Magazine article Variety

Scribe Dodges Danger on Way to Screen Credit

Magazine article Variety

Scribe Dodges Danger on Way to Screen Credit

Article excerpt

TALENT WATCH

When the studio asked Jason Keller to sign up for kidnapping and dismemberment insurance before traveling to Sudan to research his script for "Machine Gun Preacher," they weren't kidding around.

"You couldn't go anywhere without seeing whole villages that had been razed to the ground and the burned out hulks of tanks and trucks on the side of the road, the remnants of an ambush," says Keller, who went there to get a firsthand look at the Children's Village orphanage run by biker-turned-minister Sam Childers (played by Gerard Butler in the film).

Last fall's release of "Preacher" not only helped bring the plight of conscripted Sudanese children to light, it gave Keller his first screen credit. During the preceding 10 years, he'd made a good living with a series of sales, options and assignments that included a $1.4 million payday from New Line Cinema for his spec "Sugar's Sweet Science of Bruising" in 1999, but nothing got a greenlight.

As frustrating as it was, the 43-yearold scribe thinks he benefited from those years in development hell.

"I wasn't sure I was ever going to have a movie made," says Keller, who lives in L.A. with his wife, actress Kristin Dattilo, and their two daughters (ages 1 and 4), "so the screenplay became the art form for me. …

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