This movie isn’t due out 'til 2007, but it’s an unusual experience for me, so I thought I’d give it a mention.
Into the Wild is a non-fiction account of Chris McCandless, who died trekking along the Stampede trail in Alaska, back in '92.
Chris and I were good friends in college. After his death, I was interviewed about him for an article in the New Yorker magazine, and then was surprised to learn of the book accounting his story written by Jon Krakauer, more famously known for Into the Blue and Under the Banner of Heaven. Frankly, I suspect Chris would be some combination of pissed and bemused at the prospect of the publicity, but, well, he’s got no say at this point.
As freshmen in college, back in '86-'87 we filmed this goofball horror spoof called The Coming of Cthulhu, mostly ad-libbed, and used as an excuse to chat up some coeds used as Chthulhu’s victims in the film. Chris was the protagaonist and is on camera through most of the video. I gave a VHS copy of the tape to his family at his memorial service back in '92.
I hadn’t thought much about these events over the last 10 years, but just last week I was contacted by a hollywood research company asking for me to authorize use of my video footage to be adapted and re-created by Sean Penn for the upcoming film, as Penn will also be directing.
I made a point of contacting Chris’ sister before acquiescing. Penn has apparently been pursuing the project for 10 years, but has not pushed the McCandless family out of respect for their wishes. Everytime Krakauer publishes another bestseller, the family gets more inquiries about film or TV rights to Chris’ story. At this stage, Chris’ sister would rather Penn make the film before some hack goes and makes a production without the family’s input.
I’m about to sign off on the release, I’ve got no interest in angling for anything out of the movie studio. It’s just a bit surreal to hear that Penn and this movie studio have been poring over this ridiculously corny video tape.