Ray tracking a ‘Hurricane’ for Universal

Ray tracking a 'Hurricane' for Universal 1Filmmaker Billy Ray has signed on to write and direct Universal Pictures’ “Hurricane Season,” based on an upcoming documentary by Franklin Martin titled “Walking on Dead Fish.” Mark Gordon and Martin are producing.

“Hurricane” will tell the true story of the football team at East St. John High School, near New Orleans. The team struggled with integrating displaced students from surrounding high school teams, trying to help rebuild their community after Katrina while fighting to become champions on the field.

“It’s about something that I love, which is this idea of what sports can do to a community,” Ray said in an interview. “In this case, it’s a team that came together to both literally and figuratively rebuild the city around it. I find that completely compelling.”

Ray will travel to New Orleans at the end of August to start his research, which will include catching a football game as well as talking to the players, the coach and the fans. He also will tap into hours upon hours of footage from the “Dead Fish” documentary.

Ray, who is in postproduction on his Cold War thriller “Breach,” said he will put the movie’s structure down first, then “find the style that is the best expression of that idea. I know people who do put the style first and fit the structure to it — some even do it successfully — but I am not one of them.”

Universal’s Scott Bernstein and David Ortiz will oversee the project for the studio. Mark Gordon Co.’s Josh McLaughlin will shepherd for the company.