Deadly California Wildfire Movie in the Works From 'Private War' Director (Exclusive)
The story, based on true events during the 2018 blaze that destroyed the town of Paradise, California, will center on Heather Roebuck, a pregnant woman who chronicled her harrowing ordeal in a Facebook post that went viral.
The tragedy and the heroism of the 2018 Camp Fire is getting the big-screen treatment, with Matthew Heineman, the filmmaker behind biopic Private War, set to write and direct a drama for Focus Features.
Temple Hill — the banner run by Marty Bowen and behind the films First Man and Love, Simon — will produce what is being titled Paradise, along with Heineman. Josh McLaughlin will executive produce.
The story is based on true events during the 2018 Camp Fire, which destroyed the small town of Paradise, California, and became the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state's history. It will center on Heather Roebuck, a woman who gave birth via C-section minutes before her hospital became engulfed by flames. Powerless to move her legs due to the operation and separated from her newborn and fiancé, Roebuck embarked on a harrowing journey through the town with the aid of a group of EMTs and other emergency personnel. The group attempted to reunite Roebuck with her family and soon all found themselves fighting for their lives.
Roebuck chronicled the ordeal in a Facebook post that went viral.
Focus optioned the life rights for Roebuck, her fiancé Bret Harles and their children, as well as the Butte County emergency medical workers — Sean Abrams, Mike Castro, Shannon Molarius and Robin Cranston — who ended up becoming impromptu firefighters as the group became trapped by the fire.
“For me, the film examines the human connections ordinary people make in extraordinary circumstances,” Heineman said Tuesday in a statement. “Heather’s journey of inner strength in the face of unparalleled and unexpected adversity is one of the most exciting and visceral stories that I’ve ever encountered.”
After establishing himself as an award-winning documentarian, Heineman made his narrative feature debut with 2018’s Private War, which starred Rosamund Pike as war photojournalist Marie Colvin. The movie earned two Golden Globe nominations as well as a DGA Award nomination.
Heineman’s documentary oeuvre includes Cartel Land, which earned him an Oscar nomination as well as two Emmy wins; the BAFTA-nominated City of Ghosts; and The Trade.
He is repped by CAA, Cinetic Media and Sloss Eckhouse Law.