Creator Schrag to adapt coming-of-age tale

A correction was made to this article on Nov. 12, 2003.

Killer Films will develop a feature from Ariel Schrag’s autobiographical comicbook of modern teenage life, “Potential,” to be produced by company principals Christine Vachon and Katie Roumel and newly elevated development exec Jocelyn Hayes.

Schrag began self-publishing the comicbooks during her freshman year in high school, creating an unflinching chronicle of a young girl’s developing sense of sexuality and social identity as well as her accompanying obsessions with science class, unrequited love, grades and clothes.

The books quickly became a sensation in the world of underground comics, bringing Schrag mainstream attention. She continued to publish the comics with Slave Labor Graphics, released in book form to correspond with each year of high school.

” ‘Potential’ is one of the most insightful and painfully honest takes on teenage life I have read,” Vachon said. “Ariel is exactly the sort of young, cutting-edge writer that Killer loves to work with.”

Schrag will adapt the project, to be exec produced by John Wells, who funds Killer’s operations and was instrumental in setting up the Gotham-based shingle’s first-look deal with Warner.

Hayes discovered Schrag’s work while browsing in an East Village underground comic store and brought it to Killer.

“I was drawn to the cover of ‘Potential’ — a small girl alone in a huge forest — a perfect metaphor for high school life,” Hayes said. “Ariel’s stories have a cinematic feel to them, and they are essentially storyboarded. She uses the format to capture the melodrama, humor and pain of being a 21st-century teen in a very 21st-century way.”

Filling the gap created by the departure of Killer producer Bradford Simpson to head Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way banner, Hayes has been promoted from director of development to full producer at Killer. She joined the company in 2000 as a story editor and was promoted to development director in 2001.

Before Killer, Hayes was a development associate at Jane Startz Prods.

“Jocelyn has been managing development here and has been critical in the development of scripts like ‘Every Word Is True’ and ‘A Home at the End of the World,’ so it’s really time for her to move up and stretch her wings,” Vachon said.

In addition to “Potential,” Hayes will serve as a producer on Doug McGrath’s “Every Word Is True,” a biopic about the relationship between Truman Capote and the death-row “In Cold Blood” killers, currently being cast. Warner Independent Pictures will release both that pic and Colin Farrell starrer “A Home at the End of the World.”

“It’s an honor to go to producing school at Killer,” Hayes said. “Everyone works as such a team here, so I know I’ll get the support I need.”

Simpson’s exit this month and Hayes’ promotion turn Killer into an almost entirely female company in terms of its senior ranks, with the exception of godfather Wells. Principals are Vachon, Roumel and Pamela Koffler.

“That’s a pretty amazing thing in this industry,” Vachon noted.

Other key projects being developed by Hayes include fashionista Isaac Mizrahi’s directing debut, “The Extra Man”; and “Nearing Grace,” being adapted by Jacob Estes and directed by Rick Rosenthal. Latter feature will be the first co-prod on which Killer teams directly with John Wells Prods.

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