The script is written by attorney-turned-screenwriter Jay Paul Deratany, based on his experiences as a litigator in Chicago. The film follows Modine’s character, who’s at the center of a trial revolving around a for-profit corporation, contracted by the state to provide foster children safe homes, that places a known sex offender into a foster home with other clients — with catastrophic results. Jones plays the judge and McGhie portrays the plaintiff.
“Foster Boy,” which begins shooting Monday in Los Angeles, is directed by Youssef Delara, whose credits include “Filly Brown,” “The Bounce Back,” and “English as a Second Language.” It’s produced by Deratany, Peter Samuelson, Anne-Marie Mackay, and Andrew Sugerman. John Schimmel, Thom and Matt Lipari, Max Adler and Danny Mooney are the executive producers. “Foster Boy” has been entirely financed by equity investment.
Deratany and Samuelson hope the film will help raise awareness of the challenges faced by youth in foster care. The duo cites recent studies showing that less than 3% of foster youth go on to earn a college degree; and that of the 20,000 youth who age out of foster care annually, more than half become homeless, incarcerated, on drugs, or on welfare within two years.
“There are an estimated 400,000 children in foster care in America,” Deratany noted. “They are basically unrepresented, with few ways to shape their destinies. Why? One simple reason: they are children. They have no money and they have no voice. It’s not that they are bad kids. Our system is broken.”
Deratany met Samuelson several years ago while the latter was teaching a class on social impact filmmaking at the University of California at Riverside. Samuelson’s producing credits include “Arlington Road,” “Wilde,” and “Revenge of the Nerds.” He’s also become an advocate of dealing with foster children through First Star, which he co-founded in 1995. He operates First Star Academies to house, educate, and encourage high school-age foster youth on 13 university campuses.
“Foster children are the last great civil rights victims in America,” Samuelson added. “After 25 years, I thought I had retired from producing, but Jay’s script was too compelling and too important.”
Jones has won Emmys for “Gabriel’s Fire” and “Heat Wave,” Tonys for “Fences” and “The Great White Hope,” an honorary Academy Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. He voiced Darth Vader in the Star Wars films, and Mustafa in the animated “The Lion King” and in Jon Favreau’s upcoming remake. Modine’s credits include “Full Metal Jacket,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “47 Meters Down,” and Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”
McGhie beat out 400 actors for the gig. He previously appeared in the independent film “Victor” and the TV series “Rebel.”
The production is partnered with the charities Children’s Rights of New York, the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego, and First Star of Los Angeles.