Last season, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden had a career year -- the kind most young filmmakers dream about when they're first starting out. Thanks, in part, to a superb Oscar-nominated performance by Ryan Gosling, their Half Nelson went from tiny indie film to major awards contender in the span of only a few months. Now, Fleck and Boden are looking for another break-out performance -- this time, they're heading to the Dominican Republic to find a star. The two will write and directSugar, to be produced by Journeyman Pictures and Hunting Lane Films (the two shingles behind Nelson), with HBO Films possibly interested in coming onboard as well.
Pic will delve into the world of minor league baseball, shown through the eyes of a young Dominican prospect snatched from his home country and brought to the United States to play ball. Though the film will be based on a fictional character named Miguel "Sugar" Santos, there's no doubt Fleck and Boden will look to expose the often shady world of baseball scouting by taking an innocent kid and dropping him in a cutthroat, competitive environment. With production set to begin later this summer, Fleck and producers are currently searching for their cast (which could include nonpros) and scouting locations in the Midwest and Dominican. Aside from Sugar, Fleck and Boden have also signed on to write and direct It's Kind of a Funny Story for Paramount.
Not many films take us inside the world of minor league baseball, especially from the vantage point of a foreigner asked to compete with and against a group of guys who have been training their entire lives to land a spot on one of these teams. Fleck chose a very claustrophobic style for Half Nelson, partly because the majority of scenes took place indoors -- thus, I'll be curious to see if he spreads things out a bit now, utilizing the open-aired environment of a baseball diamond as his canvas. Needless to say, I cannot wait for this one.