Rust and Bone

Craig Davidson, a UNB English graduate, has had his thesis, which consisted of short stories, turned into a major motion picture.

With a newborn by his side and a movie made out of his short stories, University of New Brunswick master’s in English graduate Craig Davidson is making a name for himself.

With part of his master’s thesis “28 Bones” made into a movie, Davidson’s dream is finally coming true.

The path to success, however, was not easy.

Putting nickels in a penny bank

After graduating from Trent University in Ontario, and teaching for a year in Japan, Davidson decided to head back to school; but as his undergrad marks were underwhelming, UNB Fredericton offered to accept him into its master’s of Arts program on a probationary basis.

“I’m a firm believer in the fact that if you just keep working, keep plugging along, it’s like putting nickels in a penny bank; at some point it may just pay off. And, if it never does, well, it’s still a good way to go through life,” says Davidson.

While attending the University of New Brunswick, Davidson was the only two-time recipient of the David H. Walker award, a $1,000 prize for the best piece of fiction.

“It was fantastic to dominate my contemporaries, crush their spirit, and spend all the sweet, sweet moolah! No, in all seriousness it was lovely and I got lucky,” he says.

One of Davidson’s stories was then published by UNB in Canada’s longest living literary journal, The Fiddlehead.

Finally making it

Inspired by Davidson’s stories, director Jacques Audiard created “Rust and Bone”, a film which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

“My main thought [when he approached me about the movie] was that this is never going to happen,” says Davidson.

“The book was optioned years ago; it was a long process to bring it to the screen. I thought the director would get bored of the material, the producers wouldn't cough up the money, the stars wouldn't agree to be in it, etc, etc. A film's got to leap a lot of hurdles to get made. 

While his unusual story lines and themes were initially a tough sell in Canada,  Davidson says it feels nice knowing his films will be shown in his homeland.

“It feels great to have a movie made. It’s a wonderful bit of luck. I think my writing is pretty cinematic in style, so directors can ‘see’ it more easily, hence making it adaptable to the screen.”

With his story now made into film, Sony Picture Classics is looking to show his film both in Canada and the United States.

Davidson says his time at the University of New Brunswick played a role in his success.

“UNB was integral in all that – after all, many of the stories germinated there, and lo and behold these many years later something pretty cool came of it.

Contributed by Bronte James, UNB Communications & Marketing. This story made possible through the support of the UNB Associated Alumni