Top Hollywood producer David Hoberman will work with a Suffolk film class, where students are preparing their own adaptations of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman’s story, which inspired the major motion picture Stronger. The movie, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and produced by Hoberman’s Mandeville Films, hits theaters Friday, Sept. 22.

Students in the Seminar for Freshmen film adaptation class are busy putting together their own treatments and scripts based on the memoir Stronger, Bauman’s story of survival, rehabilitation, and courage after losing both legs in the April 15, 2013, bombing. The students, who have not yet seen the movie, are preparing questions for Hoberman. They want to know how certain decisions on the movie were made, such as which parts of Bauman’s life to emphasize and which parts to leave out. Hoberman will share answers to those questions, though not until the students have finished their scripts to avoid the Hollywood mogul’s answers influencing their own adaptations.

Enduring ties to Suffolk

Stronger is a very personal film to me, and I am thrilled to share my experience with Suffolk students, who I've had the pleasure of teaching in past years,” Hoberman said. “Suffolk is always an enriching experience for me.”

Hoberman, who received an honorary degree from Suffolk in 2009, came to the University’s downtown Boston campus in 2010 to lead a three-day screenwriting workshop, during which he stressed the importance of tapping into universally understood themes as he worked with students on their scriptwriting. He also offered a sneak preview of his film, The Fighter, which went on to win best supporting actor and actress Oscars. Hoberman later returned to Suffolk and brought with him Kermit the Frog and his puppeteer in advance of The Muppets movie release.

His producer credits include dozens of movies such as The Proposal, Raising Helen, Bringing Down the House and Beauty and the Beast, which brought in $1.26 billion worldwide in 2017, according to Forbes, making it the highest grossing PG movie ever in North America.

Real-life application

Each year, Professor Monika Raesch’s Seminar for Freshmen film adaptation students write original screen adaptations of stories that have inspired movies for upcoming release, but they do so before seeing those movies. Past adaptations have included The 33, the story of miners trapped underground in Chile for 69 days and Everest, based on the 1996 Mount Everest disaster.

“This year, they have to create a complete outline of the overarching plot that they expect the movie will have,” said Raesch, chair of the Department of Communication & Journalism. “Then they have to give a detailed plotline for the opening 10 minutes of the film, and they have to script a portion of that. We always do a table read as well.”

Raesch said her current students have done significant background research on Jeff Bauman and have been reading his Stronger memoir. All of the students eventually will see the Stronger movie and compare and contrast it to their own adaptations.

An interview with Hoberman, in which he responds to students’ prepared questions, will be screened in class.

“These kinds of projects are exciting to the students and to me as we see that what we study in the classroom is applicable to real life," Raesch said. "We can ask David Hoberman questions and learn from his expertise. The students can see that people are accessible. You can come into the University and within three weeks of your freshman year, speak to a Hollywood producer. What a great opportunity."