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CULLING A SCREENPLAY FROM THE WEB

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who went from obscurity to celebrity for their 1997 screenplay "Good Will Hunting," will use the Internet to help launch the career of an aspiring filmmaker.

The two friends have joined with Miramax and HBO to launch Projectgreenlight.com -- the Hollywood phrase used for approving production of a film.

"We wish there was something like this when we were trying to break in," Damon said.

Starting Monday, contestants can submit an original screenplay online and join with other budding filmmakers to help choose the winner. The winning screenplay will be announced in March. Miramax will supply a $1 million budget and release the film in theaters.

Damon and Affleck will be co-executive producers of the film. Although the actors didn't rule out starring in the winning film, they would have to take a significant salary cut to keep the movie within its budget.

The contest will run through Oct. 22. Until then, contestants can talk about filmmaking in chat rooms on the Web site, a feature the producers say will lend guidance and support to otherwise solitary screenwriters.

"At the very least, you will get feedback," Affleck said. "Ideally, everyone gets something out of this."

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