Ex-Focus Head James Schamus to Make Feature Directorial Debut

32 FEA Toronto James Schamus H
AP Photo/David Azia

He will helm the film adaptation of Philip Roth's best-selling novel 'Indignation'

James Schamus will make his feature directing debut with his adaptation of Philip Roth’s best-selling novel Indignation.

The former Focus Features head will reteam with his longtime collaborator Anthony Bregman to produce the film, which is scheduled to shoot in summer 2015 in New York.

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Set in 1951, the story follows Marcus Messner, the idealistic son of a humble kosher butcher from Newark, N.J. Marcus leaves for Ohio to study at a small, conservative college, where he finds himself at odds with the administration, grapples with anti-Semitism and sexual repression, and pines after a troubled girl.

Bregman is producing through his Likely Story production company.

Likely Story’s Avy Eschenasy and Stefanie Azpiazu will serve as executive producers.

“Marcus Messner is an extraordinary character, heartbreakingly open and alive, and Anthony Bregman is an extraordinary producer, heart-stoppingly economical; bringing them together for my first feature as a director is as felicitous a match as I could ever hope for,” Schamus said.

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Added Bregman: “It's been two decades since I met and first started working with James, and I've noticed that he's still figuring out what he wants to be when he grows up. But in the process, he's used his boundless creative energy to build two landmark companies, produce dozens of visionary films, and write brilliant, acclaimed screenplays. His adaptation of Philip Roth's powerful novel is a delight on its own, and his new shift to directing is a tantalizing prospect for anybody who loves movies.”

Schamus, who was ousted from his Focus post last year in a major shake-up at parent studio Universal, is also the screenwriter of a diverse group of films that includes Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the Marvel comic book adaptation Hulk. As an executive, he shepherded such films as Brokeback Mountain, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Kids Are All Right.

Schamus and Bregman, who once worked together at Schamus' Good Machine indie production company, have teamed on a number of movies including Eternal Sunshine.