After reading Into the Wild, Sean contacted the author, who put him in touch with Chris's sister, Carine, and his parents, Walt and Billie.
Sean met with the family to express his desire to bring Chris's story to the big screen, but they weren't ready. "I think we were close, but it was still such a raw loss for them," he says. "I think they had felt very grateful to Jon for retracing [Chris's] steps. … Having had lightning strike once, I think that there was a shyness to take the chance in the hands of a filmmaker."
Then, when it looked like the movie was going to happen, Chris's mother had a dream that her son didn't want the film to be made. "I said to her then, and I mean it, that if I didn't respect dreams, I wouldn't make movies…but that I would never lose the hunger for it," Sean says. "[I told her], if anything changed—whether it was in a week, a month, a year or 10 years—to let me know."
Ten years later, Sean got the call.