Back when their stars didn’t shine quite as brightly, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon produced Project Greenlight. The HBO series gave first-time writers and directors a chance to helm a feature film. The gonzo idea took a fresh-faced writer or director chosen from a pool of submissions, and taught them every step in making Hollywood feature. The show went on for three seasons before petering out, but not before creating three films, one of which starred a young Shia Labeouf. Sadly, none of them were ever remotely profitable, and the series was cancelled.
Now, seven years later, Project Greenlight is back, with Affleck and Damon returning to produce. In a new video released by HBO, a beefy, Batman-sized Affleck and regular-sized Damon introduce the newest incarnation of the series, which invites novice directors to submit a three-minute short film. The winner will direct a full-length script and lead other aspects of production.
The timing of Project Greenlight’s return seems quite apropos. In the ensuing years since the last Project Greenlight closed up shop, we as fans have developed an interesting relationship with the media we consume. Nowadays, there’s more collaboration between fans and creators than ever before. In the age of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, people seem more keen to give small-time, unproven creators new opportunities to show their mettle and create something new. Thus, we think the idea of letting the public vote on their favorite directors, and having the winner create a feature film is an idea that would flourish moreso now than it did in 2001. In fact, other Hollywood productions seem to be following similar patterns of audience participation – the recently announced Jem and the Holograms film similarly invited people to submit their own ideas and creations for the film. Perhaps the first three seasons of Project Greenlight were just ahead of their time.