Screenplay based on Ashland a finalist in Netflix contest

This month, half a dozen famous Hollywood filmmakers are reading a screenplay based on Ashland High School students.

The screenplay, adapted from an unpublished novel by Max Doty, who graduated from Ashland High School in 2000, has made it to the final round of a national film contest.

Later this month, the judges are expected to select one screenplay — out of the six in the final round — to receive a $350,000 funding package that will allow it to be made into a feature film.

"We're in a position of waiting to see what happens," Doty, 27, said from his home in San Francisco, where he works as the head writer for Electronic Arts, a company that creates computer games.

Earlier this year, Doty and his friend Phil Flores adapted the screenplay and entered it in the contest, sponsored by the online movie rental company Netflix.

In May, the screenplay was among 10 chosen — out of 2,000 submitted — for the semi-final round. Doty and Flores, who met while undergrads at Stanford University, were given three weeks to film a trailer for the film, tentatively titled "Touchback," a football term.

The trailer can be viewed online at However, it is recommended only for mature audiences, because it contains sexual references, Doty said.

For a month this summer, people could log on to the site and vote for their favorite trailers. Screenplays corresponding to the six highest-rated trailers were placed in the hands of famous filmmakers and industry executives last month.

The judges include actor Josh Brolin, who starred in "No Country for Old Men;" director and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who wrote "Milk;" and writer and director John Sayles, who has written and produced a number of independent films.

Doty's screenplay — a coming-of-age tale about two brothers — was the highest rated at the end of the online voting period, he said.

"It was a horse race at the very end," he said. "We wanted to be No. 1 and we did end up being No. 1 by about six votes.

"That was incredibly gratifying to know we had so much support from family and friends."

The screenplay tells the story of two brothers, one a freshman at Jefferson High School — "parallel to Ashland High School" — and the other a senior, Doty said.

The older brother and his friends, all football players, design a contest to see who can have sex with the most freshman girls, he said. The younger brother, who is friends with many of the girls, is appalled and begins to learn what it means to grow up — and to stand up for himself and others.

If the screenplay is made into a film, Doty hopes to shoot it at Ashland High School and elsewhere in town, he said.

"I think no matter what happens, we know we have a good screenplay and if we don't win this contest, we'll get this movie made another way," he said.

"We're going to keep fighting until the movie gets made."

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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