Calling all Stolen Summer and The Battle of Shaker Heights fans! [Crickets.] Um, okay…calling all Project Greenlight fans! Ah, now we’ve got your attention. After HBO dropped the Matt Damon — Ben Affleck-produced reality series — which chronicles fledgling writers and directors and the studio execs who hate them — last year, Greenlight junkies thought they’d never again get to see choleric producer Chris Moore verbally eviscerate some poor underling. Fortunately, Bravo picked up Project, and the writing-directing competition kicked off this month. (The show got an assist from moneybags sponsor Hewlett-Packard, which is currently running its own online contest to select Greenlight’s set photographer.) EW caught up with Damon and Moore to dish on the third season, which premieres in early 2005.
EW Why Bravo?
MOORE We want to make Project Greenlight more available to the public. And I’m not saying that HBO did not, but HBO is in 33 million homes while Bravo is in 75 million.
DAMON Bravo was the most interested of all the other channels. And in terms of the content, we don’t have to change like we might have to at a network.
EW But you are changing what you’re looking for in the submissions.
MOORE We’re gonna steer it more toward genre movies, either a horror movie, a thriller, or a comedy. We didn’t do [Greenlight] as a charity — we’re doing it to prove that these people could actually make movies that people want to see.
DAMON It’s representative of what the business is really like. As a company we look very hard at a movie to see if there’s an upside for us. [Miramax] ate a lot of money the last few years — it’s a million dollars on their side, and they just can’t give that money away.
MOORE It’s usually 2 million.
EW Will you still be looking for amateur writers and directors, or are you opening up the field to folks with more experience?
MOORE We have loosened up a few of the rules — we’re allowing people who worked in television or commercials [to enter]. But I would argue — and I think Matt would agree — that the sets [run by] experienced people aren’t that different.
DAMON The way we read and pitched the show initially a few years ago was if you document the moviemaking experience on any of the sets we’ve ever been on, we promise it would make the most compelling television you’ve ever seen. The stuff that happened on Pete Jones’ and Efram and Kyle’s movies is nothing compared to the stuff we went through on some movies I’ve been on.
EW Are you going to be as involved in season 3 as you have been in the past?
DAMON For me, I probably won’t be able to be physically there until I’m done with Ocean’s Twelve. But I’m still gonna read the top 50 scripts and be a part of all this by phone, the deliberations and stuff to get to the eventual contest winner.
MOORE I may not be. I’ve never actually done a horror movie or a thriller. I’ve never directed a movie or written a movie. So one of the ideas was to try to find…somebody who made that kind of genre to produce the movie, like Wes Craven.