Project Greenlight season 4

I’m a huge Project Greenlight fanatic. I’ve been watching the HBO series since it first made its debut in 2001. Actually, I even had a submission in for the second season of Project Greenlight (which was just a scene from the feature film I co-directed). This season of the HBO filmmaking “documentary” series was filled with drama, which I chatted about at length during this week’s /Filmcast.

Project Greenlight, like any reality series, shows a version of events that may or may not happened exactly as presented onscreen. 20,000 hours of footage is edited down into the four and a half hours of television that aired on HBO, and characters and storylines are streamlined and packaged to maximize the drama. So what is the reality behind the show? We’ll never know as we were there in person. But we can listen to a few of the people who were there, namely director Jason Mann and producer Effie Brown, who have commented publicly about the process.

In addition, there are a variety of things I have noticed or learned since watching this season of the show that you probably didn’t know about. So if you watched the fourth season of Project Greenlight, hit the jump to learn some information about what you might have missed.

Jason Mann Didn’t Direct The Leisure Class (2012)

After winning the competition, the second episode featured a huge twist: filmmaker Jason Mann pitched the idea of directing his own feature-length script based on a short film of his called The Leisure Class, instead of the original Not Another Pretty Woman script as planned for the competition reality series. In the episode, the producers are presented with the original short film as Mann and screenwriter Pete Jones‘ pitch to change the project. We see the producers laughing at the short film, followed by a shot of the credits showing that Jason Mann was one of six writers and the producer of the film.

But what we aren’t told is that Jason Mann did not direct the Leisure Class short. The 14-minute film which premiered at the Raindance Film Festival in London in 2013 was actually directed by a man named Richard Dewey. Not a huge deal as Jason “conceived” of the story and was one of the writers on the project, but the editing on the show seems a bit deceptive.

The short was apparently the result of an exercise Mann participated in for his first year at Columbia University for the MFA program. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Mann explains why he didn’t direct it himself:

In the first year at Columbia, they do this exercise where you swap scripts with another student. I made two films back-to-back, and I ended up collaborating on the one that I wrote, which ended up being The Leisure Class. I had cast those actors and worked with the actors. I found [actor] Tom [Bell], who I love.

When asked if he spoke with his Columbia classmates before turning the short film into a feature, Mann responded “No, it was entirely mine. The people that I had collaborated with, I had spoken to them about it, and we made sure everyone was cool with it. It was my script to do what I will with it. There was, especially with the actors in the original short, so much creation in the moment.”

The Man Who Fell Asleep During the Test Screening

During the season finale of Project Greenlight, we got a look at a test screening that was held for The Leisure Class at William Morris. While the screening began well, by the middle of the movie it seemed like no one was laughing at this dark comedy. Shots of bored audience members were shown, and then this shot of a man seemingly falling asleep during the movie.

Who is this man? George Heller, filmmaker Jason Mann’s manager at Apostle Management. I reached out to Heller for comment (maybe this was the sixth time he was screening the film?) but after his first response to me he never followed up. I’d be interested to hear what Jason Mann thought when he watched the episode and saw his own manager falling asleep during the screening of his movie.

Effie Brown

Effie Brown Loves to Say “Duly Noted”

When she’s not telling you how many films she’s produced, you may have noticed that Effie Brown seems to love to say “duly noted.” The fourth episode of the show was even titled “Duly Noted” because of this. Well, you might be interested to learn that Effie Brown’s production and consulting company is called Duly Noted Inc.

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