Sam Roberts wishes he could fish with his father just one more time.
Although he knows it could never happen—his father died 1986—Roberts’ memories of these special times are preserved in a movie he made, aptly named “A Fish Story.”
For him, making the film was therapy, and he’s hoping it will feel like therapy for anyone in the audience who’s ever dealt with loss.
“What a gift if you can change the broken hearts and give them a reason to look forward,” Roberts said.
The movie, a story about loss and love, will return to town this Thursday, seven years after its debut at the Bedford Playhouse. The film features Roberts’ family and some local residents.
Longtime Katonah resident Patrick Collins, who plays the role of a sheriff suffering from the misconception that he left his best friend to die, is one of them. Having performed in over 30 movies, Collins said “A Fish Story” was different from any other movie he’s done.
“The experience is so unique,” Collins said. “It’s a collaborative work and connected with so many people.”
The film was shot in Lac-Sainte-Marie, a remote town in Canada. The filming involved many people in the town, who offered their places up for locations and helped build sets.
The main setting, a cabin, was preserved as “Sam’s Cabin.” Years later, the town also built a podium to honor the movie.
The movie is an homage to Roberts’ father, who spent a lot of time building a cabin for his family, but died before it was finished. The regret of not getting to enjoy his father’s “heaven on earth” cabin with him inspired Roberts to write the movie.
“I truly believe at that moment my father was saying to me ‘stop wishing about the past and start living your life. You’ll be nothing if you hang on to the past’,” Roberts said.
To match the surrounding scenery of his father’s cabin, Roberts, who’s originally from Canada, went back to his home country and spent two years scouting a lakeside site. He found the perfect cabin, matched the topography, and shot the movie on 35mm film to give the audience the “look and feel” of the real site.
Roberts moved to Bedford more than two decades ago, and was glad to see his first movie come back to the community, where he raised his kids, coached baseball and connected with many families. The film’s debut raised over $40,000 for a local grief-counseling center. Over the years, Roberts said the movie has won 17 awards, including best film, best actor and a writer’s award.
“One thing I always feel about the movie, is that in a very special way it touches people’s hearts,” Roberts said.
A screening of the movie and a Q&A with Sam Roberts and Patrick Collins will be at The Bedford Playhouse on Aug. 29. For tickets and more information, visit https://bedfordplayhouse.org/special_events/a-fish-story/