Indiana native 3 minutes from HBO contest victory

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — “Marriage Council” got a green light for the finals.

The three-minute bachelor party comedy from South Bend native Sean Patrick Murphy was voted into the Top 10 of “Project Greenlight’s” contest to find the next up-and-coming filmmaker.

The HBO TV series produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon announced its Top 10 finalists Saturday — 12 finalists, actually, including a tie and leading Top 20 vote-getter Mark Manalo, who automatically qualified for the finals because his film, “Present Trauma,” received the most votes from the public.

“I’m just excited,” Murphy told the South Bend Tribune Sunday by phone from his home near Los Angeles.

“Marriage Council” — a three-minute comedy set at a bachelor party that features married pals who “test” their soon-to-be married buddy with a stripper — landed in the finals of this season’s “Project Greenlight” following an online vote.

Murphy and each of the 12 finalists now are set to receive the same scripted story line to develop into their own three-minute film for final judging by the show’s producers. The grand prize is an opportunity to direct a full-length major motion picture for HBO-Miramax.

“We’ll have the script (Monday),” Murphy said, noting he plans to use the same acting crew from “Marriage Council” for his “Project Greenlight” final.

Murphy, 42, a graduate of St. Joseph High School who earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Marquette University, has appeared in nearly 50 national television commercials and several TV shows, including “NCIS: LA,” ”Criminal Minds,” ”The Mentalist” and “Scorpion.”

He has also appeared in the films “California Winter,” ”Thank You For Smoking,” ”Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman” and the Oscar-winning “Avatar.” And Murphy wrote, produced and directed “Poop Notice,” an eight-episode Web series put out last year.

“We know it’s a comedy,” Murphy says about the script he and the other finalists will receive. “That works to my strength.”

Murphy directed himself and four others in “Marriage Council,” a script he wrote 10 years ago that was put “on the backburner” so he could pursue other writing projects. He plays the soon-to-be groom. The script was pulled from the shelf earlier this year when Murphy read that “Project Greenlight” was seeking one-scene videos for the upcoming HBO season.

During a phone interview last month after “Marriage Council” reached “Project Greenlight’s” Top 20, Murphy said he took the longer script and cut it down to adhere to the competition’s rule that each film must be less than three minutes.

Murphy also tailored the film short’s rugged language and risqué subject matter for the HBO cable audience.

All final entries, Murphy said, will be submitted by the end of October.

The winner will be announced in November.

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Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com

 

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