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Travis Fine, The Space Between

Biography and Filmography

Travis Fine was born on June 26, 1968 in Atlanta, Georgia. He began his acting carrer on the stage at the early age of seven. When his family moved to Las Angeles when he was fifteen he enrolled at the Beverly Hills High School, where he graduated in 1986. He attended Pitzer College in Claremont, California for one year, but decided to devote himself full time to acting. In 1989, Fine got his big break when he landed a role on ABC’s new Western series The Young Raiders, also starring Melissa Leo (who would later star in The Space Between), Josh Brolin, and Stephen Baldwin. He would continue to play a role in the series until 1991. Upon selling his first screenplay The Lords of the Sea in 1994 to Howard Kochs (the famous Hollywood producer), Fine was hired to write episodes for the television series Diagnosis: Murder as well as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1994-1995). From 1995-1997, Fine was casted a role in the television series JAG. In1996, Fine attended New York Film Academy, where he wrote, produced, and directed several short films, and then in 1997 he wrote, produced, and directed his first full-length feature film The Others (1997). Fine then appeared in two feature films The Thin Red Line (1998) and Girl Interrupted (1999). In 2001, Fine left the film and television industry and began a career as an aviation pilot, which he had been anticipating for quite some time. In an artlicle he wrote for the Huffington Post in 2012, Fine says 

The events of 9/11 drove many people away from pursuing flying as a career. But, that day had a very different effect on me. After coping with the profound sense of sadness and loss, I became more determined than before that I was going to become an airline pilot. Suddenly, the thought of saying lines on some mediocre TV show seemed so pointless and empty compared to the responsibility of getting people safely to their destination in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

After getting his aviation license Fine began working for commercial airlines, and while working as a commercial aviation pilot Fine began constructing the screenplay for The Space Between (2010). His experiences as a pilot proved to be very inspirational for the script.  

[O]ne night… I was talking to my captain about 9/11. He was describing the day from his perspective as a pilot in the air… I asked him about the UM's (unaccompanied minors) who were flying that day. He told me a story he had heard about a young kid being stuck with a gate agent for a few days until they were able to get him back to his parents in New York. After that… I would write scenes and lines of dialogue for a script about a UM traveling on morning of 9/11.

In 2008, while Fine was still working as a pilot, he enrolled in UCLA's Professional Screenwriter's Program. Fine “hoped that the program at UCLA would help [him] to finally master the elusive art of great screenwriting.” Over the course of the 20-week program, Fine “managed to turn a bunch of loose scenes and dialogue into a script titled The Space Between.”

Soon after finishing the program, Fine left the commercial airline business to produce and direct his screenplay for The Space Between, which won The Best New York Narrative at the Tribeca Film Festival. Fine’s next film, Any Day Now (2012), won more than ten awards at independent film festivals. He is currently working on an untitled film project.

Exhibition and Distribution History: The Space Between

The film first premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in NYC on April 3, 2010. Between April 2010 and September 2011, the film was exhibited at several independent film festivals across the US. The film was never exhibited in a first-rate multiplex theater. On September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, The Space Between had its first US television premiere on the USA Network. It was then released on DVD on February 21, 2012.

Reception History: The Space Between

As of late February 2014, there has been no academic work published on the film; however, since its first exhibition in 2010there have been several reviews published in online entertainment magazines. There seems to be a consensus from most of the reviews that actress Melissa Leo, who plays the character of Montine McLoud, gave an excellent performance, but in terms of film form and narrative conventions, reviewers found it contrived and too neat. Robert Koeler from Variety Magazine says that the film navigates “several patches of narrative turbulence on the sheer strength of Melissa Leo’s lead performance.” Likewise, Richard Propes from theindependentcritic.com, who gave the film a B-, says

The problem with The Space Between isn't the performances, nearly all of which are absolutely fine. The problem is that Fine's script is so intentionally dramatic, so overtly formulaic and manipulative, that one is torn as to whether or not a tear or a chuckle is most appropriate. Virtually every stereotype of a cross-country road trip is here, especially the obligatory racism they will encounter traveling across the country as a wounded Americana struggles to cope with the gigantic punch to the gut that occurred on 9/11/2001.

Jason Bailey from DVDtalk, who seems to be in agreement with both Koeler and Propes, says of the film that it “takes a very good idea – a ground-level view of 9/11… and plugs it into yet another "road movie" structure… Which is not to say that there aren't things in it that work--it does, after all, star Melissa Leo, who couldn't play a false note if her life depended on it.”

David Hinckley, writing in the New York Daily News online edition had some more generally positive things to say about the film.

“Happy Endings" becomes a relative concept in almost any production about Sept. 11. Reconciliation often feels like a more realistic goal, and "The Space Between" explores that concept in a provocative way that sets it apart from anything else that's been out there… It's not perfectly executed. A few passages of dialogue are a little glib, a few occurrences a little too coincidental and a couple of resolutions seem a little tidy.

Even though Hickley does point to the film’s significance in so far as it treats the subject matter of reconciliation in relation to the events of 9/11, he still finds the narrative to be too “coincidental” and “tidy.”

Just as there have been very few reviews of the film contributed by web-based film critics, the film has not received much traction on IMDb or Amazon. The most logical explanation for both of these phenomena is the fact that the film was never exhibited in first-rate cinema and because Travis Fine is not much of a housel hold name. If Fine’s most recent film Any Day Now (2012), or his current untitled project once finished, land Fine more attention than did The Space Between, perhaps movie-goers will go back to The Space Between and give it a try. The other possible fate for the film would be that literary and film critics consider it as a valuable representation of 9/11 fiction. Because although there does seem to be a general consensus between most reviewers that actress Melissa Leo delivered an excellent performance, there has been virtually no discussion on the complexity of Montine’s character in the film or her complicated relationship to trauma and loss; and indeed, no critical attention has generated toward the film at all since its first exhibition and its DVD release.   

Works cited

Jason Bailey, “The Space Between.” DVD Talk. April 29, 2010.


Travis Fine, “The Forks in the Road That Lead to The Space Between.” The Huffington Post, November 29, 2012.


David Hinckley, “The Space Between' review: Middle-aged airline flight attendant and Pakistani child make odd couple.” New York Daily News. September 8, 2011.


Robert Koeler, “Review: The Space Between.” Variety Magazine. January 12, 2011.


Richard Propes, from theindependentcritic.com