On Oct. 22, we attended a special panel at the New York Television Festival to promote ‘The Chair” docuseries. Created by Chris Moore, Executive Producer of Emmy®-nominated “Project Greenlight” and Co-Producer of Oscar®-winning Good Will Hunting.
“The Chair” is a 10-part documentary series that follows two first-time directors – who are given the same original screenplay – through the process of bringing their debut feature films to the big screen.
Directors Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci were provided with an identical screenplay and challenged to craft their own film. The series documents the creation, marketing and theatrical release of the two films.
Both directors were given the same budget and the productions used locations in the same city – Pittsburgh, Penn. Through multiplatform voting, viewers will ultimately determine which director will be awarded $250,000.
Actor Zachary Quinto (Star Trek, “American Horror Story,” “Heroes”) and his producing partners Corey Moosa and Neal Dodson are featured in “The Chair” as they join Chris Moore and the script’s original producer, Josh Shader, to serve as mentors to Dawson and Martemucci in their quest to develop the winning adaptation.
We spoke to Chris Moore about his experience producing ‘The Chair’, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Shia LaBeouf.
Can you talk about your experience working on the show? There have been comparisons to Project Greenlight.
Chris Moore: Sure, as far as the comparisons to Project Greenlight there are obviously similarities. For me, I’m fascinated with how stories get told. I’ve been fortunate enough to be around a lot of movies that got made. And I think directors have a very important part of making these movies and for me…I would like to educate the audience to become as big fans of directors as they are of stars. Because I think you’d be better off following a director’s work, than necessarily following an actor’s work. Shane and Anna were chosen as the directors because I had been working with them and I thought they would have very different points of view about the script. And they did.
They made very different movies…if you’ve seen ‘Not Cool’ or ‘Hollidaysburg’. They are very different than the show. And for Zach Quinto and his partners. They were involved because I got sort of fat and spoiled and was making a bunch of studio movies. And these are going to be low budget movies and these guys have made some bad ass low budget movies like ‘Margin Call’ and ‘All is Lost’. I thought it would be great to have guys that know how to do that around the project. Zach is very passionate about the movies and what should happen. And obviously made it sort of his own thing about how somebody like Shane shouldn’t really be making their movies.
Both of the directors you selected have very different backgrounds. One is a Youtube star and the other director went to NYU. She took the more traditional route to making a film. What did you notice about their approaches to filmmaking?
CM: Part of it…I’ll be honest is there was that difference. I think where directors are going to come from and where you find or create a career as a director. Like Anna says in one of the episodes. “We’re in a situation where I haven’t been able to make a living doing what I do.” And Shane is making a living and doing stuff on Youtube. Does doing stuff on Youtube mean that you should be allowed to direct movies?
That is an interesting question. So I wanted to have people that were as diverse as Shane and Anna. But also who I believed would make good versions of the movie. Good meaning…they would be finished. They would look good. They would have a point of view. And I think they both really did that. I think Shane’s is much more emblematic of the audience. And Anna’s is much more emblematic of an auteur who is sitting there saying I want to make this version of my movie.
You are going to be doing the re-boot of Project Greenlight. What was it like to go back to working on the new project?
CM: I’m not involved with that. No. That is Matt and Ben.
Are you still communicating with them?
CM: Yeah…we’re still friends and I’m happy for them. I’m happy they got it made. Obviously, I was doing this. And this started a little bit sooner than that…and I don’t think I could be involved with both of them.
So how do you feel about the trajectory…in terms of the careers that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have had in the industry? Did you realize when they were working on Project Greenlight that their careers would take off the way that they have now?
CM: I love Matt and Ben. I came up with Matt and Ben. We’ve been part of each other’s career for a big chunk of our entire career. Our relationship was based on everyone’s professional mutual need. I think I helped them as a producer with getting ‘Good Will Hunting’ made. And other things made. And they are really talented. And so I knew they were really talented. So for me the trajectory is 100 percent obvious. So the people I most laugh about are the people who told me…”Well they’re not going to be movie stars. They’re never going to be able to sustain a movie.” And you’re just like…What? I’ve always believed in them.
Did you know that Ben Affleck was going to become the type of auteur that he became?
CM: Yeah. I met Ben through his first directorial debut. My sister produced the first short film that Ben ever directed. That is how I first met Ben as a director. Not as an actor. I’m a believer in Ben as a director. I just think he is multi-talented. He’s great. My only opinion is I think Ben should do a comedy. Because Ben is funny as hell. They’re rockstars. I think Matt…the both of them are leading men. They’re charismatic. Women like them. Guys like them. They’re homeruns.
You discovered Shia LaBeouf when he was on Project Greenlight. What advice would you give to him about his career?
CM: Shia’s the same thing. Shia came in and he auditioned for us. And it was like…”That dude can act. That guy is a movie star.” So we fought to get him in the movie. He did the movie. We were so psyched to have him on Greenlight. We didn’t discover him. He had been on a show on Disney called ‘Even Stevens.’ He had done ‘Holes’ already.
I know…He was fifteen years old and it was his first non-Disney project.
CM: True… He was young. People got to know him through the show. I love Shia. I love him from afar. I haven’t seen him in ten years. We haven’t worked together since Greenlight. I think he is wildly talented. And I’m really happy for him that he became who he became. As far as the career goes…it’s all about just picking roles. And Shia’s to some extent is also the same thing I said to Ben. Do a comedy. These dudes are funny. They’re likable. They have a charisma that they can’t give to people. That’s really what is fun for me. Is that you can tell. You’re going to watch a highschool football game and say, “That dude is really good.” That guy took me somewhere else where I believed he was a poor kid from wherever. Talent exists and it’s not something you can really study. It’s talent.
Would you consider working with Shia again?
CM: I would work with him any time. The guy is busy as hell.
Shia LaBeouf is currently starring in the period war drama “Fury” with Brad Pitt. Ben Affleck stars in the critical hit ‘Gone Girl’ which has earned over $100 million dollars at the boxoffice and opened at number one.
The feature films created by the two first-time directors documented on the network’s first unscripted series – “Hollidaysburg,” directed by Anna Martemucci, and “Not Cool,” directed by Shane Dawson – will be available for viewing exclusively for STARZ subscribers on STARZ PLAY and STARZ ON DEMAND beginning on Saturday, October 25.
Additionally, “Hollidaysburg” will air on STARZ on Monday, October 27 at 10 pm ET/PT and “Not Cool” will air on STARZ on Tuesday, October 28 at 10 pm ET/PT.
Beginning Saturday, October 25, viewers will have the opportunity to vote to determine which of the two directors will be awarded a $250,000 prize, with the winner being announced during the final episode of “The Chair.”
A link containing directions on how to register to vote can be found on STARZ.com beginning Saturday, October 25. Voting will be available from October 25 until November 2.
“The Chair” airs on Saturday nights at 10 pm ET/PT. Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/followthechair and follow @FollowTheChair on Twitter. Join the conversation with #TheChairTV.
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