This year’s Sundance winner, “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” is Geoffrey Fletcher’s first produced feature script (under pseudonym Damien Paul). “But the irony,” he says, “is that I feel like I’m a veteran at the same time.”
As a psych major at Harvard, he made noirs and docs. And as a graduate film student at NYU, he made short “Magic Markers” that caught the attention of both John Singleton and “Precious” director Lee Daniels, who asked him to adapt the Sapphire book.
“I thought that writing was not only a good way into the industry, but probably a good way to stay there,” says Fletcher, who was working as an adjunct professor at Columbia U. and NYU when Daniels came to him.
“‘Push’ is a very gritty book,” Daniels says. “And Geoffrey brought his elegance to it. It’s a woman’s story, but he wrote it in the way that a very elegant man would write it. He’s a very classy act.”
“Precious” is the story of an obese, teenage outsider — pregnant by her father, abused by her mother — that Fletcher had heard was grim, bleak and difficult. “I’d also heard that other writers had had a crack at it. But from the very first line of the book, it was crystal clear to me. Sometimes, a thing is just up your alley, and you don’t even know entirely why.”
Among Fletcher’s inventions is the male nurse played by Lenny Kravitz. “There’s maybe one sentence in the book that mentions this character,” he says. “But I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring in a male character that was positive.”
The scribe has been deluged ever since “Precious” took both the jury and audience awards in Park City. In addition to an adaptation job he can’t talk about, Fletcher is poised to have two scripts — “Violet and Daisy” and “Dreamers and Killers” — produced within the year.
HOMETOWN: Waterford, Conn.
INSPIRED BY: His parents and two older brothers; “The Godfather” (parts I and II), “The Bicycle Thief,” “Raging Bull,” “Jules & Jim,” “Dolemite”
UP NEXT: “Violet and Daisy,” a coming-of-age story about teenage hitgirls, for Wendy Finerman
REPS: Agent: Billy Hawkins (CAA); manager: Leslie Conliffe (IPG); attorney: George Sheanshang