“Ape,” a psychological drama directed by and starring Josh Hutcherson, launched Friday alongside four other short films in a new talent-incubator series on Conde Nast Entertainment’s digital-video hub.
It’s the directorial debut of Hutcherson, best known for co-starring in the “Hunger Games” movie triology. “Ape” was produced under the Big Script, a project to find young, up-and-coming filmmakers that is a collaboration among Conde Nast Entertainment, Indigenous Media and Josh and Michelle Hutcherson’s Turkeyfoot Productions.
“Directing is something that I’ve had a passion for my whole life,” said Josh Hutcherson, who is 24 years old. “I love cinema as a whole art form, so taking all my creative ideas and externalizing that into a film is the greatest feeling in the world.”
The companies announced the five selections for the Big Script last May. Those were picked from among 2,200 scripts from the Black List, with a requirement that the main characters be in their late teens to late 20s. The Big Script films are now available exclusively on the TheScene.com (at this link).
“We recognize that there is a lack of millennial voices and formats in Hollywood,” said Condé Nast Entertainment president Dawn Ostroff. The incubator program will give the next generation of filmmakers “a platform for distribution at scale.”
The five films, which run between 12-18 minutes each, are:
- “Ape”: Written by Jon Johnstone and directed by Josh Hutcherson. A schizophrenic teen battling his demons (Hutcherson) must face the troubles of his past in order to move forward with his future.
- “Boy in a Backpack”: Written and directed by Brad Martocello. A young man signs up for a charity race with his quadriplegic brother so he can pay off a drug debt, but he soon realizes that he can’t outrun his past.
- “Crowbar Smile”: Written and directed by Jamie Mayer. A teenager’s summer job of mowing a neighbor’s lawn turns into a life-changing encounter.
- “Honor Council”: Written and directed by Scott Simonsen. High-school whodunit about a stoner teacher and the school troublemaker as they discover what it means to be honorable.
- “Lyra”: Written and directed by Djochoua Belovarski. Young-and-in-love Miriam is given an opportunity that can change her future as Earth falls apart.
Indigenous Media’s Jon Avnet, Rodrigo Garcia and Jake Avnet, along with Josh and Michelle Hutcherson, served as producers on all five films. CNE and Indigenous Media have teamed up on a second incubator, “Project: Her,” focusing exclusively on female filmmakers and mentors.
Conde Nast Entertainment’s original video programming is distributed across over 50 platforms, including web, mobile, and connected-TV devices including Apple TV, Roku and Xbox One. The unit’s content generated more than 2.9 billion video views in the past year. (Disclosure: Variety is a partner for CNE’s The Scene.)
In addition to its digital video network, CNE has six unscripted TV series released or in production, including “Last Chance U” on Netflix and “The New Yorker Presents” on Amazon Prime Video, as well as several scripted shows and movies.