It’s funny to think about how much the process of filmmaking has changed in just ten years. “Film” as a medium is nearly a thing of the past and direct to the Internet and streaming options is causing studios to reinvent the film development formula. Still, some of the established processes still work within the big machine of high budget filmmaking. One of the most interesting things about watching a new season of Project Greenlight ten years after the show originally aired are the things that have changed in the filmmaking process and the things that are still the same.
The show is exactly the same as it always was if a little streamlined. Producers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have partnered with HBO this time around to have the winner of their contest direct a film to be premiered on HBO rather than in theaters. Their Good Will Hunting cohort Chris Moore sadly did not return for this new season of the show. In previous seasons the group picked both a writer and director to work together on a film. This time the series starts with an already written comedy script and mentorship from the Farrelly brothers.
This series was super innovative in 2001 when it originally premiered. Now it’s not as innovative but it is just as addictive. The first two episodes did feel as though they glossed over the contest portion of the process just a little too much but once the process of filmmaking begins the show is riveting. Netflix has spoiled me though: when each episode ends I feel like I immediately want more! Waiting from week to week is painful! Pete Jones, the writer and director of Stolen Summer, a really horrible Project Greenlight film from a previous season is back to co-write revisions to the script and also mentor the new director through the process.
Sadly, the series has never yielded a great movie. The reasons are obvious in the selection process in the first episode. Damon and Affleck always go for the most artistic filmmaker, not the best filmmaker for the type of film they hope to make. The winner this season seems to do dark, super indie films and they want to make a super broad comedy. It feels like a little series medaling maybe; drama happens when you shove a square peg in a round hole. Right away he wants to shoot on film when the budget doesn’t allow for film. Affleck still shoots his own movies on film so he is encouraging which works completely against the studio and production team. There we have some drama.
As I write this we are only two episodes in and I can say that there are some reality show elements in the series but there’s real meat on the bone. Project Greenlight is sure to enlighten the uninitiated to the trials and tribulations of getting a medium budgeted film made within the studio system.