Alexis Ostrander, an Emmy-nominee for Hulu’s “Light as a Feather,” is set to direct a film based on the groundbreaking U.S. women’s rowing team of 1975 known as “The Red Rose Crew,” which 101 Studios will produce, finance and distribute, the studio announced Thursday.
The sports film is the first feature developed as part of Sports Illustrated Studios, 101 Studios’ partnership with the owner of the SI brand Authentic Brands Group.
The film will be based on Daniel J. Boyne’s biography “The Red Rose Crew: A True Story Of Women, Winning, and The Water.” In 1975, a group of inspiring women rowed their way to international glory, battling sexual prejudice, bureaucracy and male domination to usher in a new era for competitive sports. Dubbed the “Red Rose Crew,” a team of eight dedicated rowers from across the country–including soft-spoken MIT professor Gail Pearson, competitive lead rower Carie Graves and teenage coxswain Lynn Stillman–banded together, determined to prove themselves at the World Rowing Championships. Under the guidance of legendary Harvard men’s crew coach Harry Parker, who initially doubted that women could withstand the rigors of hard training, the team not only achieved unprecedented success, they also made history.
Ostrander will direct the film, and Laura Hansen will write the screenplay based on Boyne’s book. Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Lindsay Williams of Gotham Group will executive produce along with and Ostrander and Zoë Kent of A to Z Productions. Laura Hansen and Alexis Ostrander brought Boyne’s novel to 101 Studios.
“We are thrilled to be able to tell this story,” 101 Studios CEO David Glasser said in a statement. “We chose for this film to be Sports Illustrated Studios’ inaugural release because at Sports Illustrated Studios, we are proud to bring to life the most compelling sports stories in history in ways that haven’t been seen before, and that’s exactly our mission with Red Rose Crew. The Red Rose Crew’s journey is a remarkable one that many are unfamiliar with, and with a team of dynamic filmmakers, we look forward to allow audiences to see their tenacity and determination firsthand in theaters worldwide.”
“I am very happy to work with such a talented team of people and I am excited that this inspirational and important story will be told in such an authentic way,” Boyne said in a statement.
“There aren’t nearly enough stories celebrating women in sports and, for so many reasons, this feels like the perfect time to be inspired by the Red Rose Crew and everything they overcame,” Hansen said in a statement. “I’m so honored to help bring this pioneering, unconventional sisterhood to life with Alexis and the rest of our amazing team.”
“I’m excited to be working with 101 Studios and have a partner that is championing such an empowering story,” Ostrander said in a statement. “I was drawn to this group of unsung heroes and how their struggles and triumphs still hold water today. Their camaraderie, perseverance and steadfast belief in themselves inspire me, and I can’t wait for the world to fall in love with them.”
Boyne’s “The Red Rose Crew: A True Story Of Women, Winning, and The Water” was published in 2000 by Lyons Press. Boyne is the author of several books and is a freelance journalist and rowing coach at Harvard University. He also served as the marine and rowing consultant on “The Social Network.”
Ostrander is a Warner Brothers Emerging Film Directors and TV Directors Workshop alumna and has directed episodes of “Supergirl,” “American Horror Story” and “Servant.”
Leif Cervantes de Reinstein of Sheppard Mullin negotiated the deal on behalf of 101 Studios with George Davis on behalf of Gotham Group, and CAA, Rick Genow and Hannah Mulderink from Goodman, Genow, Schenkman, Smelkinson & Christopher, LLP for Alexis Ostrander and Zoë Kent.
Hansen is represented by Gotham Group and attorney Rob Goldman.
For the record: A previous version of this story featured a photo that misidentifed Ostrander. We apologize for the error.