Writer Mark Boal has made a career of working primarily on true-life stories, and he's back with another one, co-writing a drama based on the tragic events in a small town in Texas in 1993. The result is a script called Waco, which has The Shallows' Jaume Collet-Serra to direct for Annapurna Pictures.
Boal is also producing the film, after writing the screenplay alongside Marc Haimes (who worked on Kubo And The Two Strings). It'll cover how the Branch Davidian cult was set up by David Koresh in the town of Elk, Texas, outside of Waco. A breakaway sect from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, it was soon viewed by the US federal government and law enforcement agencies as a dangerous threat. After the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives attempted to conduct a search, a clash resulted in a raid that ended with four agents and six of the Davidians dead. That was just the start of the tragedy, though, as it kicked off a 51-day stand-off that ended when the FBI raided the compound. A huge fire led to 76 deaths.
"Waco was a turning point in history in the battle between the FBI and the far right in America," Boal tells Deadline. "It is a collision between a militant faction, the Second Amendment, and the right to religious freedom. Many said this cult was not bothering anyone; this is about what the FBI and Justice Department perceived as a threat, and why, and how the FBI came in and crushed it."
And he's clear on why Collet-Serra got the job. "Jaume is a filmmaker who has proven himself to have a strong connection to mainstream audiences," Boal says. "His work also shows a high level of artistic ambition, and this is an opportunity to combine those elements in telling a story that started in a small Texas town and reached up to the highest levels of government."
Collet-Serra is aiming to have the film shooting later this year, with casting due to start soon. The director's next film is The Commuter, his latest thriller to star Liam Neeson, which will be out on 19 January next year. As for Boal, he has Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit due here on 25 August.