Local filmmaker debuts, "Live Free or Die"
Native New Englander Andy Robin makes people laugh for a living. He is so successful at it that his comedy feature film "Live Free or Die," co-written with Gregg Kavet, won the Jury Award for Best Film at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, this past March. The film will have its New England premier at the Newport Film Festival next week at the Opera House on June 7 at 9 p.m. The feature was presented closing night at the Gen Art Film Festival in New York last month, and is lined up for other independent film festivals across the country.
"It's loosely based on a lot of different people we knew growing up," Robin said about the film. "It has a big New England feel to it." Robin went on to describe the film as "in-yourface" comedy, largely appealing to the under-30 crowd. The lead character, cowardly John "Rugged" Rudgate, is a smalltown criminal with a shallowbrained partner in crime, Robin noted. The feature was filmed on location in New Hampshire and Vermont.
A Harvard University graduate, Robin said he gave himself a year after college to get into writing for television. Robin got his first big break writing for the TV show Saturday Night Live back in the early 1990s. There he met comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who was hosting the show. "I pitched some episode ideas to him and they were accepted," Robin said. He then went on to become a staff writer for the Seinfeld television comedy series for six years. Robin lived in Los Angeles for 10 years, and then moved to New Hampshire to "escape L.A."
Robin, who grew up in Connecticut, lives in Pawtucket with his wife and two children. He and his family spend their summers in Jamestown at their cottage on Elm Street. Robin said
that he, his wife and their two children used to "set up camp" every summer at his aunt and uncle's house on the island. "We went to Mackerel Cove every day," he said, noting that they spent so much time here that they decided to find a small place of their own. "We love it here," Robin said, adding that they can "walk everywhere, to town, even to Mackerel Cove."
"Jamestown is an evocative place," he said about the island. He described Jamestown as a popular place with a small-town feeling, and talked about using elements of the island in his future writing. "I have a lot of respect for writers who set their novels in small towns. They are a microcosm of the world," he noted.
Last year, Robin published a how-to book entitled, "Saving Face: How to Lie, Fake and Maneuver Your Way out of Life's Most Awkward Situations." He described it as practical advice for just about any situation imaginable when one finds himself saying the wrong thing, "like asking a lady when she's due when she isn't pregnant."
Robin also has co-written two more movies, "The Mikes," which is scheduled to premier in December of this year, and "Bee Movie," an animated film expected to be in theaters next year. He plans to continue pitching more ideas to Hollywood in the future.
Robin mentioned that he is looking for a theatrical release for "Live Free or Die" later this year or next year. When asked if he had any words for his audience, Robin said, "Please come see the movie. And if you own a distribution company, contact me and I'll send you free tickets."