The Sundance darling Selah and The Spades has been acquired by Amazon Studios and is set to be further adapted and expanded upon in a television series. The film currently holds a 100% positive review on Rotten Tomatoes and according to Variety it was a “favorite with critics.” The film will be available to Amazon Prime members before the series’ release. This story’s production is similar to that of Dear White People, which was also a movie before becoming a television series on Netflix.
This is the first full-length feature of renowned writer and director Tayarisha Poe. She previously collaborated on a dramedy short, Honey and Trombones, and earlier than that was her screenwriting debut The Fits, a hypnotic look into the emotional turmoil a tomboy is faced with when suddenly dropped into a dance team.
Selah and The Spades takes a harsh look at a Pennsylvania prep school, drug dealer, Selah, the HBIC of the student drug ring known as The Spades. While juggling her status as the head honcho and getting ready to graduate as a student worthy of honors, Selah also has to look for a replacement for her position in the group, and it has to be someone she likes. One logline reads as follows:
Haldwell Boarding School has five factions — The Spades, The Sea, The Skins, The Bobbies, and The Prefects — Selah runs the most dominant, The Spades, who cater to the most classic of vices and supply students with coveted, illegal alcohol and pills. As the school year comes to an end, Selah must contend with the reality that she will lose control of The Spades, with sophomore upstart Paloma making waves. As the student begins to outshine her, Selah becomes determined to reassert her power, no matter the cost.
Amazon picked up the rights to several projects at Sundance, including Honey Boy, a drama with Shia LaBeouf, Late Night, Mindy Kaling’s an inside look at the writer’s room of a comedy show that is currently in theatres, and a political thriller known as The Report. Matt Newman, co-head of movies at Amazon says, “Selah and The Spades is a fun and addictive story that immediately draws you in. [We’re] so excited to bring filmmaker Tayarisha Poe into the Amazon Studios family – she has such a unique and beautiful style of storytelling that young audiences everywhere will fall in love with, just as se have.”
Meanwhile Poe says, “I’m thrilled that Selah and The Spades has found a home with Amazon Studios, and doubly excited to see the world of The Haldwell School expand and develop in the serial format. I’d always hoped to work with a company that realized the multi-format potential of this fictional world, and truly we have found the ideal partners with Amazon.” Poe is set to write, direct and produce the original series, in collaboration with Lauren McBride who also helped produce the film.
Poe also says, “I am always eager to see stories about the marginalia of black life, and more generally about the minutiae of being a human being. In film, in most Western storytelling, there is this false, persistent assumption that the relatable ‘every man’ story can only be successful — and therefore must only be told — with white characters at the center of them. And that’s just not my jam.”