Miramax Home Entertainment's Project Greenlight is a 4-Disc collector's series that includes the 12-part HBO hit documentary series, the unveiling of the movie Stolen Summer and more than 6-hours of bonus materials. Project Greenlight began as an Internet competition (staged by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Chris Moore) held to find a script to produce. Out of more than 10,000 entries, former insurance salesman Pete Jones was selected. Jones not only got to direct the film, but was also given a $1 million budget from Miramax Films and a guaranteed theatrical release. The series chronicled how Jones, a first-time director, had to manage the difficulties involved in making his movie.
For all of its controversial manipulations of reality, Project Greenlight
offers a revealing, pragmatic look at the pressure cooker of film production. Originally broadcast during the HBO 2001 to 2002 season, this 12- part series chronicles the premiere contest--conceived by coproducers Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Chris Moore--that resulted in 30-year-old Pete Jones being plucked from obscurity, out of 10,000 contestants, to direct his winning screenplay, Stolen Summer
, as a professionally crewed feature film distributed by Miramax Films (included in this set; see separate review
). The series gained notoriety for emphasizing the negative (backstabbing, budgetary battles, onset crises, etc.), but it's also a definitive nuts-and-bolts exposé of the filmmaking process--stripped of glamour, emotionally intense, and daunting to anyone without a steel-plated constitution.
Key personnel emerge as admirably tenacious in their given roles, from the commanding presence of Chris Moore; the frictional yet ultimately cooperative dynamic between executive producer Pat Peach and coproducer Jeff Balis; the rally-the-troops efficiency of 1st Assistant Director Bruce Terris; and many other crucial crew members. Through it all, Jones shows his inexperience but rises to the occasion, earning the respect of those who could easily have dismissed him as a lucky amateur. The series' editorial weaknesses are readily apparent, and the postproduction process (especially the creation of a musical score) is woefully underrepresented, but Project Greenlight is a riveting and altogether encouraging primer for anyone who shares Pete Jones's dream. --Jeff Shannon