A onetime Weekly contributor has written the film adaptation of Ruta Sepetys' New York Times best-selling World War II-era novel Between Shades of Gray.
It's Ben York Jones, the screenwriter, sometime actor and former music video director who blogged right here on this blog from the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
The Chapman University film school grad and former Corona del Mar resident was at the festival that year with Like Crazy, a film he co-wrote with his childhood friend and director, Drake Doremus (formerly of Santa Ana and Newport Beach). Like Crazy was Sundance's big U.S. Dramatic prize winner that year, providing Jones a perfect Hollywood ending (literally!) to his blogs.
Of course, Jones and Doremus were already Sundance veterans by then, as the year before Douchebag, which Jones starred in and Doremus co-wrote and directed, was a nominee for the same U.S. Dramatic prize. It was the first Doremus film to get accepted by the Park City, Utah, festival. His first feature, Spooner (starring Foothill High grad Matthew Lillard), premiered over the hill at Slamdance in Salt Lake City in 2009.
Jones, who co-wrote Doremus' last film Breathe In, collaborated with Like Crazy producer Marius Markevicius for his latest project, which is seeking a new title to avoid confusion with EL James' Fifty Shades of Grey. Published in more than 40 countries and 26 languages, Between Shades of Gray tells the story of a 15-year-old aspiring artist who is deported to Siberia during Joseph Stalin's cleansing of the Baltic region during World War II.
"It's amazing that the atrocities of Stalin and the Siberian mass deportations are still a relatively unknown and untold part of history. We hope to change that with this film," Markevicius says in a statement picked up by The Hollywood Reporter.
"I'm also thrilled to once again collaborate with Ben York Jones on this adaptation," continues the director, who also co-produces. "Ben has an incredible ability to capture raw emotion and young love in his writing and those two elements will be the key drivers in our film."
The film has been optioned by Sorrento Productions and Tauras Films. Financiers are being sought at Berlin's European Film Market, which started Thursday and continues through this coming Sunday. Shooting is planned later this year.
Meanwhile, Breathe In, which already had its theatrical and home entertainment release in the U.K., is scheduled to open in the States on March 28.
To refresh your memory, it stars Like Crazy co-star Felicity Jones as a musical British exchange student who creates sparks with a frustrated musician-turned-piano teacher (Guy Pearce), who is also the married father of the Upstate New York family hosting the Brit.
To give Breathe In a right proper American push, there's a new trailer …
… and new poster: