Novel by MFA Alumnus Gets Hollywood Treatment

Novel by MFA Alumnus Gets Hollywood Treatment

Image of Chris Belden MFA'11

Author Chris Beldon MFA'11, pictured next to his 2015 novel, Shriver.

Actors Michael Shannon and Kate Hudson are set to star in the major motion film adaptation of Shriver, the critically acclaimed novel by Fairfield alumnus Chris Belden MFA '11.

It’s a minor miracle to get so far, especially these days, and for many of those years I didn’t really believe it could happen...

— Author Chris Belden MFA '11

Fairfield alumnus Chris Belden MFA'11 will have the chance to see his work brought to life on the big screen as Caliwood Pictures readies to resume production in January 2021 on the highly anticipated indie film adaptation of his 2015 novel, Shriver.

The critically acclaimed comedic satire about a man mistaken for a famous and reclusive author of the same name is being adapted for film by screenwriter-director Michael Maren and will star Golden Globe-winning actress Kate Hudson (Almost Famous), Academy Award-nominee Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road), Hollywood veteran Don Johnson (Miami Vice) and Tony Award-nominee Da’Vine Joy Randolph. Two-thirds of the indie comedy had already been filmed when production was halted earlier in the year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Belden’s comedy of mistaken identity tells the story Shriver (played by Shannon), who attends a writers conference only to find himself caught in a whirlwind of literary pretention, suspected in a criminal investigation, and hopelessly in love with a woman (played by Hudson) who thinks he's someone else. The author and alumnus of Fairfield’s first MFA in Creative Writing graduating class came up with the concept for Shriver while attending a writers conference several years prior to enrolling at the University.

“I was invited to be a featured author at the North Dakota Writers Conference, even though I had enjoyed very little success at the time,” Belden explained. “I was flown out, put up in a hotel, assigned a driver, gave a reading, appeared on panel discussions, and was generally treated like a successful author. The entire time I was terrified that they would discover my real identity and run me out of town. Like many writers, I write, in part, to explore my own neuroses, so I invented a character who is literally mistaken for a successful author and invited to a prestigious conference.”

A few years later, Beldon transformed his initial idea into a nearly completed manuscript. During his MFA residency at Fairfield, he utilized the program’s workshops to hone several chapters in the book and networked with then-faculty member Kim McLarin who helped him find an agent to further refine his story and represent his project to publishers.

“The MFA program proved invaluable to the process of finishing the novel,” Belden affirmed.

Shriver isn’t Belden’s first foray into film, nor is it his first book. In addition to his other novel, Carry-On and his collection of short stories, The Floating Lady of Lake Tawaba: Stories, he has written and co-written several screenplays over the years, including the 1997 thriller, Amnesia, which starred Ally Sheedy and John Savage.

When asked how it feels seeing his work move into production – six years after the book was optioned, Belden admitted, “It’s a minor miracle to get so far, especially these days, and for many of those years I didn’t really believe it could happen... even as I saw photos of Michael Shannon, Kate Hudson, and Don Johnson on the set, in character, with cameras in the background. It’s surreal and reminds me a lot of my time at that writers conference when I waited to be uncovered as an imposter.” 

For more information about Fairfield University’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program, visit www.fairfield.edu/mfa

Tags:  Top Stories,  College of Arts & Sciences

Last modified: 09-17-20 12:00 AM

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