The director and screenwriter of “Field of Dreams” is back in Iowa this week, speaking to budding filmmakers at the University of Iowa. Men all across America who usually act tough as nails and void of emotion, freely admit they cry like babies at the movie for which Phil Alden Robinson is best known. Robinson says he recently got a letter from a man who said when his father died, he placed the tickets he’d saved from the movie in his father’s pocket and buried him with them. Back in 1988, Robinson says he and the crew had no idea the impact the movie they were making on a farm near the northeast Iowa town of Dyersville would have on the male psyche.
“We had no idea,” he says. “We would go to the field every day and it was like going to the office. There was a certain amount of drudgery in filmmaking and we’d go there and we’d swat the flies while we ate our lunch and we’d work in the heat and humidity and then we’d go home at night and get a few hours sleep, come back (and) do it again the next day so there was nothing glamorous about it. It wasn’t until the first time that we screened the film for an audience that we realized we had something so powerful.”
Robinson explains why he’s telling students in Iowa City they have a better opportunity to become filmmakers than he did a few decades ago. Robinson says it’s easier to get into the movie business today because it’s easier to make a film before you go into the business. In his day, you had to buy very expensive equipment, shooting on film, paying film processing costs and hiring an editing machine or facility.
“Today,” he says, “anybody with a home video camera and a computer can make a movie.” Plus, he says you don’t have the huge distribution costs with 35-milimeter film at a big theatre — you can put it on the Internet for free. Tonight at 8 o’clock at the U-of-I’s English-Philosophy Building, there are screenings of three of Robinson’s Sarajevo war documentaries, followed by a conversation with the filmmaker about the media, war and politics.