beauty and brave plunge into a spirit world of possibility are what make ‘a fish story’ a wonderful conundrum. Making the film, we encountered instances of intervention, whether divine or not, that continuously astounded and sometimes stopped us in our path.

Almost everyone involved in the process had a personal tale to share or a mystical connection with some aspect of our story, and our incredible setting.
Endeavoring to make any film is a massive undertaking for a collective of minds and bodies that brings many, many challenges.

Watching an armada of pontoons, jet-skis, and bass boats motoring down a magnificent lake at sunrise loaded with film folk and gear, the sheer impossibility of it after so many years of dreaming, made me wonder every day if someone or something was helping us along. I know now that there was.

‘a fish story’ gives us the opportunity to look at our regrets, our wrong turns, and our guilt without a sense of defeat, but a sense of hope. I feel that without pious, yet plenty of spirit and the help of a miracle, we learn that redemption can come with the pure act of simply letting go.

Heaps and heaps of faith go a long way too.

Matt Birman
2013

sam roberts – the journey

 

Based on a real life story, ‘a fish story’ evolved out of a promise my father made to my older brother and me when we were small boys living in Montreal. His promise was that one day we (he) would build a fishing cabin up north in Quebec’s lake country. It would be a place with beautiful sunsets, campfires, shooting stars, big water and great fishing. It became his ‘go to’ bedtime story to us for the remaining years of our youth.

One of his favorite poets was the Canadian, Robert Service and one of his favorite poems was, ‘The Cremation of Sam Magee’. There is a line from it that begins with, ‘Now a promise made is a debt unpaid…’ and my father spent the next twenty years of his life wanting to but never quite getting around to keeping that promise. Then as fate would have it, in May of 1985 when he finally did get around to building his fishing cabin, he died on the night of its ‘grand opening’.

It was 1986 when I first put this story down on paper. It was a poem written in the style and rhyming scheme of Robert Service’s, ‘The Cremation of Sam Magee’. It is called, ‘The Cabin in the wood’. In 1991 it became a song of the same title. A friend of mine wrote the music and another friend performed it. From this, the idea for a screenplay was born. The next 10 years were filled with screenwriting seminars, working with script advisors, and countless false starts. I had to teach myself how to write a movie.

In 2001 I thought I was ready to make my movie but I at the last second ‘pulled the plug’. When I was asked why I said it was because the team I had assembled at the time seemed more committed to what they could get out of the project than the project itself. I think I was just plain scared. In retrospect, no matter the reason, it was the right decision. Even though it meant that my story would, once again, be put on the shelf.

In 2006 I recommitted myself to the project. I spent the better part of the next two years writing and rewriting.

In 2008 I entered my screenplay into a dozen international film festivals’ screenplay competitions and won, placed and showed in five of them. Finally, after twenty-two years there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

In the summer of 2009 I went to Gatineau, Quebec to scout locations for the movie with the hope of not only finding the look of the film but also a team of people that shared my passion for this story. I found both.

In the fall of 2010 I met Michael Mosca of Equinoxe Films in Montreal and my production team was complete.

We shot the movie in the summer of 2011 and finished post production in August of 2012.

This is my first screenplay.

Sam Roberts – screenwriter
2013

On the set

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behind the scenes

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The Cabin in the Wood


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(INTRO)

There are strange things seen in the forest green
By the men who fish and hunt,
The lumber roads have their secret codes
That will make you curse and grunt.
The Northern lights have seen mighty sights
But the mightiest that ever stood,
Was a little stake down by the lake
And that cabin in the wood.

Well it’s hard to say on just what day
Or how it al began,
This is the story of one man’s glory
And his life long dream as a man.
“A dream ain’t willed it’s something you build.’
He used to say with a smile,
“And as you grow you’ll come to know
A dream can take a while.’

CHORUS
Take me back to the cabin in the wood before I die…

It was on his knee my brother and me
We’d sit for the longest spell,
Of the ‘Julie Plante’ and ‘The Habitant’
Oh the stories he could tell.
“Just one more then to bed we’ll soar
Please tell us if you would,
The one about the big lake trout
And that cabin in the wood?”

To the north he went his days were spent
Working with a team,
Of family and friends and odds and ends
And living out his dream.
He finally won his dream was done
And everything was good,
A family life his friends and wife
And his cabin in the wood.

It didn’t seem right that he died that night
So close and yet so far,
But tangible things don’t have wings
That’s why dreams are what they are.
What you want so much you just can’t touch
I finally understood,
That his life thread as born and bred
In that cabin in the wood.

CHORUS
Take me back to the cabin in the wood before I die…

It stands there today tucked away
Alone but not apart,
For in it’s walls there’s a voice that calls
You can hear it in your heart.
It warms the soul it makes you whole
A symbol for all that’s good.
It’s the gift of giving and the joy of living
In that cabin in the wood.

END CHORUS
Take me back to the cabin in the wood…
Take me back to the cabin in the wood…
Take me back to the cabin in the wood…
Where I can die… Where I can die…
Take me back to the cabin in the wood…
So I can die…

Written by – Sam Roberts / Music by – Jamie Gray / Performed by – Sean Fleming
Copyright 2012

Festivals

Awards

Moondance International Film Festival

2013 Moondance International Film Festival - Best Film - (Gaia Award) 2013 Moondance International Film Festival - Audience Award 2013 Moondance International Film Festival - Producer's Award 2013 Moondance International Film Festival - Writer's Award

Screenwriting Awards and Laurels

2008 - The Moondance International Film Festival - Best Screenplay - Gaia Award 2008 - The Gloria Film Festival Screenplay Competition - Semi Finalist 2008 - The Blazing Quill Screenplay Competition - Semi Finalist 2008 - The Writemovies.com Screenplay Competition - Semi Finalist 2008 - The Big Bear Lake Int'l Film Festival Screenplay Competition - Quarter Finalist

Press / Articles

‘a fish story’ lures film crew to shooting locations in Chelsea and Wakefield, Quebec

There’s something fishy going on in the Gatineau Hills – in Wakefield and Chelsea, Quebec at La Vallee Restaurant, which was closed for the day Aug. 15 and the Wakefield Express, to be part of more action on Aug. 26. That’s because these locales, among others in the area, have been picked as locations in the shooting of a movie – called “a fish story” – budgeted to cost $4.9 million. La Vallee owner Dan Faasen said the movie crew spent an entire day filming about 10 scenes at his Hwy 105 restaurant. The production companies paid for most of the lost business day and purchased food to make up f[...]

Lac-Sainte-Marie fait son cinema

JUSTINE MERCIER - Le Droit La défunte station-service de Lac-Sainte-Marie est devenue un magasin général. De faux rochers en styromousse ont été installés dans le lac. Ça fourmille un peu partout sur l'eau, au village et aux abords des chalets, alors que la municipalité de la Haute-Gatineau accueille le tournage d'une production de 4,5 millions $, ‘a fish story’. Au beau milieu du lac, mercredi, on tournait une scène d'accident. Un petit bateau devait percuter de plein fouet des rochers, pour ensuite exploser sous la force de l'impact pendant que son occupant sauvait sa peau en sautant à[...]

Nothing Fishy About This Story

Posted on January 10, 2012 by balleehoo I had breakfast with my friend Sam Roberts recently. You might have a connection to Sam without really knowing it…..Sam’s had a long career as a voice over talent…..working for numerous networks, advertisers and radio stations to communicate their messages with his unique style, pace and inflections. Take a listen….. http://www.samroberts.net/v3/home.htm …. recognize the voice? I admire Sam for a slew of reasons….he’s unyielding in his consistency when it comes to integrity, honesty, friendship, positive energy and generosity. A more solid du[...]

Nomadic Bard - 'a fish story'

2013/05/31 This third installment of movies-to-watch-for is about “a fish story”. This wonderful tale describes how a family’s love overcomes all obstacles, even death. The movie explores the family dynamics between siblings, husband and wife, parents and children, and how each relationship is tested by grief, loss, and reconciliation. I walked into the screening about 10 minutes into the film, without knowing what I was watching. I attempted to watch each film at IFFF without bias. In other words, I went into each screening without reading any of the synopses or any other available info[...]

Time is the Best Catch in Sam Roberts' Film, 'a fish story'

Written by - Mary DeBerry Sep 3, 2013 It happens whenever we lose a beloved relative, when our children grow up, or even when we've lost touch with a good friend. We wish we had more time. More time to see that person, time to enjoy or build the relationship, time to say the things we always wanted to. But it is something we can never recover. In producer/writer/actor Sam Roberts' touching feature film, "A Fish Story", one man actually gets that gift. Set in the rugged wilderness of northern Maine, "A Fish Story" is about a devoted dad, Nick Stern (played by Sam Roberts), who is tragi[...]

One Man’s Journey Into The Heart Of Filmmaking

By Greg Simay - On September 12, 2013 A chance encounter launches a story whose ending was unknown until the final minutes of the Burbank international Film festival (BIFF)… FADE IN Act I. The Screenplay In 1985, a young man’s father had just finished building a lakeside cabin in the Canadian woods. It was to be a family retreat, soon to be filled with fish stories and laughter after long summer days on the lake. Then, on the eve of the grand opening, cancer claimed his life. The young man was SAM ROBERTS, in his early twenties, who was still trying to find his way. He was barte[...]