For Immediate Release 8/16/16
Stacey Ford Osborne
VM Productions takes film noir to new levels with behind-the-scenes documentary
Post-Production Crew Details Investigation Into Screenwriter’s Disappearance through Social Media
Los Angeles — Los Angeles’ VM Productions is taking the film noir genre to new levels with their post-production treatment of the real life story-within-a-story featured in their production, Dostoyevsky Reimagined: The Making of the Award-Winning Notes from the New World and the subsequent 19-part series, The Missing Screenwriter: Robert Hurley’s Story.
Dostoyevsky Reimagined is a behind-the-scenes documentary that tells the story of writer/director Vitaly Sumin, who has a script, a location, a vision, and no budget. But we learn through the course of the film that Sumin has been down this road before; his critically acclaimed previous film, Shades of Day, was an LA story based on another Dostoyevsky novella, White Nights. Since he did it once, everyone assumed, he could do it again - until a tsunami of unforeseen challenges threatened to tear his new project to shreds.
A major storyline the documentary attempts to investigate is related to the disappearance of Robert Hurley. Sumin, the CEO of VM Productions, relates the story thusly:
In a strange case of Truth is Stranger than Fiction, a Los Angeles-based Screenplay writer Robert Hurley (26) has vanished, and his mafia and occult connections suspected in the disappearance seem to mirror the characters in the award winning film titled Notes From The New World (US -2011) for which he wrote the first draft. Could Robert ever be found? Judge by yourself.
The multiple award-winning film Notes from the New World is a contemporary retelling of Dostoyevsky's Notes from the Underground. The story unfolds in Los Angeles where dreams and harsh realities collide, a place where almost everyone spies on everyone else, and everyone seems to be playing a dangerous game. Steven, the young protagonist of the movie, is torn between the loves of two women: an actress and the prostitute related to the Russian criminals.
Here’s what happened during the pre-production of the film:
Screenwriter Robert Hurley, co-writer of the film Notes from the New World, disappeared along with the only copy of the shooting script containing director Vitaly Sumin’s handwritten notes.
At first, Sumin suspects that the screenwriter is holding the shooting script hostage in order to inflate his credit in the final film. But another theory soon comes to the forefront—namely, that Hurley had run into trouble while researching the script. Both Dostoevsky’s original story and the script delve into issues of human degradation and the underbelly of society.
Sumin launches an in-house investigation, to be carried out by key members of the film’s cast and crew. Events are documented on video as they unfold. These include the discovery of Hurley’s romantic obsession with the film’s leading actress - and of his involvement with a prostitute with connections to the Russian Mafia. The plot further thickens when he’s also discovered to have ties to a secret spiritual cult in a plot twist reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code.
The Missing Screenwriter: Robert Hurley’s Story also captures a film project on the brink. In the course of the investigation, property is damaged and stolen, threatening messages are received demanding that the film be stopped, colleagues come under suspicion, and key members of the cast and crew choose to abandon the production as events careen to an unexpected conclusion.
The startling raw footage is proof positive that truth—or at least the appearance of truth - is indeed stranger than fiction:
The edited documentary material, divided into 19 exciting episodes (while only a few of them are currently available for the public viewing), became the winner of the 14th International Festival of Detective Films in Moscow:
The previous individual attempts by the members of cast and crew to investigate Robert’s motives are featured in online blog posts by John Fortin, Josh Poppen, Colin Walsh and the others:
In VM Productions video blogs by Henry Palmer, Ngoma Evelyn Moghalu, and Christophe Parker, the investigation continues:
VM Productions post-production bloggers Shari Burckhardt, Lauren Saccone and recently Mark Salcido have picked up where the previous researchers left off.
Their blog posts delve into the behind-the-scenes story presented in the documentary, and in their media posts Shari, Lauren and Mark keep the followers on their toes as they relay the information they learn about the disappearance of the writer and the mysterious events occurring in their own lives as a result of their investigation. All of this has the effect of drawing fans further into an already compelling, baffling story:
VM Productions is dedicated to the art of independent filmmaking. The company develops and produces quality films based on original stories and the masterpieces of world literature. The creative team behind VM Productions admires the great artists of all times. The richness and complexity of their existence and the discoveries they made to help humanity move forward toward a better understanding of life, death, peace and coexistence serve as the source of their inspiration.
For additional information regarding the Hurley mystery, our films, or information about upcoming US screenings, please contact Stacey Osborne at 713-456-9429 stacey[at]vmpfilms[dot]com. You can learn more about VM Productions online at www.vmpfilms.com.