Ash Shah’s Silver Nitrate Entertainment has picked up feature rights to the book “The True History of the Elephant Man: The Definitive Account of the Tragic and Extraordinary Life of Joseph Carey Merrick” by Michael Howell and Peter Ford.

Merrick, whose life was portrayed in David Lynch’s 1980 film “The Elephant Man,” spent most of his life as a carnival freak due to physical deformities. He was hounded, persecuted and starving in a brutal Victorian world until his fortune changed when he was rescued and befriended by Dr. Frederick Treves.

Lynch’s film received eight Academy Award nominations and won three BAFTA awardss including Best Film and Best Actor for John Hurt.

“There is a whole generation of people who are unfamiliar with Merrick’s incredible story, having not been exposed to Lynch’s 1980 film,” said Shah. “We’re confident that an interesting filmmaker can bring this compassionate story to a whole new audience. Merrick’s life is a testament to what the human spirit can endure and what life truly should be.”

Silver Nitrate is a decade old production and distribution company. Recent productions include the SXSW entry “Small Apartments,” starring Matt Lucas, Billy Crystal, Johnny Knoxville and Juno Temple. Past releases include David Goyer’s debut “Auggie Rose”, Steve Buscemi’s “Animal Factory” and Sundance winner “God Grew Tired of Us” which was a joint acquisition with Newmarket Films.

Upcoming Silver Nitrate projects include the development of the Black List script “Message From the King” written by Stephen Cornwell and Oliver Butcher.