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Opening this Friday, April 26th, the Paramount Pictures film Pain & Gain is based on the writing of Pete Collins, part of his MFA thesis of creative nonfiction crime stories about South Florida con men. Pain & Gain is drawn from what the Miami Herald calls Collins’ “an epic three-part story” that was published by the Miami New Times. Other pieces by Collins (which he refers to as “jailhouse yarns”) in his thesis were published in the Herald’s Tropic Magazine and then picked up by Sixty Minutes and Dateline.

Director Michael Bay (Transformers) describes Pain & Gain as “a mixture of Fargo and Pulp Fiction. It’s a dark comedy, and it’s all true.” Shot entirely in South Florida, Pain & Gain stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie as members of the Sun Gym gang, bodybuilders who turned, ineptly, to kidnapping, extortion, torture, and murder. Tony Shalhoub plays a victim who survived attempted murder and Ed Harris the detective he turned to for help. Playboy says, “An early candidate for the guy flick of 2013, Pain & Gain is violent, deeply nasty and insanely funny.” The original series can be found online at the New Times, where you can also read Pete Collins’ recent (wry and hilarious) essay about his journey from being “broke, jobless, and near bottom” to the red carpet and seeing his name in the movie ads. More about Pete Collins and his current projects on his website.