By Jen Vineyard | The Playlist May 29, 2012 at 9:58AM
The script by Black that is set for shooting, however, will be "The Barefoot Bandit," which David Gordon Green was slated to direct but is now getting a new director. ("I'm not going to say who it is until the deal is done, but it's someone exciting," Black teased). The story concerns the real-life case of Colton Harris-Moore, who started stealing at the age of eight, and as a teenager was accused of committing some 100 thefts in Washington, Idaho, and Canada, swiping bikes, cars, speedboats, and small aircraft. In the Pacific Northwest, he became a folk hero of sorts -- he even has a fanclub -- for stealing from the rich, even though he stole from the not-so-rich as well.
"I didn't start writing that one until he was caught," Black said. "I was researching it, and I was interested in it, but I didn't know him yet. I thought, 'What if he ends up not being the kid I think he might be? What if he's actually a sociopath? Or dangerous? How on earth am I going to write this thing then?'"
Harris-Moore's justification for stealing was that he had an abusive father who walked out on the family, and that his alcoholic mother raised him in the woods in a mobile home, using her disability checks on beer and cigarettes instead of food. So the teenager would steal his food from other people's homes or stores, and found a way to steal survival gear. He allegedly stole someone's credit card information to buy night vision goggles and bear mace in one incident. His crimes escalated to stealing transportation to break into homes on nearby islands, and snagging an assault rifle from a deputy's car, which made police consider him "armed and dangerous."
Once Harris-Moore was captured, Black had access to him in prison, got to know him, and was satisfied. "When you meet him, you get it," the screenwriter said. "You understand what he was up against, and that he was just surviving in the extreme, and it just got more extreme because he's goddamn brilliant. He's so smart." Plus, more importantly, "He didn't hurt anybody," Black said. "I would have backed out of the project if he had.
Black said the ending of the story, Harris-Moore's capture and sentencing -- true to life -- will be "cinematic and moving." "The judge who sentenced him started out by saying, 'This is a story of the triumph of the human spirit,'" Black said, "And I agree. I get tearful just talking about him."
Other than that, Black has one more "big" project for Universal in the works that he can't reveal just yet, but that's it for now. "I think that's enough!" he laughed.
"Virginia" is now playing limited release.