nys writers logo


Director of Sum of All Fears & Field of Dreams

NYS Writers Institute, October 3, 2002
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Standish Room, Science Library
7:00 p.m. Film screening and Presentation| Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., Downtown Campus


Phil Alden Robinson/photo by Judy AxensonUnion College graduate Phil Alden Robinson's most recent film, The Sum of All Fears (2002), stars Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman in a thriller about nuclear terrorism. Based on the Tom Clancy novel of the same name, the film tells the story of CIA operative who must foil a plot by European Neo-Nazis to provoke nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia. Paramount selected Robinson, director of the all-time favorite baseball movie Field of Dreams (1989), in the hope that Robinson would bring greater dramatic depth and a more surprising style to the well-worn action genre. The unorthodox choice of director generated a great deal of news in the entertainment industry.

Carol King and Phil Robinson/photo by Judy Axenson"ranks as the best screen adaptation of a Clancy novel. . .a slick well-oiled machine, exquisitely polished and upholstered." - The Dallas Morning News

"Director Phil Alden Robinson and his writers. . .do a spellbinding job of cranking up the tension [and] create a portrait of convincing realism. . ." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Robinson, who majored in Political Science at Schenectady's Union College, began his broadcasting career as an intern for local television station WRGB and radio station WGY. As a result of a recommendation from Amsterdam, NY Congressman Sam Stratton, Robinson spent the Vietnam War as a member of the Motion Picture Unit of the U.S. Air Force. His military service led to subsequent civilian work making dozens of industrial and educational films.

Phil Robinson/photo by Judy AxensonIn the early 1980s, Robinson broke into screenwriting for commercial television with two episodes of the M*A*S*H spin-off, "Trapper John, M.D." In 1984, twoscreenplays were made into major motion pictures: All of Me, Starring Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin, and Rhinestone, starring Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone. Robinson recalls the making of All of Me as a thoroughly positive experience, important to his growth as a filmmaker. Rhinestone, thoroughly rewritten by Stallone, was a good deal more frustrating.

In 1987, Robinson co-wrote and made his directorial debut with In the Mood, starring Patrick Dempsey. The film dramatizes the true headline-making story of the Woo Woo Kid, a fifteen year old who runs into trouble with the law during the 1940s because of his romantic relationships with much older women.

Robinson achieved international stardom, however, with the making of Field ofDreams (1989), a lyrical, surreal baseball film that is usually ranked as one of the greatest sports movies ever made. The film was nominated for Best Picture. Robinson, who based the film on the novel Shoeless Joe (1980) by W. P. Kinsella, was also nominated for Best Screenplay. The film took a third nomination for Best Score by James Horner.

Robinson co-wrote Sneakers, a computer hacker caper, starring Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd and River Phoenix, with the Oscar-nominated screenwriters of Wargames (1983), Walter Parkes and Lawrence Lasker. Redford plays the chief of an oddball team of technical geniuses blackmailed by U.S. government agents into stealing a top-secret decoding device. Ex-CIA agent and technology expert John Strauchs participated in numerous script rewrites. The Washington Post called the film, "enormously entertaining."

Phil Alden Robinson is the co-chair of the Writers Guild of America Screenwriters Council.

Other work by Phil Robinson:

posterposterSneakerspostersum of All Fears





For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.