Could a local filmmaker best known for low-budget slashers get the attention of Oscar-winners Ben Affleck and Matt Damon? Sean Haitz, the filmmaker behind Mangrove Slasher 2, hopes so.
The duo of superstars, who jointly won an Academy Award for Best Writing for the 1997 independent hit Good Will Hunting, is launching a new season of Project Greenlight. The television show aired for three seasons in the early 2000s, and will return with a fourth season on HBO, and last week started accepting three-minute video submissions from young directors looking to get feature concepts turned into full-length films.
Haitz right now is finishing up his work on a submission, the thriller Bloody Violet. He has been in Los Angeles networking and calling in favors just to pull the teaser together. “It’s basically a psychological thriller,” he said, promising more serious fare than the schlockfest of Slasher. “It is about two people with intertwined lives. One is a struggling actress with a broken family background, trying to make it out here because she started in Florida, got a commercial, and agent and got some things going in Florida, and like a million other people, thought she could be an actress.” The other character, without revealing too much, ends up bearing witness to a crime committed by the first character.
The story clearly has some of Haitz’s own backstory mixed in, though his own background includes no overly gruesome acts quite like that of the character in the film. It does include Slasher, which debuted to sold out audiences at the Sarasota Film Festival in 2011. That film reveled in a lack of seriousness modeled alongside such cult classics as The Toxic Avenger. “It was a massacre party movie,” he recalls. “It didn’t matter that people were dying.” Even the sequel signature (no Mangrove Slasher 1 exists) played on irreverence.
Haitz has followed his horror routes from there, and has been at work on Big Top Terror, a film co-directed with Slasher partner Chris Potter
This film, though, is influences more by legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, telling the story of character’s with relatable, if somewhat dubious, personal histories as they get thrust into a horror-laced start arc.
The entry period for Project Greenlight‘s new season started last Thursday and runs through August 8.