Project Greenlight (2001–2005)

TV Series  |   |  Reality-TV
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The second season of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's movie making reality series goes a different route when it's two professionals realizing their vision on screen instead of just one: writer and director.

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Title: Project Greenlight (2001–2005)

Project Greenlight (2001–2005) on IMDb 7.2/10

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3   2   1   Unknown  
2005   2003   2002   2001   Unknown  
Nominated for 3 Primetime Emmys. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
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 Himself (33 episodes, 2001-2005)
...
 Himself (20 episodes, 2001-2003)
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Storyline

The second season of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's movie making reality series goes a different route when it's two professionals realizing their vision on screen instead of just one: writer and director.

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One writer. Two directors. One dream. See more »

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Reality-TV

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Release Date:

2 December 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Project Greenlight 2  »

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$1,000,000 (estimated)
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1.78 : 1
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Trivia

The entire shoot schedule had to be rearranged following the casting of 'Shia LaBeouf' in the lead role as he had a prior commitments to publicize Holes (2003). See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Contest Searchlight (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

A director nobody believes in, a script few understood and a genre critics look down on - this is great cheer-the-underdogs TV
14 May 2005 | by (www.liquidcelluloid.blog.com) – See all my reviews

Network: Bravo; Genre: Documentary, reality; Content Rating: TV-14 (for language); Available: on DVD; Classification: Contemporary (star range: 1 - 4);

Season Reviewed: Season 3 ("Feast")

After an internet contest where aspiring writers and directors submit their work, producers Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Chris Moore choose from this well of untapped talent to give someone their big break in the film business. Real documentary cameras follow the making of the movie from pre-production and scraping of finances to dealing with tight schedules and difficult actors in production to the post-production editing and screenings. The thrills and the monotony. "Project Greenlight" is back. The movie this season: "Feast", a self-referential monster movie which the enthusiastically wound-up half of the scriptwriting team, Marcus Dunstan, frighteningly describes as "Evil Dead meets Die Hard".

A lot has changed for season 3. With the "Greenlight" movies not making any money it has shifted into survival mode this time choosing to make a marketable crowd-pleaser people might actually see. For this entry Miramax has moved the show from HBO to basic cable's Bravo where the obscenities are blanked out and a wider audience can see it. The most compelling element in this "Greenlight" is that it puts our novice filmmakers in the studio system where we watch them deal with all the concessions they must make to please the studio executives.

It is healthy to be suspect of any "reality" show, but once you get past the set-up (clearly set in place here to give them an uphill battle and stir up some drama), "Greenlight" feels like the real deal. Serious, classy and seemingly authentic. It floored me how much access we are given to the inner workings of Dimension and Miramax (on the verge of a divorce with it's parent company Disney, which by the way should give the anti-Disney fanatics out there something less to complain about). Bob Weinstein doesn't make an appearance but we hear a lot about him and the office politics of the studio - much of it not exactly flattering. That Miramax was actually allowing themselves and their movies to be opened up and shown like this is refreshing. It requires a real trust in the intelligence of their audience you never see on TV.

Example. The boldest and most memorable moment comes when first-time director John Gulager, completely disillusioned at that point, pronounces that the entire movie is just a paycheck to him until he can make something he really wants too. The show then leaves us on that note until the next episode. Now that is a high-wire risk. Coming from a studio that ultimately wants people to still see this movie, to allow us to think "Feast" is garbage, that its director doesn't even believe in, for a full week is gutsy beyond words.

While screenwriter Marcus, basking in their Hollywood experience, is endlessly fun to watch, the star of this season is Gulager. The season revolves around his arc beginning as a stammering oddball who just wants people to quite asking questions and let him "make his movie" and ends with him becoming a strong, confident, apparently talented director. It is a roller-coaster, but "Greenlight" has us firmly at every emotional bank. We cringe at Gulager's inability to communicate and laugh at a rabid pursuit to get his family (including his "girlfriend of 20 years") cast in the lead roles. We feel for his desire to pull off this life-long dream, prove he isn't just a contest winner. But we also see the side of producers Michael Leahy and Joel Soisson (both of whom become great informal narrators) who fear John may ruin the picture. We feel the stress baring down on them and the release when things go well.

"Project Greenlight" is a pure product of the medium. Only a TV show can, and would, rip the curtain back from in front of our escapist entertainment like this. Like "American Idol", "Making the Band" and "Movie Magic", "Greenlight" is a reality show that is forged out of an undisputed specialty for television - clearing out the smoke and letting us behind the scenes of industries built on fantasy, imagination and a little bit of complacent denial on all of our parts to believe in "the magic of film-making". People accept that movies and music just happen and demand it be good. Ben, Matt and Moore's goal with "Greenlight" is also, no doubt, to give the audience an idea of how mammothly complex it is to get a movie together and how slapped together it often is. The show is vastly informative to a point and careful to keep most of the actual film hidden so our entire suspension of disbelief doesn't collapse. Where would be the fun in that? We get morsels here and there to bait or interest.

Who knows how "Feast" will ultimately come out, but "Project Greenlight 3" is addictive. Not only is it a voyeuristic wet-dream for movie fans, but it retains focus on the human elements and doesn't get bogged down in mechanics. Season 3 ultimately becomes a rewarding cheer-the-underdogs TV ride featuring a director nobody believes in, a script few understood, a genre critics look down on and a collection of people with their own conflicts coming together to make something bigger than themselves (and entertain the public). It captures the drive and atmosphere that causes people to become filmmakers authentically, something that would be depicted smarmy and sarcastically on most scripted shows. The thought of a horror movie being made instead of their pretentious coming-of-age drama may make the art-house snobs out there curl up at the bottom of the bathtub and wait for death, but this season is a completely different experience than the show has had before. I can't ask for anything more in a reality series.

* * * ½ / 4


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