For the first time ever, a David Sedaris story will become a movie. “C.O.G.” — a short story from Sedaris’ best-selling 1997 essay collection Naked — will begin production in October from writer-director Kyle Patrick Alvarez, who won the “Someone To Watch” Indie Spirit Award for his 2009 directorial debut “Easier Than Practice.”
“C.O.G.” is based on Sedaris’ experiences in his late 20s when he went to go work as an apple picker in the orchards of Oregon. Once there he found himself at odds with the locals and the religious right. Among them: Curly, a factory worker with nefarious intentions; Hobbs, the curmudgeonly farm owner; and Jon, a one-legged veteran evangelist who takes David under his wing.
“I always thought there was something cinematic about this story,” Alvarez said. “So after I finished ‘Easier With Practice,’ I started pursuing it. But everyone was like ‘No, no, thanks for trying.'”
So Alvarez decided to go one of Sedaris’ book readings and give him a copy of “Easier Than Practice.” A few months later, Sedaris wrote him an e-mail saying that he liked the movie and was interested in why Alvarez wanted to turn “C.O.G.” into a movie. Alvarez — who admittedly has idolized Sedaris for years — spent all night writing him back with a six-page e-mail.
“He ending up saying yes, and he’s been incredibly gracious and supportive ever since,” Alvarez gushed.
That may seem surprising given Sedaris’ rather adamant refusal to allow his work to be adapted for film in the past. But as Alvarez explains, there’s a simple element to “C.O.G.” that makes it an exception to Sedaris’ rule.
“He’s always had a history of saying ‘no’ to protect his family,” he said. “But this story doesn’t include his family at all in it.”
The story does, like most of his work, include Sedaris himself as a main character. Alvarez said he’s being extremely cautious to avoid trying to simply impersonate him in the film.
“I’ve tried to capture his tone and spirit, instead of recreating it,” he said. “I feel like he does it so well. His audio books are among the best of all time. Why would I try and recreate that? I’m just going to do my own thing and he’s been so supportive of that.”
Sedaris has been meeting with Alvarez whenever he comes through Los Angeles and discussing the director’s process so far.
“It’s one of these perfect situations,” Alavrez said. “It’s put me in this place where I’ve been very specific about the film and more particular and stubborn that usual because he’s trusting me so much,.”
Shooting on the film begins in October, and Alvarez and his team (which includes producers Cookie Carosella and Stephen Nemeth) are going to start casting soon.
“It’s been generating a lot of ineterst because of the Sedaris name and we’re definitely giong to be casting somewhat ambitiously,” he explained. “It’s kind of episodic and there are so many parts for character actors that I’m really excited about casting.”
Alvarez said he expects to complete the film in the first quarter of 2013, so Sedaris fans can likely expect their first glimpse at his work on screen sometime later that year.