May 4 movie now in casting process

Evan Rachel Wood set to play Allison Krause

By Nicole Stempak

Daily Kent Stater

Screenwriter Jim Hart wrote the first draft of the screenplay 12 years ago.

When he first spoke with producer Jason Felts, he told him, “Before I die, this movie is getting made.”

That movie is “Ohio,” and it tells the story of the events that happened the weekend leading up to and including May 4, 1970, and the people who lived it.

Several drafts later, Hart’s dream is coming true: Director Barbara Kopple has been hired and casting is underway, with Evan Rachel Wood signed to play Allison Krause.

Earlier this year, it was rumored that Justin Timberlake, Zac Efron and Robert Pattinson were cast. Of the purported actors, Hart said it was just that: rumors.

No release date has been set, but production is underway. Scripts are circulating among actors and acting companies. The production company, J2 Pictures, is searching for a financier.

Felts said true stories can take several years to create, adding that production of “Good Morning, Vietnam” and “Catch Me If You Can,” took about a decade.

“It’s not exactly unusual for these true stories to evolve and take time because you have to be very, very, very careful of how you do these things,” he said. “You can’t sort of just slap them together.”

Felts said he, Hart and others involved with the project came to Kent two years ago. They went to the commemoration and spent the night talking to Alan and Chic Canfora and Tom Grace. They woke up early the next morning, drove to Pittsburgh and had lunch with the Krause family. They visited Allison’s childhood home and visited her gravesite.

“We’re very, very, very careful of keeping it authentic and 100 percent accurate,” Felts said.

Hart said he was moved to write the screenplay because of his own experiences.

“I’m from that era,” he said, adding he graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1969. “For me, it’s the defining moment of our generation.”

He says May 4 was his generation’s John F. Kennedy assassination, in that he remembers where he was and what he was doing.

Nearly 40 years later, Hart said the story still needs to be told.

“What happened at Kent State is unfinished business in our country, in our history,” he said.

Hart said he plans to come back to Kent for the 40th anniversary with an update on the movie that will hopefully have begun filming.

Contact enterprise reporter Nicole Stempak at [email protected].