When my good friend and respected colleague, Jeff Helton approached me about producing a movie that he was in the process of adapting from an award winning book into a screenplay I was both honored and intrigued. His subsequent request to immediately fly to Texas to begin location scouting, meet with the author, and the real live characters that inspired the book, left me somewhat ambivalent. As a producer with several films in development I’m exceedingly aware of the difficulties in raising funds for even the most novel scripts and thus I was hesitant to prematurely invest in any way. Now having met Alex the author, and Sue (a truly impressive lady who has inspired one of the main characters) I am immensely grateful for the valuable eye opening experience and impassioned to tell their story.
Meeting Alex was a joy and a gift. She is a truly inspirational woman who has held many titles including U.S National Champion on the 1994 women’s bobsled team! It was her role as a mother that provided the strongest impetus for writing the witty, poignant and riveting, award-winning novel “Damaged Goods”. Her son was amongst many children in the school who were battling serious health issues that she has come to believe are a result of the practices of nearby cement plants. Alex told me stories relaying the value of an inhaler in her son’s school. While a necessity for some, one wouldn’t typically imagine an inhaler to be a “hot” commodity. However in her son’s school it was! She said she could leave her cell phone and wallet unattended and has on several occasions, but if she left an inhaler on the counter and went to the ladies room it was sure vanish before she returned.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Sue Pope. Beyond influencing the plot and character in Allred’s book, the live Sue is incredibly dynamic. She is an elegant, classy, yet tough and bold lady who has had her own health struggles and lost much of her family due to health issues she believed to be complicated by the compromised air quality. The adventures and tribulations of these passionate, feisty women motivated the tale of citizens taking on big business tied to big government.
Narratives focused on weighty subjects run the risk of being tendentious, overly melodramatic, and dry, but Allred has avoided this trap with characters that are multidimensional, and an engaging plot that hooks you. Damaged Goods is novel that is full of compassion, heart, humor and entertainment, and therefore has the potential to resonate for a large audience.
I can’t wait to bring her vision to the big screen!