Bunim-Murray Prods.’ documentary film unit is teaming with producer James Scurlock (“Maxed Out”) and director Alexis Spraic for a film bio of the late Larry Hillblom, the globalization pioneer who founded shipping giant DHL.
Hillblom disappeared after a 1995 plane crash. With no body ever recovered, a massive battle erupted over his estate.
Project follows “Autism: The Musical,” the acquisition that launched BMP Films last year. “Autism” premiered at Tribeca and was bought by HBO Documentary Films.
With the untitled Scurlock-Spraic project, BMP is getting involved in the filmmaking process at the start.
“We’re coming in earlier on this one because we have so much faith in it,” said BMP Films veep Sasha Alpert. “We saw a small amount of film, and that convinced us it was going to be a great project.”
“It’s very different than (‘Autism’), but we responded to it in the same way because it’s a good story,” she added.
As Hillblom built his empire in the pre-FedEx world of overnight shipping — toppling postal monopolies from the U.S. to Germany in the process — he moved to the U.S. territory of Saipan, where he became an important power broker. He fathered several illegitimate children with local women, some prostitutes.
Alpert and Scurlock will produce the pic, with Spraic directing. Jonathan Murray and Submarine’s Josh Braun will exec produce, with Gil Goldschein serving as co-exec producer.
As he did with “Maxed Out,” Scurlock is writing a book to accompany the movie about Hillblom. Both are expected to arrive early next year.
“Autism,” which had its HBO TV premiere earlier this week, played at numerous festivals and won the top prize at the 2007 Newport Film Festival. It also won audience awards at Palm Springs, Ft. Lauderdale and Mill Valley.
BMP Films parent Bunim-Murray Prods. is the reality factory known for skeins from “The Real World” to “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
Scurlock wrote and directed “Maxed Out,” the 2006 documentary that explored the predatory lending practices of credit card companies. Spraic co-produced and edited that project.