I first heard about the Starz original series The Chair a few weeks ago, when a /Filmcast listener suggested it to me. The novel approach of the show was intriguing: Give two directors the same script, provide them a modest budget to direct their first indie film, and allow them each to have final cut. The director who made the better film (according to survey data) would receive $200,000.

The Chair is an essential resource for any beginning filmmaker. Not only is it addictive as hell to see two new filmmakers take their films in dramatically different directions — and the victories and failures that come with that — it also provides a great overview of the hundreds of choices that go into making a film. I dove into the show headfirst and finished the entire series within a week.

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Chair producers Josh Shader and Chris Moore (the latter of whom also produced films such as American Pie and Good Will Hunting). The full podcast is coming soon, but one of the things we talked about during our interview and over email were what mistakes first-time filmmakers make. Some of these lessons are derived not just from The Chair but from the producers’ experiences on other films. Hit the jump to see what they suggest. You can watch The Chair on Starz digital or buy it on Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play.
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The Chair

We’ve talked a bunch about the return of Project Greenlight to HBO, but we haven’t really featured the new filmmaking series coming soon on Starz. The Chair is a new docuseries created by Chris Moore, the Executive Producer of Project Greenlight and Co-Producer of Good Will Hunting. The Starz “original filmmaking experiment” follows two first-time directors, Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci, who are given the opportunity to direct separate films adapted from the same original screenplay (How Soon Is Now written by Dan Schoffer). The series will document the creation, marketing and theatrical release of both films (which yes, will also air on Starz). The thing I find interesting about this series is that it will show how two different filmmakers approach the same exact material from start to finish.
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project greenlight

One of the most underrated reality series is HBO’s Project Greenlight. The show, executive produced and judged by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, began in 2001. The premise was that producers waded through submissions from filmmakers and screenwriters, then paired the best in each category to make a movie. Three feature length movies were made as a result of the show. The series launched the careers of Saw writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, horror director John Gulager, and featured a young Shia LaBeouf, among others. Unfortunately, the reality series never really hit with mainstream audiences and HBO let it go after three seasons.

That’ll change soon though as Damon and Affleck are now bringing back the reality competition for a new decade. One person who won’t be involved, however, is another Project Greenlight producer: Chris Moore. He’s currently working on a similar film-centric reality series called The Chair for Starz. Read about both shows below. Read More »