Filmmakers find pleasure in Payne
Stories of people who find glory in the jaws of disenfranchisement — it’s not the catchiest logline, but it sums up the driving force behind husband-and-wife filmmakers Shari Berman and Bob Pulcini.
They first gained notice for the 1998 documentary “Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen’s” and their script “Esquivel,” the story of Las Vegas-based Mexican lounge singer Juan Garcia Esquivel to which director Alexander Payne is attached for Fox Searchlight.
Those projects also earned them the attention of Good Machine, whose co-partner, James Schamus, happened to be one of their professors at Columbia film school.)
However, it was Good Machine producer Ted Hope’s passion project that made the connection: Hope had long wanted to produce an adaptation of Harvey Pekar’s “American Splendor,” a narrative comicbook that detailed Pekar’s life as a struggling writer and a self-described “flunky file clerk” for a Cleveland VA hospital. Berman and Pulcini were tapped as the writer-directors.
“We seem to have a sensibility for fringe characters whose lives resonate on a level beyond a biopic, but rise to another level,” says Berman. “Harvey found salvation through the art of comicbooks.”
They plan to shoot the picture for Good Machine this fall.