01 Jul 2013

Prominent Hollywood film producer teams up with SA author, Gareth Crocker

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July 1, 2013 – Best known for the critically-acclaimed blockbuster, Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly, renowned Hollywood film producer, Gillian Gorfil,  has formally attached herself to two novels written by the South African author, Gareth Crocker.

Apart from producing the five-times Oscar-nominated Blood Diamond, Gorfil has worked on a number of A-list films with the likes of Patrick Swayze, Halle Berry, Michael Ironside, Ice Cube and Elizabeth Hurley. She is currently in pre-production on her latest film (which she co-wrote), Brilliant, for Lakeshore Entertainment in Los Angeles.

The two novels being optioned by Gorfil are Finding Jack (Crocker’s debut novel in 2011) and his latest thriller, Never Let Go.

Never Let Go – A kidnap thriller with a difference

Never Let Go (Penguin, 2013) tells the story of an American author whose young daughter dies in a botched kidnapping. In the aftermath of her death, the author realises that he cannot live on in a world without his child. He is on the verge of taking his own life, when a stranger delivers an envelope to his home. Inside the envelope is a single white card. Written on the card are six words. Words, that offer the impossible: I can bring your daughter back.

Finding Jack – the story of the abandoned US war dogs

After losing his family in a tragic accident, Fletcher Carson joins the flagging war effort in Vietnam. Deeply depressed, he plans to die in the war. But during one of his early missions, Fletcher rescues a critically wounded Labrador whom he nurses back to health and names Jack. As Fletcher and Jack patrol and survive the jungles of Vietnam, Fletcher slowly regains the will to live. At the end of the war, the U.S. Government announces that due to the cost of the withdrawal, all U.S. dogs serving in the war have been declared “surplus military equipment” and will not be transported home. For the hundreds of dog handlers throughout Vietnam, whose dogs had saved countless lives, the news is greeted with shock and disbelief. Fletcher knows that if he abandons Jack, then he too will be lost forever. Shoved onto the last chopper headed for home, Fletcher looks down into Jack’s confused and hurt eyes. Without a second thought, he jumps out of the chopper, falling to the ground in the now abandoned US camp deep inside Vietnam. And so begins their journey as, together, they try to make it to freedom.

Finding Jack has sold more than a million copies in its various formats and Crocker continues to receive letters and emails from all over the world.

Flattered and surprised

‘To have someone of Gillian’s calibre interested in my work is both flattering and tremendously exciting. Having now spent some time with her, it’s very easy to understand why she’s such a successful producer. She’s simply the most driven and dynamic person I’ve ever met. An absolute force of nature. She has a sense of raw purpose and energy that’s both rare and tremendously infectious. I’m very pleased to be going on this journey with Gillian,’ says Crocker.

Gorfil will be meeting with a number of Hollywood studio executives and agents in the weeks ahead to look at both Never Let Go and Finding Jack.

‘I am an avid animal lover, so when a friend of mine suggested that I read Finding Jack and told me briefly what it was about, I downloaded it on my Kindle right away. The next thing that I did was to cancel my plans and switch off my phone. I read the book in one sitting and when I put it down, I emailed Gareth Crocker immediately to enquire about the film rights. Anyone who has ever owned a dog needs to read this book and see the movie when it’s made. It is a moving and important story about courage, survival, loyalty, friendship and healing,’ says Gorfil.

‘I flew in to Johannesburg to meet with Gareth to outline my plans for developing Finding Jack into a movie. When he told me why he had written the book, I was more determined than ever to make this happen (*see postscript).  At the meeting, Gareth gave me a copy of his latest novel, Never Let Go. I started to read it on the plane and had a similar reaction to my Finding Jack experience. I read it in two days. Gareth is very good at finding a subject that tugs at the heartstrings, an essential ingredient for any film. Anyone who has a child, or anyone who is planning to have a child, will be pulled along with this story at an alarming rate. It is original, hip, exciting and completely different from his previous book. It was a no brainer for me; I wanted to work on developing both of these books into films,’ explains Gorfil.

Gareth Crocker has written three novels to date, Finding Jack (2011), Journey from Darkness (2012) and Never Let Go (2013). His fourth novel, King, will be released in October this year. Gillian Gorfil is represented in Los Angeles by Bob Wallerstein and Alan Gasmer.

For further information, please email info@garethcrocker.com or call 082 78 78 757. Visit
www.garethcrocker.com to find out more. To view the book trailers for Gareth’s novels, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNkYG_oxzwo  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=078S46VLJBo and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwA4eAQ3SNg

* Postscript
: While visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, several years ago, Gareth Crocker saw a Vietnam veteran dressed in full military gear place an old dog harness against the foot of the wall. When he asked the man about the harness, the veteran explained that he had been a dog handler in the war and that his dog had saved his life—and the lives of all the men in his platoon—on no less than three occasions.  He said that not a week goes by that he doesn’t think of his loyal and brave friend and wonder what happened to him.  He explained to Gareth that after the war, the government left these heroic dogs behind in Vietnam, declaring them “surplus military equipment” and simply too expensive to transport back to the States.  So, despite estimates that some 4,000 highly-trained combat, tracker and scout dogs saved the lives of some 10,000 American soldiers, few ever made it home.  Although a token number were handed over to the South Vietnamese, most were left to fates unknown.  Inspired by the real-life story of the Vietnam War Dogs, Gareth Crocker set about writing Finding Jack as a tribute to the dogs who never made it home and to help make sure that this never happens again.


One Response to “Prominent Hollywood film producer teams up with SA author, Gareth Crocker”

  1. Chantal says:

    I have just finished reading finding Jack – a book has never pulled on my emotions as this one did ( even more than Anthony Lawrence’s 3 books) even when talking about it I was still bought to tears.
    I am in awe that a fellow South African wrote this touching book …

    I think a movie would be amazing – it really put some perspective on the Vietnam war and How cold the government was in abandoning 4000 of its soldiers… makes me sick…

    am looking forward to reading my next Gareth Crocker novel …

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