September 9, 2009, 12:00 AM

Netflix gives an aspiring young filmmaker a shot at the big time

After nine months of competition, Netflix has selected Philip G. Flores as the winner of the Netflix FIND Your Voice filmmaking competition. Flores has been awarded a $350,000 package to produce a feature-length film of his script, Touchback.

After nine months of competition, Netflix Inc. has selected aspiring filmmaker Philip G. Flores as the winner of the Netflix FIND Your Voice filmmaking competition.

Earlier this year, Netflix joined forces with Film Independent (FIND), the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, to discover and assist an independent filmmaker. Judged by a jury of film industry veterans, Flores’ winning film project, Touchback, will now be produced as a feature-length film. It is scheduled to premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2010 and concurrently be available for streaming instantly from Netflix.

“We are delighted to give Philip an opportunity to bring Touchback to life,” says Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, No. 18 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. “It was the goal of the Netflix FIND Your Voice competition to give talented filmmakers a platform for their work, and we are gratified to have achieved that through this project.”

As the winner of the competition, Flores will receive a prize package valued at more than $350,000 to produce Touchback. The award includes a $150,000 cash production grant funded by Netflix, a camera package donated by Panavision, film from Kodak and more. FIND will provide advice and mentorship to Flores.

After the announcement of the contest in January 2009, the competition received more than 2,000 applications and scripts from aspiring filmmakers. FIND identified 10 semifinalists, who were each asked to submit a two- to three-minute video short related to the project they were proposing. The applicants had to be first-time filmmakers who had not yet created and publicly screened a full-length, narrative feature film of at least 70 minutes.

Through a public voting process on the competition’s web site, the six films with the highest number of votes were selected to go to the final round. A winner was selected by a judging panel of filmmakers and entertainment industry veterans, including Josh Brolin, John Sayles, Dustin Lance Black, Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks and Stephanie Allain.

In other Netflix news, the company on Oct. 3 will air online for free the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz. Anyone, not just Netflix members, will be able to stream the film online at between 9 am Eastern Time and 9 am the following day. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the film, which will be reissued later this month on DVD.

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