EXCLUSIVE: Amazon Studios is developing the film Steal Away about the daring theft and escape of Robert Smalls, a slave in 1862 Charleston, SC. To Sleep With Anger filmmaker Charles Burnett is attached to direct with Cotty Chubb and George Plamondon producing. Andy Froemke wrote the script.
With a crew of fellow slaves, their families and Smalls’ own wife and children on board, the young boatman risks his and their lives to steal a paddlewheel steamer. Smalls was assigned to steer the CSS Planter, a lightly armed Confederate military transport, and one night while its three officers were away, he put on the captain’s uniform and wore a straw hat similar to the captain’s and navigated it past the five forts guarding Charleston Harbor out into the Atlantic to the blockading Union Navy — and freedom.
After the American Civil War, Smalls returned to his home of Beaufort, SC and became a politician, winning election as a Republican to the State legislature and the United States House of Representatives during the Reconstruction era. Smalls authored state legislation providing for South Carolina to have the first free and compulsory public school system in the United States. He also founded the Republican Party of South Carolina.
Burnett was honored in 2018 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences with a Governor’s Award for his remarkable contributions to film and to American culture, with two of his films —Killer of Sheep and To Sleep with Anger– in the prestigious Library of Congress National Film Registry.
Chubb has been a producer and executive in the film business for more than 30 years. With two films in the Registry, To Sleep with Anger and Kasi Lemmons’ Eve’s Bayou, Chubb has been a member of the Academy for 15 years in the Producers branch, with credits as diverse as Danny DeVito’s Hoffa and Alex Proyas’ The Crow. His most recent film was 2017’s The Dinner, directed by Oren Moverman.
Plamondon is the president of NYC-based production company Gulp Pictures. He has produced numerous series for many networks, as well as the feature film Scrapple and MTV show Warren the Ape.
Burnett is repped by Nina Shaw (Del, Shaw…) & Paul Alan Smith (ESA); Chubb is repped by Frank Wuliger/Gersh, Plamondon is repped by Bill Abrams/AGMB,and Froemke is repped by Le’Ander Nicholson/Believeland Mgmt.