After 10 years, HBO is reviving docuseries Project Greenlight, the competition program created by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck which follows an aspiring filmmaker from script to screen. Though Emmy nominated each of its first three seasons, the program never found took off with viewers and moved from HBO to Bravo for its third season before being pulled. This new fourth season, premiering on HBO September 13, will showcase the search for and mentoring of a first-time director. To guide the fledgling filmmaker executive producers Affleck and Damon will be joined by Peter and Bobby Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary), producer Effie Brown, industry executive Jennifer Todd, and HBO’s Len Amato.
Project Greenlight is being produced for HBO by Adaptive Studios in association with Pearl Street Films, Miramax, and Magical Elves. Adaptive Studios is a relatively young venture that seeks out abandoned or languishing intellectual property and revives it. In an interview with Publishers Weekly Adaptive’s chief creative director Marshal Lewy said, “We’re all over the map [looking for ] projects stuck in what Hollywood calls ‘development hell.’ We rescue the projects, re-imagine and reinvigorate them, and bring them to an audience, ideally in the form of a new franchise property.”
Damon and Affleck put out the call for submissions in late June with an entry period for short films (up to three minutes) ending August 8. The first episode will feature the arrival of 14 finalists in Los Angeles and a digital competition requiring them to direct a scene based on a provided script. All the finalists’ original short films are available for viewing in the Samsung Media Room on the Project Greenlight website. Competition winner Jason Mann will be followed over the next seven episodes as he casts, films, edits, and completes a full-length feature film based on a “Hollywood vetted script”.
Affleck called this season “the riskiest season we’ve ever done” and episode previews promise lots of controversy from a strong-willed, first-time director intent on control. “Within 10 seconds of getting the job he wanted to fire the writer,” says Affleck in a teaser trailer.
Whether audiences will tune in to watch the controversy, admittedly part of the draw for reality competition shows, has yet to be determined. The films produced during the first two seasons didn’t premiere in theaters for months and each pulled in less than $300,000 at the box office. Season three focused in producing a genre film from a horror screenplay which fared slightly better, pulling in just under $700,000 and spawning two sequels. This season HBO will be airing the completed film immediately following the series, hoping to maintain audience interest.
In a statement preceding the submission period Affleck said, “Project Greenlight was ahead of its time. Now that technology has caught up to the concept, we thought it was a perfect time to bring it back. A whole new generation of filmmakers has grown up sharing everything, and the next big director could be just an upload away.”