Project Greenlight: Season 2 (2003)

SEASON:

Season 2
Project Greenlight

Critics Consensus

Adjusting the formula to maximize collaborative dysfunction and damaged egos, Project Greenlight delights in the squabbles that can occur on a set.

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Critic Ratings: 11

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Episodes

Air date: Jun 22, 2003

On the first episode of the second season of Project Greenlight, the big change in the rules is explained. Unlike last season, wherein Pete Jones won the contest for his script, and got the chance to direct his own film, Stolen Summer, this season, two winners will be chosen -- one for best screenplay, and one for best director. The director winner will direct the screenplay winner's script. Four director finalists, Joe Otting, Dagen Merrill, Jessica Landaw, and the team of Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle, are chosen based on video interpretations of a nonsensical script sent by the judges. The judges also read the top 50 screenplays (selected by an online peer review) and select the final ten. Those screenwriters are called and invited to Sundance to meet with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Chris Moore, and executives from Blockbuster Video and Miramax. On getting the call from Affleck and Damon, one female finalist says, "I wasn't even this excited when I lost my virginity," to which Damon replies, "Oh, so you've already met Ben." One screenwriter gets frustrated during his "pitch meeting" when Jennifer Lopez, Affleck's paramour, quietly walks into the room. One of the director candidates, Landaw, excitedly approaches Erica Beeney, whose script, The Battle of Shaker Heights, Landaw loved. At the end of the episode, Moore gathers the writers together to tell them that four finalists have been selected -- Beeney, Robert Lynn (Prisoner), Daniel Stern and Tyler Fereira (The Rebound Guy), and Sera Gamble and Raelle Tucker (Cheeks). This was initially aired back-to-back with the second episode of season two.

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Air date: Jun 22, 2003

The pool has been narrowed down to four director finalists (Joe Otting, Dagen Merrill, Jessica Landaw, and the team of Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle) and four screenwriting finalists (Erica Beeney for The Battle of Shaker Heights, Robert Lynn for Prisoner, Daniel Stern and Tyler Fereira for The Rebound Guy, and Sera Gamble and Raelle Tucker for Cheeks). The director candidates are invited to meet with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Chris Moore, and executives from Miramax and Blockbuster to discuss which script they'd like to direct and why. Landaw gushes about the coming-of-age drama, The Battle of Shaker Heights, even going so far as to say it's the only script she wants to be considered for. Otting likes the tricky psychological thriller, Prisoner. Rankin and Potelle also favor The Battle of Shaker Heights, and have specific ideas about changes they'd like to make in the script. Moore expresses qualms about picking a team of directors, worried that they'll waste precious time on the set arguing. Merrill chooses the romantic comedy, The Rebound Guy. Affleck says that, based on their video assignments, Merrill "may have the most raw talent as a shooter." Before the winners are announced at the Sundance Film Festival, Landaw expresses her biggest fear -- "The only thing that would really rock me was if they had someone else do Shaker Heights." This episode was originally aired back-to-back with the first episode of season two.

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Air date: Jun 29, 2003

Erica Beeney has been chosen as the contest winner for her script, The Battle of Shaker Heights. Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle have been chosen to direct. Having seen the first season of Project Greenlight, Potelle expresses concern about Chris Moore's decision to hire Jeff Balis again, but Moore says he loves working with Balis. Meryl Poster of Miramax opines that it's "nuts" that Balis is back. Moore holds the first script meeting, and worries that the contest winners are too polite, as they seem to agree with everything he says. Matt Damon says there's a lot of pressure on the trio, because "for Project Greenlight to continue, this movie has to be successful." Beeney returns home to Columbus for a few days to say goodbye to her friends. Potelle and Rankin check out their new offices at Miramax, and meet opinionated casting director Joseph Middleton. Middleton feels like the directors are setting their sights a bit high (Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler) and wants them to consider Emile Hirsch (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys) for the lead. Potelle expresses uncertainty. The directors suggest to Moore that Potelle could edit the film, as he has their previous projects. Moore kind of likes the idea because it will save money. Balis thinks the directors need to be steered, and feels that they should hire an editor. When Moore gives the directors the word from Miramax that they don't want Potelle to edit the film, they passively accept the news, causing more worry that they are afraid to fight for their own vision. This episode was originally shown back-to-back with episode 16.

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Air date: Jun 29, 2003

There are about five weeks left before shooting is scheduled to begin. While Erica Beeney works on her second revision of the script, Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle interview candidates for key crew positions. At one point, they ask Jeff Balis if they really need to hire a production designer, causing Chris Moore to further question whether or not the pair really know what they're doing. Casting director Joseph Middleton continues to push hard for Emile Hirsch in the lead role. Potelle voices his reservations about Hirsch more strongly. The directors and Beeney meet with Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue) about another key role, but, frustrated because some actors won't read for their prospective roles, Rankin and Potelle barely say a word at the meeting. Middleton later chastises them for not sucking up to the actress. Rankin and Potelle take off one afternoon to read Beeney's new draft of the script. Forty-five minutes later, Moore shows up at the office, wondering where they are. Word comes down that Miramax has signed off on Emile Hirsch for the lead. After speaking to Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Moore calls Potelle, at Middleton's insistence, to make sure he's okay with making an offer to Hirsch. Potelle caves. Moore holds another script meeting and has some strong criticism of the new draft, which Beeney does not take well. Rankin and Potelle, meanwhile, don't seem willing to make their opinions known. The production encounters more trouble as many actors pass on the project. Furthermore, their first choice DP candidate, Larry Sher, drops out of the running after Potelle chastises him for interrupting him during an interview. This episode was originally aired back-to-back with episode 15.

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Air date: Jul 5, 2003

Three weeks to the shoot, and no one has been cast yet! Kate Capshaw, Kieran Culkin, and Liv Tyler are among those turning the film down. Joseph Middleton brings in a young actor he says is "perfect" for the lead role. It's Shia LaBeouf, from Holes and TV's Even Stevens. Efram Potelle is concerned that LaBeouf isn't likable enough, but the readings go well, and Potelle is won over. Thomas E. Ackerman (Beetlejuice) is interviewed to be the film's director of photography, and the interview goes surprisingly well. At a script meeting, Chris Moore expresses his concern that Kelly, the lead character, is a jerk. Screenwriter Erica Beeney gets a bit defensive. Directors Potelle and Kyle Rankin take a meeting with Jeff Balis, and suggest that they might want to do a rewrite of Beeney's script. Balis tries to dissuade them, but they take the idea to Beeney anyway. The filmmakers learn they may lose LaBeouf due to a scheduling conflict with his promoting Holes. Moore is impressed with how the directors handle location scouting. Potelle misses a script meeting to go pick up the car that the production gives him. Potelle and Rankin want Kathleen Quinlan to play Kelly's mother, but Miramax insists that they offer the role to Jane Kaczmarek. The directors consider threatening to quit over the disagreement.

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Air date: Jul 13, 2003

Twelve days before the shoot, none of the major roles in The Battle of Shaker Heights have been cast. The production can't begin making a shooting schedule until they know whether or not Shia LaBeouf will take the lead role. Miramax makes an offer to Jane Kaczmarek, despite the objections of directors Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin. Chris Moore explains to the directors that this is how Hollywood filmmaking works. Ben Affleck attends a script meeting. The production gets word that LaBeouf has agreed to star. LaBeouf, who doesn't yet have his driver's license, has to learn to drive a Jeep for the film. William Sadler and Gary Cole read for the part of Abe, Kelly's father. Everyone seems to like Cole except for Potelle. Kaczmarek passes, and Kathleen Quinlan (the directors' first choice), Elden Henson, and Amy Smart are quickly cast, filling all the major roles except Abe. The actors do a table read, and screenwriter Erica Beeney is pleased to hear her words brought to life. Cole passes on the role of Abe. Miramax wants a bigger name than Sadler, so the role is offered to Christopher McDonald, who agrees to take the role the day before shooting is scheduled to start. During a location scout, the production has difficulty finding a gas station at which to shoot one scene. Jeff Balis suggests changing it to a vacant lot, and the directors agree. Beeney is annoyed to learn later that a change was made without her input.

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Air date: Jul 20, 2003

It's the first day of the shoot, time for directors Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin to show what they can do. Screenwriter Erica Beeney is also on the set, though she's uncertain what her role is going to be. Chris Moore shows up on the set and questions a choice that the directors have made. He's worried that their sense of humor might be too broad for the film, but he lets them have their way. At one point, the directors are shown telling Kathleen Quinlan (who plays Eve, Kelly's [Shia LaBeouf] mom) that they are open to changing the dialogue to suit the actors' needs. The first day goes pretty smoothly overall, and Moore is pleased. The next day, Jeff Balis gets bad news. Christopher McDonald, who'd been cast as Abe, Kelly's father, has a scheduling conflict. The production either has to change the schedule to accommodate him, or replace him. Cinematographer Thomas Ackerman is friends with actor Christopher Lloyd, and agrees to ask him about taking the role. Miramax gives the okay, and the directors assent, but when Moore talks to Lloyd on the phone, he doesn't seem very enthusiastic. Moore has to leave the production to go to the set of American Wedding. Balis gets word that Lloyd turned them down, so he asks Miramax if they can go back to William Sadler, who the directors originally wanted to offer the part. But with Abe's first big scene scheduled for the next morning, Miramax execs say they want to try to find someone else for the role. Balis contacts Moore, who puts his foot down, and Sadler ends up taking the job. The next day, with a tight schedule, LaBeouf and Sadler have little time to prepare to shoot the emotional climax of the film.

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Air date: Jul 20, 2003

Chris Moore arrives on the set having seen dailies from the first day. "It was a disaster," says Moore, referring to an emotional scene that ended with an unscripted group hug. Screenwriter Erica Beeney and producer Jeff Balis concur, and Moore chastises both of them for not being more vocal about their displeasure. Meanwhile, on the second day, Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin make some changes to a battle scene, causing a chain reaction that wastes precious shooting time. Balis advises Rankin to make any changes to the shot list, and not wait until they're ready to shoot to tell the crew about the changes. That night, Potelle and Rankin rewrite an entire scene and, to avoid showing the changes to Beeney, they have their assistant type the new pages up. When Beeney sees the new pages the next morning after shooting has begun, she gets very upset. Moore shares her displeasure, especially after he learns that Rankin was dishonest with Balis about the extent of the changes. Directing finalist Jessica Landaw, who had wanted to direct Beeney's script, visits on the set, and Beeney complains to her about the directors' behavior. At lunch, Moore puts his foot down, telling Potelle and Rankin that they are not authorized by Miramax to make changes to the script.

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Air date: Jul 27, 2003

It's the ninth day of filming. Chris Moore, worried about the infamous "group hug" that directors Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin allowed into an earlier take of a pivotal scene, is keeping a sharp eye out for any scenes that he feels could be played "too dramatically." Screenwriter Erica Beeney comments that the film is turning out a lot more "weighty" than she expected. She finds herself asking, "Did I write a really cheesy, crappy movie?," but thinks the blame lies with the directors. William Sadler asks for time to work out a scene with his young co-star, but he can't avoid Potelle's interference. Sadler says the young directors are "insecure." The shoot falls behind schedule while shooting a pivotal scene taking place at Tabby's (Amy Smart) wedding. Potelle and Rankin can't seem to come to an agreement about what they want from the actors, and they do take after take without anyone being satisfied. The actors are increasingly uneasy. Moore, Beeney, and Jeff Balis give notes to the directors and discuss the scene in view of the actors. Potelle feels the need to call them aside and have an hour-long meeting about their communication procedures while Smart and Shia LaBeouf (Kelly) wait on the set. The directors claim that the actors are losing confidence in them because they see the producers and the screenwriters giving them notes. Moore says they're losing confidence because Potelle gave a note, and Rankin gave the opposite note after one take. As the crew desperately try to squeeze two more setups into the day, assistant director Dennis Benatar expresses his frustration with the directors' disorganized methods to line producer Joel Hatch.

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Air date: Aug 3, 2003

The shoot has come down to the home stretch, and the cast and crew are a bit worn out. Spirits are raised when Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez pay a visit to the set. Affleck says he's there because he was concerned about the writing in a scene involving Tabby's (Amy Smart) WASP-y family, but he's happy with how Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (who plays Tabby's mother) does the scene. Screenwriter Erica Beeney, meanwhile, has a friendly chat with Lopez. Later, Beeney gives directors Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin notes in front of the star, Shia LaBeouf, and the directors chastise her for it. During a scene involving Ray Wise (who plays Tabby's father), Potelle objects to the way the boom operator, Sterling Moore, speaks to him. He wants Moore fired, but with six days left to shoot, producer Jeff Balis tells Potelle to suck it up. The two manage to resolve their differences. There's more tension on the set when Smart and LaBeouf have to do a love scene. On the last night of the shoot, LaBeouf is given some new dialogue and has a difficult time remembering his lines. As the hours tick away, the crew does take after take, and LaBeouf's frustration and exhaustion begin to show.

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Tv Season Info

Critic Reviews for Project Greenlight Season 2

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (7)

[Chris Moore and Jeff Balis'] Goofus and Gallant bully-and-prey dynamic is more compelling than anything that ended up on screen in "Stolen Summer."

Sep 6, 2019 | Full Review…

With a vague script, shiftless personnel, and a red-faced manager, Project Greenlight now has some of the bumbling charm of BBC's The Office. It's a workplace drama with considerable suspense.

Sep 6, 2019 | Full Review…

More cynical observers see the entire experiment as a case of Hollywood striking back, with Jones, and now Potelle and Rankin, having essentially been set up to fail.

Sep 6, 2019 | Full Review…

Surely a government-funded plan to nip the dreams of deluded young filmmakers in the bud.

Sep 6, 2019 | Full Review…

'The Battle of Shaker Heights,'' already looks unbearable... It does not matter. The making of the movie is riveting.

Sep 6, 2019 | Full Review…

This is as detailed a portrait of the filmmaking process as you're likely to see, because Sacks' cameras are there recording everything, even when it makes "Greenlight" look bad.

Sep 6, 2019 | Full Review…

While most win-your-dream-job reality series tend to be long on the slow-and-steady climb part and short on the fast-and-nasty fall, "Greenlight" dares to show what happens when the talent (or lack of it) hits the fan.

Sep 6, 2019 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

For Hollywood insiders used to vocal control freaks, their winners turn out to be too laid back, too sedate. No matter, it's still a source of tension and that makes for an enjoyable voyage into a movie-making maelstrom.

Sep 6, 2019 | Full Review…

You just want to shake some sense into these guys... They press on and are, by turns, stupid, silly, arrogant, conciliatory, and astonishingly clever.

Sep 6, 2019 | Full Review…

As with the first season, this show is aimed primarily at film buffs -- and it is fascinating to see the filmmaking process in action, along with a lot of behind-the-scenes battles.

Sep 6, 2019 | Full Review…

I'm liking this documentary series more in its second season, and a new wrinkle is the reason... The personality dynamics are fun to watch even if the film turns out not to be.

Sep 6, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Project Greenlight: Season 2

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