Amazon Studios Sets Stephen Gaghan To Write & Direct Pulitzer-Winning Surf Memoir ‘Barbarian Days’


EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning Traffic scribe Stephen Gaghan will write and direct Barbarian Days for Amazon Studios, based on William Finnegan’s bestselling memoir Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016.

Gaghan will produce alongside Ted Hope, who will produce under his multi-picture deal with the studio. Finnegan will also be executive producer.

Barbarian Days tells the story of Finnegan’s lifelong love affair with surfing. He describes it as an obsession, a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life. The tale starts when the author was an 8-year old kid who caught the surf bug. It helped him navigate a “locals-only” elementary school on Oahu and those same skills — understanding another culture, finding common ground, courage and empathy — helped Finnegan find his way as a writer, husband, father. And a surfer.

“There are great surfers and there are great writers, but so rarely is this the same person,” Gaghan said. “Bill is both, and he has written about surfing in a way that is interesting to non-surfers. He just opened it up. Probably because it’s not really about surfing, it’s about time, and mortality, and how a deep, guiding passion can hold us back and propel us forward in unpredictable ways. It’s one of those rare books that once you read it you can’t stop thinking about it. And I’m so happy to be partnering with Ted and Amazon to bring it to the screen.”

Said Hope, who moved out of the executive suite at Amazon to return to his producing roots: “Like Bill, Stephen is in a love affair with the water. He knows this world, but it has been our conversations of all the meaning, heartbreak, and discovery that lies beyond the waves that made me see this was more than a film. It has pure cinema written through every page. It is a honor to be part of this great journey and to help Stephen and Amazon bring it to the screen.”

Gaghan is repped by CAA and Steve Warren at Hansen Jacobson.

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