Filmmaking contest could become reality

Oct 7, 2002  •  Post A Comment

DaimlerChrysler is in discussions with several cable and broadcast networks about turning its film-festival contest into a limited-run TV reality series.
The car marketer has just wrapped up its first 10-month-long competition for prospective moviemakers called the “Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival.” Universal Studios and Chrysler sponsored the contest, which was created by production company Hypnotic, along with Omnicom Group’s Arnell Group and BBDO Detroit. The contest is also featured online at chrsylermdff.com.
Now Chrysler, Universal and Hypnotic are signing up for year two of the promotion. According to Doug Scott, executive VP of marketing for Hypnotic, the parties are talking to four cable networks-Vivendi Universal’s USA Networks, News Corp.’s FX, Cablevision Systems’ American Movie Classics and Comcast’s E!-about a TV series based on the film festival. Two broadcast networks are also interested, Mr. Scott said, although he declined to identify which ones.
Though USA Networks would be a natural partner since Universal Pictures is a sibling in Vivendi Universal Entertainment, a spokesman said the network is not interested in the series at this time.
Jeff Wadlow was selected as winner of the just-concluded contest, which attracted 25 entries. Mr. Wadlow will direct a feature to be distributed by Universal Studios’ Universal Focus division that will prominently feature Chrysler cars.
The plan for the reality series is to follow the second contest-a 10-month process of selecting 10 filmmakers. The program would follow the contestants’ travails in putting together five-minute films that would include one of two Chrysler models: the new Crossfire sports car or the hybrid SUV Pacifica. Five of those filmmakers will be selected to enter a final round, and the winner will develop a $1 million feature film.
Mr. Scott sees this TV series “as much more of a hands-on, competitive show, rather than a `Project Greenlight,’ which was more of a glamorous making of [a movie].”
“Project Greenlight” was an effort of Miramax Television and producers/actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon to identify an up-and-coming film director. The program ran as a limited HBO series sponsored by Sam Adams.
Chrysler is looking to deepen its involvement with the film festival. The company plans to add a TV show to the Internet and feature-length film components of the contest. Chrysler would get top billing as presenting sponsor for the show, which could launch in 2004.
“You’ve sort of got every element here-short film, feature film, TV and event-marketing platforms,” Mr. Scott said.