In the first round of the contest, which aims to find "the next great independent filmmaker," aspiring moviemakers submitted feature length narrative film projects they hoped to get on screen. Based on those scripts—about 2000 submitted in total—ten semifinalists were chosen by a Film Independent jury to go on to the next round. The semifinalists were then required to submit shorts that demonstrated their ability to make a feature film.
BBH's Katz parachuted in on Hatchet Man when Hurzeler, his former college roommate at RISD, asked him to produce the film, another work in progress of his and his fiancé Delavigne, who also wrote the script for Blue Valentine, currently in production and starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.
"We had about four weeks, but only about two weeks for me to put the shoot together before I had to go on a plane to Australia on a Vaseline shoot," says Katz. "It was incredibly hectic and really bad timing, but at the same time it was really thrilling and so fulfilling and exciting."
Hatchet Man stars actor Matt Boren, who appeared in last year's acclaimed indie film Momma's Man, as well as Baywatch and General Hospital star Billy Warlock. All ten semifinalist shorts went live on the contest site on Friday, June 5, and viewers will have a month to vote on the grand prize winner, chosen by them and a celebrity jury comprised of A-list Hollywood talents like actor Josh Brolin, director John Sayles, and Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, the producers of Milk.
Should they win, Hurzeler and Delavigne are hoping to produce their script for Church, a thriller about a pastor who comes face to face with his dark side when his parish gets threatened. Judge for yourselves here whose film you think deserves the grand prize: $150,000 in funding and additional production resources like film stock, processing, post, camera rental, etc., for a total prize value of $350,000. The winning film will also be shown at the Los Angeles Film Festival and will receive online distribution by Netflix.