Funny Story For Half Nelson’s Fleck and Boden

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Like Half Nelson and Sugar before it, It’s Kind of a Funny Story is to be directed by Ryan Fleck and produced by Anna Boden from a screenplay that they wrote together. We knew the picture was in the works some time ago but The Hollywood Reporter is today announcing that Focus Features will “finance, produce and distribute” it. Of course, with the label ‘indie’ not in any way being related to independence, the film will ultimately be considered an ‘indie’ film. People sure do like that idea.

The Hollywood report lets us know that the film was previously being developed at Paramount, who appear to have placed it in turnaround, and is adapted from Ned Vizzini‘s novel of the same name that was published by Miramax Books. Interestingly, the novel is described as being for “young adults,” suggesting a possible shift of target for Fleck and Boden from the very adult-oriented material of their first two films. And yes, I know one of the two key protagonists in Half Nelson was a kid. It doesn’t change a thing. That film was aimed clearly aimed at an adult audience.

From the various synopses of the book scattering the internet it seems to me that this Funny Story is about a young man called Craig who becomes depressed and attempts suicide. The narrative then relocates to a mental hospital where Craig is able to confront the root of his depression and try to fight it.

Apparently, the $8 million budget for Funny Story should stretch to “a name-driven adult ensemble” with the teen characters being “discoveries”, ie. not likely to be stars of TV or Twilight. That’s encouraging – if nothing else, we might find some new talent here. Craig could be a star-making role for the Joseph Gordon-Levitt of tomorrow.

The original novel was written by Ned Vizzini, later a victim of some serious stalking by Gawker when he advertised specifically for a female assistant. According to an FAQ posted on Vizzini’s official site, the narrative in the book is 85% true to his own real-life experience. What did he alter? Apparently he changed the names of the characters, the age of Craig (his analog in the narrative) to 15 from the real-life 23, and added a love triangle.

Vizzini also claims that the characters “were based on real people” though in some cases he “changed races around, or combined two people into one character.” Beyond that? We’re to take it as truth.

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