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