Kevin Jakubowski, a Batavia native now living in Los Angeles, has had his first major screenwriting project, "Assassination of a High School President," picked up for a movie starring Bruce Willis.
Jeff Knox | Staff Photographer
Kevin Jakubowski was in Batavia last winter when he got the call.
The movie he co-wrote had been optioned, and all they needed to have it made was one big-name star to sign on.
"My agent called and said, 'Bruce (Willis) read it, he loves it, he's in,'" Jakubowski recalled. "I went outside and started jumping around in the snow."
To be released next year, "Assassination of a High School President" will be the first major movie for the Batavia native and screenwriter. The movie from the Yari Film Co. has a $10 million budget and will also star Mischa Barton.
Jakubowski, 28, graduated from Fenwick High School in Oak Park in 1997. His first on-screen work was on Batavia Access Television as part of a sketch comedy show.
He and several friends produced "A Bit Carried Away," which featured bits like "The Office of Storm Naming Centers of America," and the story of a child who was addicted to Stove Top Stuffing.
He attended Villanova University in Pennsylvania and graduate school for film in Dublin, Ireland, writing scripts the whole time.
When he moved to California, he was hired as an intern on the Sony lot as his first job in the movie business.
"It was cool, but I was just out of grad school, and, you know, being paid with a sandwich," he said.
In 2005, he was hired as a production assistant on the animated Comedy Central cable television series "South Park."
The job included everything from picking up the creators' dry cleaning to tracking down an "Achy Breaky Heart" instructional video so character Eric Cartman could have the right moves when he performed it in an episode.
While working on the show, Jakubowski started trading scripts with another production assistant, Tim Calpin. They thought they could complement each others' writing and began working together.
"It's a lot more productive than writing on your own," Jakubowski said.
The two started to combine two scripts they had, with the setting in Calpin's script and the main character in Jakubowski's. They wanted to tell a film noir conspiracy story set within a high school. It has two working titles at the moment -- "The Assassination of a High School President" and "The Sophomore."
It tells the story of a reporter for the school paper and the school's popular girl, Mischa Barton, investigating some stolen SATs. Willis plays the school's principal.
The movie is shooting now in New Jersey, and should be wrapped up next week. Last month, Jakubowski's family visited the set and watched several scenes being shot.
"It was like I had to pinch myself," said Kevin's mom, Maureen. "He's wanted to do this for so long; it's like a dream come true."
Some of the references in the movie might be familiar to locals. The high school's mascot is the Friars and its colors are black and white, the same as at Fenwick High School. And some of the names dropped in the background are friends of Jakubowski's.
He's been working on the set every day, doing rewrites at night when necessary.
"It's like seeing an ultrasound of your kid," he said. "You know it's there, and you know it's coming. It's like watching something come alive."
Based on the buzz around this movie, Jakubowski has been able to quit "South Park" and write full-time since last summer.
"It's been great to wake up every morning and write all day," said Jakubowski, who now lives in Santa Monica, Calif.
His pet project is a script written several years ago called "Nintendo Christmas," which follows a group of kids in the '80s working together to overcome the town ban on the video game system.
The writing duo also was hired to write the script of an upcoming Lions Gate film and the two have several other scripts they're trying to get made.
"As long as I'm eating and writing, I'm on cloud nine," Jakubowski said. "It's fantastic."