The Dark Fields starring Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper and screenwriter Leslie Dixon!

DeNiro and Cooper; photo copyright Paul Froggatt / PR Photos

Robert DeNiro and Bradley Cooper on the set of "The Dark Fields"

The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn was one of my favorite books I read on the job for Miramax Films back in the heyday of literary development and now it’s in production as a major feature film starring Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro (from Rogue Pictures and Universal Pictures).  It’s been a long road for screenwriter/producer Leslie Dixon and she deserves a great big hit movie. Of course, she’s no stranger to hit movies with a resume that includes Hairspray, The Thomas Crown Affair and Mrs. Doubtfire.

But even for a hugely successful studio veteran, it was a struggle to get a green-light. It took her years to get this film made. And this is how she did it: when Miramax failed to green-light it, she took the material on her own and never gave up on it. There were several stops and starts, including a big break when Shia LaBeouf signed to star in the thriller [Variety: 4/13/08], but when Shia dropped out the film would have gone back into development hell if not for the tenacity of Leslie Dixon.

So, once again, I tell you…Don’t Give Up.

Harvey is great with ballsy, mouthy bitches like me… The deal was struck.

Since I only knew my side of the origin of this project — I was tasked to do two rounds of notes on the book, the first pre-publication and the second post-publication when there was a script treatment — I emailed Leslie Dixon in ’09 and asked her about her stint with Miramax.  Here was her reply…

“They had cut the previous writer off at treatment and had no interest in continuing with the project. I’d read the book for pleasure, found out who owned it, and realized, even if they put it up for turnaround, I might not succeed in acquiring it — someone like Scott Rudin might — and he certainly wouldn’t think of a chick to write a dark thriller. So I made Harvey a proposition. (I believe I actually wrote, knowing he’d love it, “This’ll get you in your Hassidic scrotum…!”) It was this: I’d do the script for scale if I had NO MEETINGS AND NO EXECUTIVE INPUT. A pure spec job. But the cheapest imaginable script from a name writer. Harvey is great with ballsy, mouthy bitches like me, and far from being offended, he was amused. The deal was struck.

And ironically, I did produce a script he wanted to make, but his company was going under, and the rights reverted to me. ”

So the “chick writer” got to write a dark, gritty Sci-Fi thriller in defiance of all movie studio tradition and kept fighting until it became a movie.

So here’s to Leslie Dixon and all the other ballsy, mouthy bitches out there who don’t take no for an answer!

-Dan Calvisi
http://actfourscreenplays.com

p.s. I highly recommend the book…

The Dark Fields” by Alan Glynn is a gritty, dark, fast-paced Thriller with Science Fiction undertones and a taut first-person voice set in a near-future Manhattan. The story concerns a young, struggling writer who takes a mysterious drug that gives him incredible mental powers and catapults him into a dangerous mentor relationship with a Wall Street trader who’s using him to predict the stock market. His meteoric rise is followed by a brutal fall, in which the ramifications of this wonder drug become all too frighteningly real for him and, possibly, for the world.

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