Thursday, July 2, 2009

'Hachet Man' cuts a wide swath

By Junico Simino

With a $350,000 grand prize and a guaranteed spot at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Williamsburg filmmaker Ivan Hurzeler couldn’t resist the temptation of entering his film “Hatchet Man” in the Netflix-sponsored “Find your Voice” film competition.

A short film about an ad agency employee, the premise of “Hatchet Man” may sound familiar to those who remember reading about last year’s sex tape controversy with the BBDO ad agency. Hurzeler, who was a freelancer for BBDO at the time the video came out, based his film on that incident as he tells the story of a man who always does the right thing but finds unexpected freedom when he does something bad for the first time.

The short film, a cross between a drama and comedy, stars Matt Boren and Billy Warlock of “Baywatch,” and was produced by Hurzeler’s fiance, Cami Delavigne, as well as friends Julian Katz and Alexis Fish. The film takes place in New York City.

Currently in ninth place in the Netflix competition, which accepted either trailers or short films, “Hatchet Man” was the only short among the 2,000 entries. The top 10 will be judged by the general public to determine the final five (watch and vote for it here), which will then be judged by a committee, Which is headed by actor Josh Brolin, to determine the winner.

A South Bronx native, Hurzeler has lived in Brooklyn for more than 10 years, four of which have been spent in Williamsburg. He said that most of his inspiration and help comes from his friends who all live in Brooklyn. Hurzeler has worked on such films as “Sling Blade,” “Wet Hot American Summer,” and “Origin of the Species.”

The filmmaker describes “Hatchet Man” as a piece of “American neo-realism” inspired by the American realist writers of the early 20th century. Hurzeler also cites 2005’s “Junebug” as an inspiration for the style of filmmaking he implored in his short film, which he and his fiance have put everything into to make.

“We’ve spent our entire savings” said Delavigne on producing “Hatchet Man,” which cost $10,000 and was shot in downtown Manhattan.

A Brooklyn resident for the past seven years, Delavigne has some projects of her own coming up, including the upcoming feature length comedy “Blue Valentine,” staring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, which she co-wrote.

If Hurzeler wins the grand prize, he plans on using the money to make his next project, the feature length film “Church,” also written by Delavigne.

“Her [Delavigne] script combined with my style equals something pretty unique” said Hurzeler, who added that he enjoys making “ironic” movies, while Delavigne enjoys doing comedies.

A thriller about a Christian pastor who attempts to “save his church by committing the ultimate sin,” Hurzeler describes “Church” as having “its morals in the gray area; there are no right or wrongs.” He said that part of the inspiration for “Church” comes from living in Brooklyn. He wanted to do a film that showed the similarities between people living in the city and those in the Midwest. The film teaches you to love your neighbor, no matter where they come from.

“It’s is a place where you live next to many different types of people.” Hurzeler said about living in Brooklyn, “You have to understand 20 different accents in a day.”

He hopes to complete the film by next April to have it ready for submission into the L.A. Film Festival by June 2010. And having $350,000, as well as the production and distribution help for your next film, certainly won’t hurt.

“Making a movie is like saying you want to join the NBA,” said Hurzeler. “It’s that hard.”

You can help Hurzeler reach the finals and get a shot at that top prize by voting for his film online at Voting ends July 6.


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