BERLIN (Hollywood Reporter) - Emilio Estevez is filling out his library card for his next movie. Estevez is prepping “The Public,” a social drama set in a public library that he wrote and will direct as his follow-up to “Bobby,” his 2006 ensemble drama.
“The Public” is loosely based on a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece written by Chip Ward, a retiring librarian in Salt Lake City, which discussed the epidemic issue of libraries becoming de facto shelters for the homeless and the mentally ill in light of many social program cuts.
Estevez was on the awards circuit with “Bobby,” a film that he said brought him “out of the wilderness,” when he had a conversation with Harvey Weinstein, whose Weinstein Co. distributed that film with MGM.
“Harvey said, ‘You have a voice and use it. And don’t follow up ‘Bobby’ with something frivolous,”’ Estevez recalled. “That stayed with me. And when I read this piece last April, I thought this could be it.”
Estevez, who wrote and directed “Bobby,” did most of his research for that ensemble drama at Los Angeles’ historic downtown public library and as such was familiar with it. After reading the article, he went back and saw what he had missed.
“It was every bit as bad as the op-ed piece described it,” he said.
The story takes place during the two coldest days of the year in Los Angeles, when the library is overwhelmed by people seeking shelter. After the library administration rebuffs one librarian’s attempts to keep the doors open, he stages an act of civil disobedience. He ends up dealing with the library’s new inhabitants, many of them mentally ill.
Estevez hopes to get permission to shoot part of the film in Los Angeles’ downtown library despite a moratorium on shooting indoors there. He overcame similar hurdles with “Bobby” when he secured permission to shoot at L.A.’s Ambassador Hotel, which was just months away from the wrecking ball.