It’s been nearly 15 years since Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and producer Chris Moore turned filmmaking into an occupational reality show franchise. Now the trio is back, with an all-new instalment of Project Greenlight, allowing us to once again watch an industry newbie squirm under the pressure of actually making a movie under rapt watch from the public eye.
“It’s the riskiest season we’ve done yet,” Affleck says of the new series, back on HBO after a stint on Bravo, but he doesn’t elaborate on why that is in the 30-second tease. There is quick mention of escalating tension between the director and the writer, but this is a staple of the show and part of what always made it compelling.
Now that the show is making a comeback, it’s as good a time as any to check in with the winners of the previous rounds of Project Greenlight.
Season 1 (2001 – 2002)
Pete Jones won the inaugural season and got to direct his screenplay, Stolen Summer. In 2004, he followed that film up with Outing Riley, in which he co-starred. The film did not do well. Afterwards he laid low until emerging in 2011 as co-writer of the Farrelly Brothers flick, Hall Pass, which flopped, but is still nothing to sneeze at.
Season 2 (2003)
In the second season, both a screenwriter and directing team were selected as winners based on their submissions. Erica Beeney won the writing contest for her script, The Battle of Shaker Heights, one of Shia LaBeouf’s early roles, and she has not worked on a movie since. Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle won the directing contest, and they have fared slightly better. Rankin pivoted into horror, writing and directing movies such as Infestation, Nuclear Family, and Night of the Living Deb, while Potelle has kept mostly to visual special effects–re-teaming with Rankin on Infestation before moving on to such projects as Punisher: War Zone and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Season 3 (2005)
The winning screenplay was the creature feature Feast, written by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, and directed by John Gulager. Ultimately, this year’s entrants turned out to be the most successful crew yet. Dunstan and Melton wrote the final three entries in the Saw series, teamed again with Gulager for Feast’s straight-to-DVD sequels and on Piranha 3DD, and co-directed Netflix horror staples The Collector and The Collection. Gulager has dabbled in acting with movies like this year’s Tangerine when he wasn’t also directing cheapie horror like the unimaginatively titled Zombie Night.
Let us know your favorite season and winner from the series in the comments below.