After many years of hiatus, Project Greenlight is back, with a series on HBO.
On September 13, 2015, HBO aired a new pilot (“Do You Want to Direct this Movie?”, 42 minutes) for the 2015 contest, where the team (led by bulked up Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) interview the top 20 candidates, in a VIP suite in a downtown Los Angeles hotel. It seems like a Saturday morning.
The candidates had to submit three-minute short films. This time around, there was no writing contest, only a directors’. Will there be a screenplay contest in 2016? I wonder. If so, an announcement would probably happen about the time of the Oscars. At least that's how it was in 2004.
The winner would get a $3 million budget to direct a “broad comedy” for HBO, called “Not a Pretty Woman”, which includes a black hooker and white pimp. (Please, bring on “Hustle and Flow”.)
Some of the contestants were teams, and clips of many shorts were shown (like “Living with Jigsaw”). Jason Mann, tall and gaunt with a crewcut, gave a bizarre interview in which he seemed to waffle on wanting to do the project. But Matt and Ben got intrigued, and probed him with questions that would have seemed more appropriate for my own film. I felt like they were doing the interview for me!
Mann’s short film had been “Delicacy”. Don’t know if this was in DC Shorts or submitted to it.
The team felt that Mann was the best filmmaker, even if risky, because he would change the comedy into something darker, more eclectic, more political, and less commercial for a broad audience with investors concerned about ratings. But they can’t resist, and name him the winner at the big event in LA.
In the elevator, Mann tells Matt and Ben that he wants to shoot on film, not video, and wants to fire the writer.
Picture: View from the bar of the Angelino Hotel on the 405, my visit to LA, 2012.
During the interviews, Damon and Affleck had mentioned that they realized diversity in casting matters (that’s going to be a problem for my own screenplay now, “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany”).
The also talked about screenwriting as a profession, the idea that movies need to hire professional writers even for very original stories from authors. It seems like they set up these interviews for me.
Then, it seems that Mann talked HBO into doing his own script, “The Leisure Class” (based on another short film script by Mann) instead.
On Oct. 11, PG aired “Picture’s Up”. In shooting the film, Mann runs into a Beverly Hills ordinance not to shoot after 9 PM. The staff tries to get signatures from homeowners for an exception. Mann is faced with rewriting a lot of the script to make the story work during the daytime. The story concerns a man trying to marry into a wealthy family, and seems to be more like a satire (on class and privilege) than conventional comedy.