When Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Chris Moore and Alex Keledjian teamed up to create Project Greenlight in 2001 (which ran on HBO for two seasons and then on Bravo for season 3), the entertainment business was a vastly different place that matched up nicely with a behind the scenes and unscripted look into the herculean effort that goes into making independent films.
This compatibility was due, in large part, to the indie film movement of the ’90s that had made rockstars out of filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez and both Affleck and Damon, who were launched into the mainstream by the success of Good Will Hunting. But as Project Greenlight gets ready to return to HBO for a season 4, there are a lot of questions.
Announced back in late April, Project Greenlight will see the return of Affleck (who looks massive and stubbled in Batman mode for the above video) and Damon as producers (Chris Moore is working on the similarly themed The Chair for Starz and is not involved in this project), but it seems like everything else has now changed.
For starters, this iteration of Project Greenlight is focusing only on finding a director, so aspiring screenwriters need not raise an eyebrow, lest they feel like grabbing a camera in the near future. Contestants will be given the chance to work off of a pre-selected script and submissions – which can be sent in to ProjectGreenlight.com from July 24th to August 8th – will be digital shorts that are less than 3 minutes long. While this is unfortunate for writers, it may ultimately lead to a more polished product and it takes some of the danger out of the film production – though one could also say that it makes things less interesting as well.
The other big difference is that, thanks to advances in technology and the placement of a camera in everyone’s pockets (and the lower cost of actual digital filmmaking equipment and digital editing software), “Filmmaker” is now a popular term used by both legit practitioners and hobbyists. While this means that there is no wall to hold back the truly talented from applying their skills to create great art, it also means that there is no levee to keep out the flood of the enthusiastic but less talented.
If Project Greenlight can adequately identify a truly great diamond in the rough, then for that reason alone this resurrection should be celebrated because it means that it’ll make someone’s path that much easier. But with a great idea in hand, that same filmmaker could take to Kickstarter or Indiegogo and ideally get real funding for their project. Obviously, it’s not that clear-cut and there are a lot of great ideas littering the gutter of failed crowdfund campaigns, but the point is, the general prize of Project Greenlight – making a real film – is a touch more attainable now than it was in the early aughts.
With all of that that said, the existence of social media, blog culture and streaming video may result in candidates who are more used to the marketing side of making and selling a film, the act of actually churning out product, taking criticism and collaborating with others, which means that they will be more capable of hitting the ground running.
How (and how much) Affleck and Damon work with this eventual project winner remains to be seen. But at this point, that interaction (which should be more valuable to the winner than ever before in that both Affleck and Damon have grown as filmmakers and actors since the mid-aughts) and their adaptation of the show to this new era should be as compelling an adventure as the idea of watching someone nurse a film into existence.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for future updates on Project Greenlight season 4.
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