No VERACITY for Twin Cities?

Our humble editor had been wondering whatever happened to Laura Bynum, a local writer who came out of nowhere a few short years ago to found Ugly Girl Productions, a shingle that would create narrative material focusing on women and/or contemporary issues. According to an April 4, 2006 interview with Chuck Koplinski in The Hub weekly, Bynum completed shooting a black comedy short called UGLY GIRLS and also began pre-production on a sci-fi dystopia parable called VERACITY. Her descriptions implied the latter would be a feature-length project also made in Champaign-Urbana, saying:

“It’s extremely timely and relevant and it’s just a killer story. We have such a brilliant cast and crew available. I have faith it’s going to find a strong market … We want C-U residents to know what a hotbed of talent there is here [by screening the completed UGLY GIRLS for the public] and, of course, we’d like them to know they can be a part of helping this community ‘fund’ a small but growing film industry with tickets, with permissions to shoot on locations they might have available, with talents they might be able to bring to the table, and equipment. You’d be surprised the kinds of things we have on our wish list – it’s not just equipment.” [p.9]

To the best of our knowledge, UGLY GIRLS never wowed the C-U. (In fact, a Google search turns up only one result for “Laura Bynum” and “UGLY GIRLS” – one of the very first CUBlog entries, which linked to the article cited above.) VERACITY obviously failed to follow suit. Given Melissa Merli’s update which ran in The News-Gazette over the weekend, we can probably strike this VERACITY from C-U Blogfidential’s watchful eye as Bynum has since been occupied with a move to Virginia, the passing of her beloved grandmother, a bout with breast cancer (which she beat, thank goodness) and success attained through different avenues with her original story.

That certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give props where props are due when Bynum reads from the novel Veracity tonight, Tuesday, January 12, 7 p.m., at Borders bookstore, 802 W. Town Center Blvd., Champaign, IL. Seems that a little publisher called Simon & Schuster released hardback and eBook editions of Veracity through a little division called Pocket Books last Tuesday, January 5, the result of good fortune bestowed upon the author after entering her manuscript (primarily written at the café of this Borders) in a contest at a Hawaii writers’ conference. Apparently, time and opportunity changes things; Koplinski’s earlier article never mentions distinctly a prose version of the story, although it’s reasonable to think that Bynum developed it simultaneously with a movie script.

At her current Web site, Bynum discusses her interests in writing and critical thinking (starting with reactions to 9/11 and the Patriot Act) as well as the themes and storyline of Veracity, which involves an underground movement resisting an oppressive “new order” government controlling its citizens through electronic implants. Comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Children of Men, and (naturally) Nineteen Eighty-Four abound on-line and, considering how all those cautionary tomes successfully survived the transition to feature films, is it any surprise that Bynum has a “books to film agent” shopping the property around? We wish the author the best of luck and hope her work winds up with savvy filmmakers who will do the material justice.

Hopefully, consideration would be made to film a prospective VERACITY feature in the Midwest, since the book’s resistance group is headquartered there and Springfield native Bynum apparently had close-to-home locations in mind when writing the novel, according to the Merli article. With our luck, budget and studio politics will dictate shooting in Toronto or Louisiana or Missouri, oh my. Then again, Steven Soderbergh brought THE INFORMANT! right back to where his own story began, so we’ll see.

~ Jason Pankoke

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