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 tragically killed one night. But, through a strange twist of fate, Nick Stern’s spirit is able to return to earth. There’s only two problems – no one recognizes him, and he looks just like a man wanted by the law.

We’ve all lost somebody, and “A Fish Story” revisits all those emotions. We often wish we could have that person back. In “A Fish Story”, we see that same yearning in the spirit of Nick Stern. The one who has passed away also wishes he had more time on earth, and he’d give anything if he had the chance to go back. There are lessons for all of us within this story, but they are not heavy-handed.

Under Matt Birman’s passionate, yet balanced, direction and Mario Janelle’s magnificent cinematography, this film sweeps you up right into the story, along with the breathtaking helicopter shots. The plot of the story is very close to Sam Roberts’ real life. He still owns the fishing cabin, which his father built, in the woods at the edge of a lake. His dad died also, the night he finished building that cabin for his family.

Nearly all of the behind and in front of the camera people on this film have been long-time friends of Sam Roberts. It’s a first-time production for many of them. However, the quality of both the production and the acting belies that reality. All of the actors are first rate. Eddie McClintock (played by Eddie Wilkins) is outstanding as the down-on-his-luck trouble-maker who gets a chance at redemption. Also of particular note is the girl who plays Nick’s young daughter, Charlotte – nicknamed “Charlie”. She is Jordyn Negri, a first-time film actress. Roberts says, “We auditioned a lot of young actresses for the role. But the minute she walked in, we knew she was the one.”

Notable in the other lead roles are Jayne Heitmeyer as Jane Stern, the widow and mom, Jamie Spilchuk as the oldest son, John, Steven Yaffee as the younger son, Billy, and Patrick Collins as Sheriff Hal Payton. For Roberts this film was a labor of love, and persistence. It grew out of a poem that Roberts wrote when his dad died in 1985, “A Cabin in the Woods”. The original song plays over the end credits. The rest of the musical score, by Norman Corbeil, is fitting and well done.

Roberts intimates, “We wrote it to tell it [the story]. Two guys from Montreal had a dream.” It would seemdreams do come true. “A Fish Story” screens in Mystic, CT during Moondance, September 26 though the 29th.