Peirce to direct FBI-gang film The Knife
Kimberly Peirce, who previously wrote and directed Boy's Don't Cry and Stop-Loss has been working on developing a film about the true life story of a South Central gang member who became an FBI informant and changed the gang scene forever, apparently being responsible for gangs imposing a policy of killing all snitches through his successful undercover work.
The film was shelved some time ago and Pierce, Brian Grazer and script writer Vineet Dewan picked up the project and have brought it to the point of being made into a feature.
The story was originally taken from an article in GQ in 2008 called The Inside Man which told the story of a member of the Crips gang who walked into an FBI office one day to offer his services as an informant. The man was young but was already worn down by the constant violence and killing around him, and wanted to do something about it.
He then worked for the FBI breaking open everything from murders to gun and drug deals resulting in the gang raising a policy of killing all those that turned informant on them, and all this time he kept working undercover.
The story from Deadline tells us that Kimberly Peirce and Vineet Dewan wrote a sixty page script for the story rather than a pitch or a short treatment in order to get it made, and it worked. It seems Dewan also made a graphic novel as well, although I'm not sure if this was part of the pitch or not, but both became an essential blueprint of the film itself.
The budget for The Knife is tight, but that doesn't seem to bother Peirce who worked for four months for free on the film, no mean feat when I'm sure her final take home pay will be comparable with someone working office and overtime every day. Ermm, I don't think so. What's interesting about that though is how much mainstream film making is becoming like independent film making.
"Many of my filmmaker and screenwriter friends tell me they've had to do the same. 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?"
Well that's usually the process outside of the big name Hollywood studio system isn't it? In fact most small film makers are struggling to get their film made and working for years without pay.
Anyway, not the point, let's get back to this story which does sound rather interesting. Peirce goes on to say of The Knife:
"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?"
It does sound and feel like a lot of films before it, but I don't think that matters a jot here. The idea of undercover work is one that can deliver a strong film and in a range from thriller to action, and there are so many titles you could list as references for the film.
Here the concentration seems to be on the relationship between handler and informant and the trust issue is going to be explored from both sides. It does sound interesting and there's a lot of scope for the project.