Yesterday The Hollywood Reporter ran a story about Horsethief Pictures, a new production banner started by former Paypal Exec. Jack Shelby and two filmmakers, Tiller Russell and Duncan Montgomery. The most interesting piece of the news is that this new interactive production, digital distribution and marketing company plans to release 2-3 films a year, and will encourage audiences to participate in every phase of the moviemaking process from development to production, distribution and marketing.

Their first feature is a little flick called The Last Rites of Ransom Pride. It will star Lizzy Caplan, Peter Dinklage, Dwight Yoakam, Jason Priestly, Scott Speedman and Kris Kristofferson star in the story of a woman trying to bring her murdered outlaw lover home for burial.

We’ve received an exclusive character trailer for Juliette, the gun-toting central character played by True Blood and Cloverfield star Lizzy Caplan. It introduces her as a woman on a mission, who appears to run into some trouble along the way. Check it out below.

What is interesting about this new production company (and truly interesting, not just interesting because they gave us an exclusive clip) is that they appear to really be into fan involvement. They’ve already started a viral campaign at WhoKilledtheDwarf.com, a website dedicated to the character of The Dwarf, played by Peter Dinklage. They will also be reaching out to fans via Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social networking sites, including having the actors reach out directly.

But that’s not all. There are also these two very interesting (and somewhat dangerous) bits of interactivity:

  • Horsethief is launching a unique songwriting contest, where fans can submit their own original songs. Fans will vote and select the winner and the announcement will be made by Grammy winning American singer-songwriter and star of The Last Rites of Ransom Pride Dwight Yoakam. The winner will have their song placed in the official movie trailer.
  • Horsethief has kicked off a comic book creation contest, where fans can submit their ideas for the comic book based on the script, the winner will be chosen by Ben Edlund, writer of “The Tick” and will receive a first look deal with Horsethief Pictures.

So, if you’re (a) an aspiring songwriter or (b) a comic writer who wants to get a first look movie deal, this might be your chance. It is a fascinating approach to building a film slate, one that could find varied quality, but also one that celebrates unfound talent. If it works, it will certainly be looked upon as a unique model of film production — and one that fits in with the user-created culture brought on by the internet. I’m unsure as to whether it will work (the videos I see on YouTube daily tell me not to get my hopes up), and I’m unsure as to whether this could be profitable, but I’m certainly interested in keeping an eye on the situation. And I’ve got a thing for Lizzy Caplan, so it won’t be too bad in the end.

For more on the film, you can check out LastRitesFilm.com.


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