Writer/producer James Schamus will make his directorial debut with his adaptation of the 2008 Philip Roth novel “Indignation,” he announced today, along with the film’s producer Anthony Bregman. The film is set to shoot Summer 2015 in New York.
Last October, Schamus was ousted from his post as CEO of Focus Features (many decried this as the “end of independent film”). As a screenwriter, Schamus has worked repeatedly with Ang Lee; his credits include: “The Ice Storm,” “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” As producer, he’s worked on “Brokeback Mountain,” “Lost in Translation,” “Milk,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “The Pianist” and more.
Founder and partner in the highly respected New York based production company Good Machine, Schamus went on to co-found and serve as CEO of Focus Features for many years, overseeing numerous award-winning films through release. He is also a Professor in Columbia University’s School of the Arts.
“It’s been two decades since I met and first started working with James, and I’ve noticed that he’s still figuring out what he wants to be when he grows up,” said Bregman in a statement. “But in the process, he’s used his boundless creative energy to build two landmark companies, produce dozens of visionary films, and write brilliant, acclaimed screenplays. His adaptation of Philip Roth’s powerful novel is a delight on its own, and his new shift to directing is a tantalizing prospect for anybody who loves movies.”
“Indignation” is set in 1951, and it tells the story of Marcus Messner, a butcher’s son from Newark, N.J., who leaves home to attend a small and conservative school in Ohio. There, he finds himself at odds with the school’s administration and anti-semitism. There’s also a romantic subplot, where Marcus falls for an emotionally troubled girl.
In a statement, Schamus said, “Marcus Messner is an extraordinary character, heartbreakingly open and alive, and Anthony Bregman is an extraordinary producer, heartstoppingly economical; bringing them together for my first feature as a director is as felicitous a match as I could ever hope for.”
Roth’s novel “The Humbling” has also recently been adapted for the screen, directed by Barry Levinson; starring Al Pacino and Greta Gerwig. That one will get a wide release in 2015.