HBO Films is developing Think Aaron, based on the tragic story of “hacktivist” Aaron Swartz, from Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal’s Tribeca Productions, husband-and-wife producing duo Eric Roth and Debra Greenfield, writer Andy Bellin and director Elliott Lester.
In Think Aaron, child prodigy and programming genius Swartz becomes his generation’s most important and influential “hacktivist,” a political activist using his expertise in technology to fight for open and equal access to knowledge on the Internet, only to find himself imprisoned and made an example of by the U.S. government. The subject is very timely given the ongoing net neutrality debate.
Lester, executive producer/director of the Emmy-nominated HBO Film Nightingale starring David Oyelowo, will direct from a script by Bellin. Tribeca’s De Niro, Rosenthal and Berry Welsh will executive produce with Roth, Greenfield and Lester.
The project is still in development, but I hear top young talent already is circling the lead, with a potential 2018 start date eyed.
Swartz was the founder of Demand Progress, which launched the campaign against the Internet censorship bills (SOPA/PIPA). He also was involved in the development of the web feed format RSS; the Markdown publishing format; and the social news site Reddit, in which he became a partner after its merger with his company, Infogami. He also developed website theinfo.org and authored the landmark analysis of Wikipedia, Who Writes Wikipedia?
In 2011, Swartz was arrested by MIT police on state breaking-and-entering charges for allegedly connecting a computer to the MIT network and setting it to download academic journal articles from digital library JSTOR using a guest user account issued to him by MIT. He later was charged with wire fraud and violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, carrying a maximum penalty of $1 million in fines and 35 years in prison. He committed suicide in 2013 at age of 26 while under federal indictment for his alleged computer crimes.
Think Aaron reteams Tribeca Productions and HBO following their collaboration on the 2017 Emmy-nominated The Wizard of Lies, starring De Niro, which was the most watched HBO movie in 4 years, since 2013’s Behind the Candelabra.