About The Film

Robert E. Harrill, The Fort Fisher Hermit, 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, he became one of the areas largest tourist attractions.

But, Robert's new life wasn't as idyllic as he made it out to be, and his untimely death is marked by mystery and controversy.

The Fort Fisher Hermit; The Life & Death of Robert E. Harrill, a documentary by Rob Hill and narrated by Barry Corbin, explores this unique individual through a series of interviews, photographs and vintage film footage. Common Sense Films of Wilmington North Carolina has spent eighteen months developing a documentary that captures the spirit of this unique individual. Common Sense Films came together in January of 2002 when Rob Hill and Bryan Mahoney rediscovered this local legend. Nate Panning, having just completed a short film with Rob, joined the team and Scott Davis was asked to oversee the production.

After much research and meeting with local historians, Common Sense Films began collecting interviews over a 10-month period that took them through North and South Carolina. By December of 2002 they had collected almost 25 hours of interviews of those who knew Robert Harrill, over 200 photographs, an audio interview recorded in 1967, as well as a collection of 8mm home movies.

“We are ecstatic over the amount of visual documentation that has been collected” said Scott Davis. “Robert Harrill has to be the most photographed homeless person in history,” added Bryan Mahoney.

In May of 2003, Richard Sirianni of Mulberry Street Entertainment came onboard as Executive Producer, bringing with him a fresh eye and nearly 25 years of industry contacts. After an additional three months of editing, Mr. Sirianni began the arduous task of raising the completion funds and marketing the film to broadcast networks and distributors.

2004 began with acceptances into numerous film festivals around the country including Asheville Film Festival, Reel to Real Festival, The Cucalorus Film Festival and taking home Best documentary at the Hollywood DV Festival.

Since securing finishing funds last fall, Common Sense Films has signed Barry Corbin for the narration. Award winning composer Kinny Landrum has composed what some have described as the perfect compliment to the tome and timber of this piece. Alex Markowski, with NorthStar Sound rounds out the audio post with superb effects and natural sound works as well as the final audio mastering. Lulu.com is partnering with Common Sense Films on the distribution of the DVD. Together they’re creating a working business model on the self-promotion and self-distribution, both wholesale and retail, of this film that will be applicable to all independent filmmakers.

With the film complete as of March 24th 2006 Common Sense Films kicks off its distribution plan where it all started. The North Carolina Aquarium Fort Fisher has accepted the use of the film in their ongoing fundraising projects. Plans include a membership screening and ongoing screenings throughout the summer. The hermit bunker is located just south of the aquarium. Common Sense Films could think of no better place to begin distribution. Local and regional retail partners are encouraged and the DVD is always available at this site.


Photos Courtesy Fred Pickler
All other content © 2006-2007 Common Sense Films

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The Fort Fisher Hermit