Many years ago, two childhood friends and actors came to Hollywood and shared an apartment. After struggling for years, the two decided to write their own script that they could star in. They finally got the script produced, starred in it and won Oscars for Best Screenplay. Unbelievable? Hardly. As you probably know, it’s the true story of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Their miraculous story inspired them to team up with producer Chris Moore and to create a contest and show called Project Greenlight that would give aspiring writers and directors a chance to fulfill their own dreams.
The Project Greenlight series aired for two seasons on HBO and then for one season on Bravo. It followed the selection process and then the actual production of the winning film — and the many travails in between. The first season caught quite a bit of attention and was quite popular. Moving forward for the second season, the series creators shook things up a bit and continued to finesse the concept into the third season. Unfortunately, the Greenlight series lost steam and viewer interest waned as time passed. After the final episode of the third season aired back on May 12, 2005, it was unclear if the series would return.
Executive producer Chris Moore (who also produced American Pie) wrote, “Last night was probably the last new episode of Project Greenlight ever. Although the movie Feast awaits release, the ratings of this year’s Project Greenlight show will not warrant bringing the show back. It is possible that Dimension will do the (Greenlight winning) movie again, which could mean there is a contest again next year. However, my gut is telling me that without the whole three-headed monster of the TV show, contest and film, there is little chance of Project Greenlight continuing.”
Well, now months later, at the recent Las Vegas premiere for the third season’s horror film Feast, executive producer Matt Damon layed the question of the series’ future to rest. “It’s dead in the water. But this film is a pretty good note to go out on.” Added fellow executive producer Ben Affleck (taking a break from promoting his current film Hollywoodland), “It’s a demonstration of how difficult it is to make a movie.”
Though the U.S. version is over, Project Greenlight Australia is already underway — in a slightly different format. At the start of the season, eight contestants/teams are chosen from over 700 registered contestants. Each week, the contestants are asked to prove their “movie-making” prowess by making short films — under tight deadlines and the pressure of being judged against their peers. At the same time they continue to work on their feature film scripts. The winner of the contest will be awarded $1million to produce their own full-length movie and a guaranteed Australian theatrical release.
Fans of the Emmy-nominated American series can check out Feast in a limited theatrical release and should be able to find it on DVD later in the year. The past Project Greenlight seasons can be found on DVD with lots of deleted scenes and extras. The third season of Greenlight will hopefully be available soon.