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Check out Chlotrudis members reviews of GAME 6.

Last updated: January 5, 2006
Copyright 2006 Michael R. Colford.
All rights reserved

 

Spotlight On... Amy Robinson

by Beth Curran
 
A highlight for me at this year’s Provincetown International Film Festival was meeting producer Amy Robinson, who took part in the fest for the first time in support of her latest film, GAME 6. At a panel discussion later in the weekend, Amy generously mentioned Chlotrudis, interrupting her panel time to invite me to tell those in attendance more about our group. The response was great, and the rest of the weekend I was chatted up by several folks interested to learn more. Turnabout is fair play – in early August I had the opportunity to have a phone conversation with Amy, in which we talked more about her upcoming film, her experiences as a film producer, and her thoughts on all manners of things film-related
 
A Producer’s Life:
Amy Robinson has been producing films for over twenty-five years, with an impressive roster of films that includes AFTER HOURS, RUNNING ON EMPTY, FOR LOVE OF THE GAME, and FROM HELL– films which, although ostensibly made within the ‘Hollywood system’, all beat with a passionate heart more associated with what is thought of as ‘independent’(and sometimes, with independent-sized budgets). She got her start in 1978 when she and another actor friend, Griffin Dunne, decided to drum up on their own the good projects they weren’t seeing. Out of that turning point came CHILLY SCENES OF WINTER, and the realization that her talents and strengths were ideally suited to production. Plus, “I get to see it all, from beginning to end, rather than just the blip of it I did as an actor.”
 
I mentioned to her that, looking back at her filmography, it seems that she enjoys working with new directors, or established directors trying their hand in a new genre. Was this deliberate on her part? “I’m driven by material – and good material attracts directors, regardless of their style. Sam Raimi, for example – I didn’t think about what he’d done before, I wanted him because he had such passion for the story. He’s a huge baseball fan, and he just loved this script. That’s all that mattered to me.” This was a theme she’d turn to often during our chat - that it was the script, the story that mattered most, above all, for her.
 
One way in which this came up again was when I asked her what kind of producer she was, and she laughed at the familiar question. “If I ever write my memoir, I’m calling it ‘What Do You Do?’” Since her focus is on the story, her job is probably more in line with what people think a producer of ‘indies’ does. She looks for ideas, reads books and scripts, shepherds them through development, finds the money, the director and other key hires - the whole kit and caboodle. This is in opposition to more traditional Hollywood producers, where one producer might only focus on the financing, or another on story and development. It’s a point of confusion, and Amy hopes that the Producers Guild can sort out the issue of endless producer credits, thereby making it more clear who does what. The way she finally summed up her job was through analogy: “The director is the Head General on set, but the producer is the Chief of Staff.”
 
About GAME 6:
Starring Michael Keaton, the film takes place during one particular day in the life of a playwright and lifelong baseball fan: October 25, 1986, the opening of his newest play and Game 6 of the World Series, which his team is one game away from winning. So why does it seem to him like his world stands on a precipice of chaos and despair?
Michael Keaton in GAME 6
Having seen and enjoyed this film at Provincetown, I took the opportunity to talk more with Amy about the whys and wherefores behind it, as well as plans for the film’s future. She was happy to mention that the film was picked up for distribution, and that she hopes to have a simultaneous premiere in both New York and Boston sometime in early spring 2006. I agreed with her sentiment that it was most likely a good thing for the film that the Red Sox won last year – speaking for myself, I think that if that hadn’t been the case, some of the film’s later scenes would have been just unbearable.
 
Keaton is freaky good at playing a Sox fan – in fact, the film is a tour de force for the actor, being more a glimpse into the mind of a guy facing down a midlife crisis than a sports flick. Amy’s phrase was “a thinking man’s guy’s movie,” and she elaborated that it was about superstitions, hope & depression and the nexus where they meet, and the small things (a baseball game, a bad review) that can hurt or cripple a psyche, becoming iconic moments for good or bad in a person’s life. Clearly, this is not another FEVER PITCH; instead I think GAME 6 touches upon the deeper emotions attached to and stirred by baseball and its fans – why and how it’s important in the lives of some to ‘root root root for the home team’.
 
The Film Industry– Today and the Future
Our continuing talk about Amy’s thoughts for bringing GAME 6 to the screen provided the natural segue to talk in more general terms about the state of theatrical distribution today. This had been a lively topic in Provincetown during Amy’s panel discussion (co-panelist Christine Vachon went so far to say that for her purposes, “theatrical is already dead”), and it is one that Chlotrudis members often commiserate over. Why aren’t there better means to get good films to the audiences that want them?
 
Amy’s point was that, from the most mainstream of Hollywood standpoints, wide distribution means tapping the young male demographic. And that demographic nowadays is more than happy to focus on X-Boxes and computer downloads instead of going to films – and those areas of competition are only getting stronger. So, from that perspective, the industry is in a slump. Meanwhile, everyone else is turning to their home theatres, OnDemand and Netflix to see the films they aren’t getting at the multiplex. Amy thinks “With all of this, the real question should be, is this the end of theatregoing?”
 
Amy doesn’t think that it is – she believes that there’s something primal about seeing a film with other people, where “you can’t just pause it and get something from the refrigerator”, an experience in which “you have to surrender, almost, to what’s happening.” She sees the potential for a silver lining, in that theatres might focus on this other (older) demographic and ways to draw them out. She mentioned as examples Robert Redford’s attempts to broaden his Sundance vision into a theatre chain, and also talked about some bigger multiplex chains designating one theatre as the ‘indie screen’.
 
Amy wondered aloud about how things might shake out, feeling at times that her generation of filmmakers was the last to start out as fans of film when movie news was not followed so closely by a celebrity-fueled media such as Entertainment Weekly, Extra, or E!Online. Nowadays, when people can see the box office results on TV, scrolling at the bottom of CNN, she commented about how much more difficult it is for film audiences to have a pure film experience – watching a movie ‘fresh’, in a sense. Yet she still believes that there is a significant portion of the audience out there who do still want to experience that, but don’t know where or how to get it.
 
Where Chlotrudis Fits In
I mentioned to Amy how, after meeting her in Provincetown, Michael was struck by how quickly she had gotten what it was that Chlotrudis does. I asked her, what advice did she have for us, or what might she suggest to us as a next step to consider? She thought we already had a great online profile with our website, and was particularly interested when I told her that we were going to be adding a blog to the picture, as well. She thinks a key strength of the internet is that it allows anyone to help spread the word about films, or to continue and deepen conversation about film in general. The obvious next step connection in her mind would be to build associations or relationships with one or more small distributors, whether it be by linking to their trailers, or cross-promoting their films on the website as they mention the group on theirs – although she also noted that this could bring its own headache, by making groups such as Chlotrudis less independent.
 
Amy commented, though, that it’s hard to say what the landscape will look like in a few year’s time, with the industry (both mainstream and independent) in flux about how best to proceed in the areas of marketing and distribution. Whatever happens, her focus as always is on discovering, developing and producing great stories, and then finding the audiences who want to see them – one film at a time. I for one am going to keep an eye on whatever comes up next from Amy Robinson.
 
My thanks to Amy for taking time to speak with me. Check the Chlotrudis website in the coming months for more information about the Boston premiere of GAME 6.