Duo join Web site in development of feature

MySpace is teaming with Film4 and Vertigo Films to bankroll a £1 million ($1.96 million) British movie, with the director to be chosen via a competition on the social networking Web site.

The filmmaker will be picked by a combination of a celebrity jury and an online vote for shorts posted on MySpace. Site users then will be invited to contribute to the development, casting and marketing decisions. Pic is scheduled to shoot in October for completion by summer 2008.

MySpace initiated the project, dubbed MySpace Movie MashUp, and approached Vertigo and Film4 to come aboard as financing, producing and distribution partners.

Contest will launch Wednesday at a party in central London. Any U.K. resident, whether an established director or a complete newcomer, will be eligible to submit a short to a dedicated section of the MySpace Web site through April 27.

These entries then will be whittled down by the partners to a shortlist of around a dozen. The final three will be selected by a jury that includes actors Sienna Miller and Ashley Walters; directors Anthony Minghella, Nick Love and Kevin Macdonald; and producers Stephen Woolley and Andrew Macdonald.

Winner will be chosen by vote among MySpace users. The backers then will work with the chosen director to pick a suitable project — either choosing from scripts already in development at Vertigo or Film4, assigning an experienced writer to collaborate with the director on something new or considering a project brought by the director.

“Until you know what sort of director you’re going to get, it’s difficult to know if a British thriller or an improvised comedy would be more appropriate,” said Film4 exec Peter Carlton.

MySpace users will be invited to participate in the development process by commenting on script drafts, suggesting lines and choosing the title. They also will be able to put themselves forward for acting roles in the movie.

Although distribution plans have not yet been finalized, the end product is likely to be released theatrically by Vertigo, with a near-simultaneous online release via MySpace and Film4’s video-on-demand service.

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