Kimberly Peirce Set to Direct South Central Crime Thriller 'The Knife'
Last time we heard about a new project from Kimberly Peirce, the Boys Don't Cry director was being set to direct an adaptation of Melissa Marr's dark fantasy novel Wicked Lovely. While the fantasy fare sounded like it would be an attempt to replace the giant void left by the coming conclusion of The Twilight Saga, the director's new project is nothing like that. Deadline reports Peirce has been set to direct The Knife a crime drama based on Guy Lawson's 2008 article in GQ about an undercover operation by a South Central gang member turned FBI informant who turned the gang world upside down and put the man's life in absolute danger.
Apparently the informant became so influential and effective in getting information for drug busts and weapons deals that the leaders of South Central's most notorious gangs put out an order to "kill all snitches." Pretty scary shit. As crazy as it sounds, the real-life Crips gang member simply walked into an FBI office to offer his services because he was worn down by the senseless crime and killing around him. Apparently Peirce and writer Vineet Dewan poured their heart into this project without even getting paid. Peirce says, "We spent about four months working for free to put this together, because directors and writers have to go in with a movie like this totally figured out." She elaborated even further on the difficulty of getting a project like this off the ground:
"You just have to look at it as the answer to the question, what do I have to do to get a good movie made? A two-minute pitch isn’t good enough, and is there anything more mind-numbing than reading an outline? I fell in love with the two characters and immediately saw a classic buddy movie with this rookie gang-banger and a hard-nosed FBI agent who have to overcome a mutual distrust. The agent wants to infiltrate the gang at a time when the FBI had no understanding of gang structure. They were effective but there are so many conflicts that play out, like can you be an informant without being a rat, to can you trust an informant if his reason for cooperating isn't that you will otherwise send him to prison for another crime he committed? I love true undercover crime stories like 'On The Waterfront,' 'The Departed' and 'Donnie Brasco,' but Hollywood is moving away from films like these. We walked in and said, here’s the movie, it will cost under $30 million. And we walked out with much more than a development deal. It also helped that 'The Town' and 'Takers' came in at $30 million or less and grossed over $100 million. The studio told us to move as fast as we can and that's what we're doing."
Sounds like some good advice for any writers/directors out there with great stories who are looking to get their projects off the ground. Honestly, it's extremely sad that an original story like this can't get off the ground without having an established toyline, comic book series or other intellectual property connected to it. With 2011 bringing the most sequels in any given box office year, I think audiences will soon be looking for more indie films, and original stories to see in theaters. The Knife certainly sounds like one of those compelling projects I'll need to cleanse my palette after this year of sequels. What do you think?