EXCLUSIVE: Kimberly Peirce, who helmed Boys Don’t Cry and most recently the Sony/MGM remake Carrie with Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore, is about as gutsy a female director as you’ll find this side of Kathryn Bigelow. She has signed on to tackle The Brand, a hard edged drama scripted by Alessandro Camon (The Messenger), based on a 2004 New Yorker article by David Grann. The film is about the notorious Aryan Brotherhood prison gang. Despite seeing leaders consigned to solitary confinement in the most secure prisons, the gang still managed to control drug dealing, prostitution and other crimes in maximum security prisons, setting policy and ordering killings through secret communication modes that were akin to morse code.
The article focused on the pursuit of the gang by U.S. Attorney Gregory Jessner, who tried 40 of the gang’s top leaders. They were already looking at long prison stretches for violent crimes, and the prosecutor tried to get them the death penalty for all of the violence they ordered or carried out. Though small in size, “The Brand,” as they were called, had achieved dominance in prison through a highly sophisticated operation, based on rigid hierarchy, ruthless violence, and secret communication codes. The gang started small in San Quentin, but the effort to split up the leaders by moving them to “supermax” prisons in the 1970s and 1980s spread the influence of the gang all over the place. Among the characters that will figure in the movie is a brawny gang member who was so disgusted by the practice of threatening prisoners with violence to loved ones that he bailed on the gang and then tried to stay alive knowing he might be killed at any moment. The rise of the Aryan Brotherhood will be chronicled through the eyes of a young recruit who rises through the ranks and eventually defects.
Ric Roman Waugh did the first draft of the script, but Camon did the rewrite and the project is in the process of gathering production financing. Film 360 is producing with Identity Films’ Anthony Mastromauro and Entendre Films’ Danielle Pelland. Entendre has been financing development.
Peirce is repped by CAA and attorney Alan Wertheimer, Camon by Matt Leipzig of Original Artists.