A Fine Line

A Fine Line

Oscar-nominated filmmakers Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine strike a balance between tragedy and beauty.

By Gerry Boyle '78 | Photos by Abbie Trayler-Smith

Above, Andrea Nix Fine ’91 during filming of an Inuit polar bear hunt in the Arctic. Andrea Nix Fine ’91 during filming of an Inuit polar bear hunt in the Arctic.

Andrea Nix arrived at Colby from upstate New York, where she attended public school and played the flute, among other musical endeavors. “It was a good high school, but it didn’t have philosophy or political science or studio art or poetry,” she recalled. “[At Colby], I did all that. I did as much as I could.”

She advises aspiring filmmakers to do what she did, which was to dig into as many different academic areas as possible and to concentrate on improving her writing. “Be able to articulate your ideas and express yourself, because if you can’t do that, no one’s going to make your movie,” Nix Fine said.

It was senior year that she discovered that filmmaking “just made me spark.”

Her group in Mannocchi’s class made a VHS video on the effect of television on young children. They drove to Boston to interview an expert in the field and pieced together clips of kids’ TV. “Looking back on it, it was more the process than what we made,” she said. “I loved that you had to combine aspects of visual ideas mixed with writing, mixed with just getting something done.”

After graduation, Nix Fine turned the spark into a flame.

She moved back to upstate New York and got a job at the local public television station, for minimum wage, she said, “and just started hammering away.”

That job led to a position at National Geographic, where she worked for a decade, moving steadily up the ladder. As a producer, director, and writer, she has worked all over the world, often in remote locations, from Africa to Greenland.

“My dream has been that, before I died, I’d see a kid from my class win an Oscar.”

Phyllis Mannocchi, Professor of English

“Andrea has done such cool stuff,” her husband said. “You’re talking about a person who went to the Arctic and they were starving.” In fact, Nix Fine accompanied Inuit hunters on a two-week excursion traveling by dogsled, and the group did run out of food, causing the hunters to mutiny against their leader.

“You get put into all these amazing situations,” she said, noting that she has avoided one of the occupational hazards of her profession: “I’ve been incredibly lucky. I have somehow avoided major parasite problems.”

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