Kimberly Peirce to Direct THE KNIFE, Based on the True Story of a Gang Banger Turned FBI Informant

     February 16, 2011

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Kimberly Peirce (Stop-Loss) has signed on to direct The Knife, a drama inspired by the true story of a South Central gang member who volunteered to be an informant for the FBI.  His services proved very valuable in the fight against lfkocal gang-related crime.

Universal Pictures first set up the project a couple years ago based on the 2008 GQ article “The Inside Man” by Guy Lawson.  Peirce and screenwriter Vineet Dewan worked on a 60-page scriptment and graphic novel that sold the studio on their take on the adult drama.  A key selling point: Peirce promises to deliver the film for less than $30 million.

Peirce spoke at length about the process: read her comments after the break.

Peirce talked to Deadline about why she and Dewan put the effort into the scriptment and graphic novel to pitch:

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“We spent about four months working for free to put this together, because directors and writers have to go in with a movie like this totally figured out. 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? A two-minute pitch isn’t good enough, and is there anything more mind-numbing than reading an outline?…

We walked in and said, here’s the movie, it will cost under $30 million. And we walked out with much more than a development deal. It also helped that The Town and Takers came in at $30 million or less and grossed over $100 million. The studio told us to move as fast as we can and that’s what we’re doing.”

I’m immediately hooked by the story.  I can already feel my fingernails digging into the armrests from the tension.  Peirce is understandably impassioned by the material:

“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? I love true undercover crime stories like On The Waterfront, The Departed and Donnie Brasco, but Hollywood is moving away from films like these.”

Click here to read the Guy Lawson article that inspired The Knife.

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