Q: How did you get involved in this project?
A: Howard Burkons and Brenda Friend saw Ron Clark on television after he was named Disney's Teacher of the Year. His story was impassioned, and he was energetic and possessed a unique commitment to doing whatever it took to elevate the performance of his class and these students. They thought this fabulous story should be told in a movie and contacted us to develop it.
Q: Why did you bring the project to TNT?
A: The script was originally developed for the Wonderful World of Disney for ABC. Because of changes at that network, however, the project was dropped. By that time, we had a wonderful script, so we took it to TNT for consideration for the JOHNSON & JOHNSON SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION® film series. TNT loved the script; Johnson & Johnson loved the script. So we had life again in our project after being in turnaround for a number of years.
Q: Why do you believe this film is such a good fit with the JOHNSON & JOHNSON SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION® film series?
A: Johnson & Johnson likes to do movies that inspire people. THE RON CLARK STORY is a wonderful movie about a great teacher who more than inspires his students. This is the kind of film they are looking for.
Q: What are some of the challenges in making a movie about a real person?
A: The biggest challenges in doing true stories about living people is that you take a person's life, look at it over the course of a certain number of years they have been doing whatever they do and make sure the content is "entertainment-worthy." Compressing, condensing and choosing the dramatic structure within the actual chronology of events - whether it's the personal story, personal relationships, friendships or family - you have to select the story that is the most dramatic, because this is a piece of entertainment, and we are doing a dramatic story. You want, at the end of the movie, for people to feel like, "Wow, I see why you made this movie. I see why you brought me into this man's life and shared his life with us."
Q: Where does the drama come from in THE RON CLARK STORY?
A: In this film the drama comes from a character: Ron Clark. He was a fish out of water when he came to New York to be a teacher. He didn't really understand how difficult it was going to be in Harlem - in the school that he chose or with the kids that he chose - so it brings you quite rapidly to the point of, "Can I or can't I do this? Will I or won't I succeed? Should I just give up and go home?" When a movie presents questions like these, the drama has been created.