Universal Studios has optioned the 2010 documentary Marwencol, with Robert Zemeckis developing the drama as his next directorial project, with Caroline Thompson (co-writer of fantastical scripts like Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas) working on the script. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the deal also includes the rights to Mark Hogancamp’s life story.
Marwencol, directed by Jeff Malmberg, tells the story of Hogancamp, who was left in a coma for nine days after suffering a near-fatal beating at a Kingston bar 13 years ago, and his efforts to cope with severe memory loss by building a one-sixth scale model of a World War II-era Belgian village in his backyard. Hogancamp’s attention to detail didn’t just cover the impressive era-accurate uniforms, weaponry and vehicles, but also sometimes included images of his own face, as well as those of his friends and even his attackers. Marwencol also included scenes of Hogancamp’s immersion in the New York art scene, though he’s also displayed his nuanced photography locally at One Mile Gallery at 475 Abeel Street.
Janet Hicks and Eddie Mullins are the co-owners of One Mile Gallery, and they agreed to answer questions via e-mail about Hogancamp, the feature film announcement, and his upcoming show. “Saving the Major” opens at One Mile Gallery on Saturday, Nov. 2.
What is it that draws people to Hogancamp’s work? Hicks and Mullins feel it works on many layers.
“There are a lot of things,” Hicks and Mullins replied. “First and foremost is the unique quality of the photographs. His compositions are always very precise and has a great eye for detail. Then there’s the narrative aspect of his work. Mark thinks of himself as one-sixth-scale filmmaker creating ‘movies’ out of still frames. Each photograph is part of a larger story network, and that connectedness tends draws people in as well. Lastly, there’s Mark’s personal backstory, which invites viewers to see his oeuvre as a vehicle for working through hardship.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter story, the plan for the feature film is for fantasy and reality to blend together from scene to scene. But at the heart of the story is Hogancamp, which the owners of One Mile feel will be the real selling point.
“Everyone likes a story about an individual triumphing over adversity,” replied Hicks and Mullins. “It’s the bread and butter of Hollywood filmmaking, and Mark’s story exemplifies that magnificently.”
It’s also part of what appeals to Hicks and Mullins as gallery owners. The pair have represented Hogancamp for the past “couple of years,” and they hosted his first public show, Crash Landing, in December 2012.
“Mark is an unbelievably creative person who is also something of a workaholic, so there is always fresh material,” replied the pair. “The universe of Marwencol expands constantly — adding new characters, new storylines, etc. — so that at times it can be hard just to keep up. It’s wonderful to work with someone who is at once so prolific and enthusiastic.”
Hicks and Mullins added that they’re not surprised Hollywood was interested in telling Hogancamp’s story, especially after the critical and commercial success of Marwencol.
“Director Jeff Malmberg did such a beautiful job telling Mark’s tale in the 2010 documentary Marwencol,” they replied. “The only surprise is that it didn’t happen sooner.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Malmberg has been attached to the project as executive producer; though no casting has been made, the same story credited sources with saying Zemeckis, director of Back to the Future and Forrest Gump, was hoping to bring in Leonardo DiCaprio to play Hogancamp.
News of the planned feature film has had ripple effects felt in Kingston, with “Saving the Major” expected to garner considerable attention this week.
“Mark has always had a strong and consistent following,” wrote Hicks and Mullins. “But we did have an uptick in orders this week.”
At present there is no indication as to when Zemeckis’ film is planned for release.