Jim Mickle, the master filmmaker who has so far given us such horror greats as Stake Land, Mulberry Street and We Are What We Are, along with the gritty thriller Cold in July, has announced that his next film will be an adaptation of John M. Maclean’s novel, The Esperanza Fire.
Set against the backdrop of one of the most fire-prone areas in the world, “Esperanza” is the true story of a Spartan culture of firefighters battling the “perfect storm” of wildfires in 2006 near Cabazon, Calif. The fire and resulting deaths led to the first-ever conviction of a wildland arsonist for first-degree murder.
Sean O’Keefe penned the script, with Alex Hedlund overseeing for Legendary. Esperanza will also mark the first feature project Mickle directs from someone else’s script. He’s the latest indie helmer to be tapped for bigger budget studio fare, as Gareth Edwards was when he jumped from the low budget creature feature Monsters to the $160 million Godzilla. That hiring choice paid off for Legendary in over half a billion dollars at the global box office.
Here’s the synopsis for the book:
When a jury returns to a packed courtroom to announce its verdict in a capital murder case every noise, even a scraped chair or an opening door, resonates like a high-tension cable snap. Spectators stop rustling in their seats; prosecution and defense lawyers and the accused stiffen into attitudes of wariness; and the judge looks on owlishly. In that atmosphere of heightened expectation the jury entered a Riverside County Superior Court room in southern California to render a decision in the trial of Raymond Oyler, charged with murder for setting the Esperanza Fire of 2006, which killed a five man Forest Service engine crew sent to fight the blaze.
Today, wildland fire is everybody’s business, from the White House to the fireground. Wildfires have grown bigger, more intense, more destructive—and more expensive. Federal taxpayers, for example, footed most of the $16 million bill for fighting the Esperanza Fire. But the highest cost was the lives of the five-man crew of Engine 57, the first wildland engine crew ever to be wiped out by flames.