EXCLUSIVE: A Child’s Night Dream, the novel that Oliver Stone wrote at age 19, has been adapted and will be directed by his son, Sean Stone. Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films CEOs Randall Emmett and George Furla have green lit the film for an April production start. Stone wrote the novel long before he won three Oscars in a distinguished career as director and writer, and even before he served as an infantryman in Vietnam, getting wounded twice in combat and winning the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and other medals, experiences that informed his Best Picture and Best Director-winning film Platoon.
Stone wrote the novel while returning on a steamer ship from his first stint in Vietnam, when he served as a teacher in a Roman Catholic school in Saigon. The original novel was informed by those experiences, and his rebellious decision to turn his back on a privileged upbringing and an Ivy League education, with a sense of adventure that would lead him to enlist in the Army for a second tour in Vietnam. Stone got a bunch of rejection letters for the novel — he reportedly was so upset he threw portions of the manuscript in the East River — but he later pieced it together for publication.
Stone’s son Sean has changed the time frame but kept the coming-of-age aspects of his father’s novel. The protagonist, Chris, is a teen who leaves college to enlist in the Army shortly after the 9/11 attack, despite protests from his parents.
Measuring up as a director as the son of an icon like Stone isn’t easy, especially since the younger Stone plans to do it with a book that his father wrote when he was a rebellious teen trying to find his footing. The younger Stone has slowly been building toward this, for a long time. First off, he told Deadline he has been writing this adaptation since he was 15 years old (he’s now 31). Stone got his first taste of the movie business playing parts in his father’s films (Natural Born Killers, Wall Street 2, U-Turn and Nixon among them), and then directing a docu on the making of Alexander, as well as news programs. All the while, he continued to try to find a handle on his father’s novel, interspersing his own youthful experiences into it.
“My own high school and early college years informed the script, and helped it evolve from the time period my father set it in,” Sean Stone said. “The themes included understanding my own relationship to my parents, my first crush, and the backdrop of 9/11 and the Iraq War. My dad wrote the novel before he went off the war, and so his was a different interpretation from what he wrote later, more surreal like Apocalypose Now than Platoon. I did not go to war, so mine was not a veteran’s journey, but more one of a young man on an internal journey, coming into adulthood.”
If following in his father’s footsteps was once daunting, time and experience gave him the confidence to find his own place. “I’ve loved exploring the creative side since I was a kid,” he said. “My father is a tremendous personality with a decided perception of the world. I have worked hard to understand my own perspective and to trust my own instincts so that this is not Oliver Stone’s voice, this is my own. Making documentaries helped me with that.”
Ambyr Childers of Badlands Entertainment and Bonnie Timmermann will produce alongside Emmett and Furla. The Fyzz’s Wayne Marc Godfrey and Robert Jones will executive produce alongside Tony Callie, Tim Sullivan, Rene Sheridan, and Gina Goff. It’s another step into prestige fare for E/F/O, a producer on the upcoming Martin Scorsese-directed Silence and the Kevin Connolly-directed Gotti, starring John Travolta as the infamous Dapper Don. Stone is repped by CAA and Position Management.