Monday, October 23rd, 2006
Based in Wilmington, North Carolina, filmmaker Rob Hill filmmaker is currently creating his second feature documentary after his first, The Fort Fisher Hermit, won Best Documentary Feature at the Hollywood DV Festival.
The Fort Fisher Hermit: The Life & Death of Robert E Harrill is about a man who “spent 17 years under the stars and scrub oaks of Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Surviving off the land and the contributions from thousands of visitors. During that time he became one of the area’s largest tourist attractions. But Robert’s life wasn’t as idyllic as he made it out to be, and his untimely death is marked by mystery and controversy.”
Rob cites Scott Davis as the person who has taught him the most about filmmaking. “I went to Scott for help producing my feature documentary, The Fort Fisher Hermit,” says Rob. “He had a great reputation and has been working in the film business for over twenty years. His hands on knowledge of filmmaking has been a wealth of invaluable information that has been major part of my growth as a director, and his insight of the world has made me a better filmmaker, husband, father and individual. He is a true mentor.”
Rob’s filmmaking style has been influenced by the documentarian Errol Morris. “He revolutionized the documentary form with The Thin Blue Line,” says Rob, “through combining straightforward interviews with stylized recreations adding big production value that had yet to be seen in the genre back then. I have patterned some elements of my filmmaking after Morris; influences always leave their mark. I’ve also been influenced by directors like Orson Wells and Stanley Kubrick in respects of how they created their own systems and infrastructures as filmmakers.” Rob also recommends the book Rebel without a Crew by Robert Rodriquez.
His second feature is about Jock Brandis and his “Full Belly Project”. When asked to help a friend serving on the Peace Corps in Mali, Africa, Jock noticed that the people in the village were planting cotton as a cash crop and shelling peanuts to feed their families. Jock knew that cotton was hard on the soil whereas peanuts would help replenish the soil if planted, but the villagers explained to Jock that they could not plant the peanuts because they were too hard to shell. Jock then set about finding a machine that would shell the peanuts for these villagers. After much research and actually having to help develop the machine, he returned a year later to give the machine to the villagers. “This feature documentary will follow Mr. Brandis as he attempts to fulfill the mission of his ‘Full Belly Project’ relieving hunger through appropriate agriculture technology,” says Rob.
In conclusion, Rob leaves us with two quotes for aspiring filmmakers, “William Goldman once said, ‘Nobody knows anything’, speaking of the film business. Orson Wells was asked if he felt Mr. Goldman was correct in saying so. He replied, ‘Absolutely. And the director is the man who presides over accidents!’”
If you would like to view Rob’s The Fort Fisher Hermit, it is available for purchase at www.thefortfisherhermit.com and will be having its broadcast premier on North Carolina Public Television in April 2007.