iOS app Android app More

'First Winter' Deer Killing: Indie Film Under Fire For Controversial Shooting

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 04/17/2012 5:47 pm Updated: 04/18/2012 5:47 pm

First Winter Deer Killing

From the files of "no publicity is bad publicity," comes word about a growing controversy surrounding the indie thriller "First Winter."

The film, which is set to debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, focuses on a group of Brooklyn hipsters who head to the country for some relaxation and get pushed to their limits when an apocalyptic event leaves them cut off from society -- if there's any society left. The group must contend with the frigid elements and their growing hunger -- the latter of which is no longer an issue after they hunt and kill a deer. The problem? The filmmakers actually killed two deer, and that could get them in trouble with New York State environmental authorities.

"We are idiots. We didn't know how to do this [hunting] stuff," director Ben Dickson told Manhattan-based site "There were so many deer weak from the winter and getting eaten by local dogs we didn't even think about it."

One of Dickson's actors, Paul Manza, pulled the trigger during the hunt, which led to the deaths. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, all hunters need a permit, which can only be acquired after completing an extensive class.

A hunter education course is required for persons who cannot show proof that they have ever possessed a hunting license. The general course is a minimum 10 hours in length. DEC honors hunter education certificates and sporting licenses from all other states and countries.

The DEC is looking into the matter, per It is unclear whether Manza had a pass.

As for Dickson, in an interview with the Tribeca Film Festival, he allowed that the deer killing could have been faked.

"[I]n the end, I was convinced that it had to be authentic, and I was prepared to change the story if need be," he said. "I would recommend dressing an animal to anyone, especially if you eat meat or wear leather; it changes your perspective."

"First Winter" debuts at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 19. For more on the controversy, including what kind of fine the filmmakers could face if the DEC finds they were in the wrong, head over to

UPDATE: The Tribeca Film Festival has canceled red carpet plans for "First Winter," but that might not be connected to the report. "The festival cancels many red carpets," said the film's publicist when asked for comment. Read more here.

[via @devinfaraci]

PHOTOS: 13 Anticipated Tribeca Film Festival Features

  • "The Five-Year Engagement"

    The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival kicks off with Jason Segel's latest romcom. Sure, it takes place in San Francisco and Michigan, but "The Five-Year Engagement" owes more to New York-based classics "Annie Hall" and "When Harry Met Sally" than anything else. Emily Blunt, Alison Brie and Chris Pratt co-star in the film, which arrives for mass consumption on April 27. [PHOTO: Glen Wilson]

  • "Your Sister's Sister"

    Speaking of Emily Blunt, she co-stars with Mark Duplass and Rosemarie DeWitt in Lynn Shelton's "Your Sister's Sister." The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, focuses on a man mourning the loss of his brother, who winds up having a one night stand with his brother's ex-girlfriend's sister. Confusing! Blunt and DeWitt play siblings, which is almost as good as Blunt and Brie playing siblings in "Five-Year Engagement." [PHOTO: Benjamin Kasulke]

  • "Benji"

    Seventeen-year-old Ben Wilson was a star high school basketball player in Chicago before his life was tragically cut short in 1984. "Benji" comes from co-directors Coodie and Chike, best known for their work on music videos for Kanye West and Mos Def. [PHOTO: AP]

  • "Knuckleball!"

    Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg ("Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work") return to the Tribeca Film Festival with "Knuckleball!" which tells the story of the famed baseball pitch, currently used to great success by New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey. [PHOTO: Charles Miller]

  • "Cheerful Weather For The Wedding"

    Everyone loves Felicity Jones ("Like Crazy"), including the character played by Luke Treadway in this adaptation of Julia Strachey's 1932 novel. The only problem? Jones' character isn't engaged to Treadway's devil-may-care gentleman caller. [PHOTO: Mark Tillie]

  • "The Giant Mechanical Man"

    Jenna Fischer ("The Office") stars in this romcom as a down-on-her-luck woman who falls for the title character -- a street performer played by indie darling Chris Messina. "Mechanical Man" is a Tribeca release and will also be available on VOD. [PHOTO: Tribeca]

  • "Francophrenia"

    James Franco's meta documentary about his time on "General Hospital" is one of the Tribeca Film Festival's biggest curios. "It's called 'Francophrenia,' but it's not me trying to get my story across in a clear way or even look good," Franco told THR. "I f---ing hate that hair I have in it, I cringe every time I see it -- but it's a way for me to kind of, I think, call some people out, but also just make my own comments on it." Sounds confounding! [PHOTO: Doug Chamberlain]

  • "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey"

    A chronicle of Arnel Pineda, a Filipino man who became the lead singer of Journey. Don't stop believin', y'all [PHOTO: Ninfa Z. Bito]

  • "Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story"

    A documentary that spans over 40 years. In 1965 Frank DeFelitta made a short film about racism in the American South; forty years later, his son, filmmaker Ray DeFelitta ("City Island") looks at the tragedy that surrounded his father's film. [PHOTO: Danielle Anderson]

  • "Lola Versus"

    Indie It-Girl Greta Gerwig stars as Lola, a put-together almost-30-year-old woman who gets dumped by her fiance ("The Killing's" Joel Kinnaman) right before her wedding. Director by Daryl Wein and co-written by Wein and Zoe-Lister Jones ("Breaking Upward"), "Lola Versus" could be the "(500) Days of Summer" of 2012. Fox Searchlight will release the indie comedy in June. [PHOTO: Myles Aronowitz]

  • "Knife Fight"

    Rob Lowe returns to his "West Wing" roots as a political strategist in "Knife Fight," a drama about how politics doesn't have to be down and dirty. [PHOTO: Angeline Herron]

  • "Deadfall"

    Genre fun! Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde and Charlie Hunnam star in this heist thriller gone way wrong. Think: "A Simple Plan" by way of John Frankenheimer. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Stefan Ruzowitzky directs. [PHOTO: Jonathan Wenk]

  • "The Avengers"

    Nothing says "indie film festival" like "The Avengers"? "Showing at Tribeca is both an honor and a double homecoming for me, who grew up in Manhattan, and for the movie, which wrapped production there," said director Joss Whedon when the screening was announced. "I'm thoroughly psyched to be closing the festival with our intimate little think-piece." Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Renner, "The Avengers" hits theaters on May 4. [PHOTO: Zade Rosenthal]

Also on HuffPost: