Fri 8.1.2014

Calling All Undiscovered Directors: Project Greenlight is Back!

Ben and Matt

Ten years ago, a couple bro’s named Matt and Ben jumped on the fast-rising reality TV wave with a show called Project Greenlight. The premise: give a wannabe filmmaker a shot at the big time by handing him a million bucks to direct a movie. The catch? Every one of the director’s missteps and mistakes, every time a crew member rolls her eyes behind his back, every time the producer rakes him over the coals… all of it will be captured on camera and turned into a reality show for the world to see.

If you missed that first go-round, here’s a taste of the kind of chaos that ensued: Hapless-but-cuddly director John Gulager decides to cast his family as the leads in his film, and to prove what an awesome idea this is, he schemes to shoot a screen test and fly to New York to personally convince Bob Weinstein (Miramax was one of the producers). Beleaguered producer Chris Moore catches wind of the plan and promptly has a cow. “I guarantee when you get hired to shoot a wedding video you don’t call them up and say, “Hey can my brother be the groom!?,” Moore scolds a cowering Gulager, “You don’t call them up and say, ‘Hey can my girlfriend be the bride!?’”

Now Damon and Affleck are at it again. “Clearly we haven’t had any new ideas in the intervening 13 years,” says Affleck in a promo video. Project Greenlight, the reboot, is now on the hunt for a first-time director who’s willing to go behind and in front of the camera at the same time. To apply—the deadline is Friday August 8—submit a three-minute short video on (Only DGA members and individuals who have already made a feature that was acquired and distributed for pay are excluded.) “The competition is going to be tough,” says Marc Joubert, co-founder of Adaptive Studios, which is executive producing the series for HBO. Joubert was a producer of the original series and Miramax is back on board as well. Joubert says they expect to receive thousands of submissions.

The winner will be selected through a four-round process. Anyone can register as a judge during round one and vote. Subsequent rounds whittle the contestants down to ten finalists, who will find out they made the cut when Matt and Ben personally call with congrats.

Those finalists will be flown to LA to go through a day and a half of interviews with a judging panel, including Matt and Ben, and at that point they are given the final hoop to jump through: all will be given a month to direct the same three pages of script. That work will be judged by a jury of industry veterans—yes, again with Matt and Ben.

The ultimate winner will be handed the reins to a studio feature—this time, unlike in the original Greenlight, from a “Hollywood-vetted” script.

Of course there have been seismic shifts in the independent film world since Greenlight gave its first green light a decade ago; new technology, the internet and social media have conspired to give anyone and everyone the power to finance, make and distribute a movie nowadays, but what hasn’t changed is the pressure-cooker atmosphere of a studio film set. Targeted to air on HBO in early 2015, Project Greenlight will chronicle the highest highs and lowest lows of the winner’s rollercoaster ride from pre-production all the way through post. “There’s drama on every set,” says Joubert. Throw in the mix a first-timer and get the A-list talent looking over one shoulder and the HBO cameras looking over the other shoulder, he says, and that adds to the drama.

Just ask John Gulager.

Pamela Miller / Website & Grants Manager