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Bravo's 'Project Greenlight 3' to focus on the making of a horror movie, 'Feast'


By Wade Paulsen, 07/20/2004 

Which is better: an Emmy-nominated reality television series or a solid full-length movie? And is it possible to have both when the reality TV show is most successful when it makes the moviemakers look like fools?

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USA Today reports that the script and director for Bravo's Project Greenlight 3 were announced on July 13 by series executive producers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. The show will focus on the making of a horror film entitled Feast, from a script by first-time screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, that will be directed by first-time director John Gulager. As before, Miramax will distribute the finished film, which will be made on a shoestring budget with largely-unknown talent.

Feast generally takes place in an isolated bar ravaged by cannibalistic creatures. In other words, it apparently borrows heavily- from the plot elements of another Miramax movie: Quentin Tarantino's blood-drenched script for From Dusk to Dawn, which was directed and edited by rising hotshot Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, One Upon a Time in Mexico).

Helping Affleck and Damon with the production chores for Feast is Freddy Krueger's creator, the legendary horror film screenwriter-director Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream). In response to a question from the gathered media, Affleck cited A Nightmare on Elm Street as one of his three favorite scary films, along with Friday the 13th and The Shining. (Damon, by contrast, cited The Shining and two gore-free entries, The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby.)

Presuming that Feast is really as similar in concept to From Dusk to Dawn as its description implies (substituting cannibals for vampires), we think Feast has a hard road ahead of it. From Dusk to Dawn not only had top-flight screenwriting and direction, but its cast was headed by George Clooney, Juliette Lewis, Harvey Keitel, Cheech Marin, Salma Hayek and Tarantino himself. However, as Craven himself proved in A Nightmare on Elm Street, a big-name cast is not essential in a hit scary flick.

Based on prior history, Feast will face larger critical obstacles simply because it is a Project Greenlight production. Both the first Project Greenlight movie, Stolen Summer, written and directed by Pete Jones, and the second, The Battle of Shaker Heights, written by Erica Beeney and directed by Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin, received a number of positive critical reviews -- but the negative portrayal of the film and the filmmakers in the Project Greenlight shows created a negative buzz for the films that could not be overcome.

As a result, Stolen Summer, despite a positive review from Roger Ebert, did only $134,736 at the box-office, and The Battle of Shaker Heights, despite the presence of Shia LeBoeuf (Holes), was only slightly better at $280,351. In one sense, we find it extremely ironic that Ben Affleck, one of the producers -- who have been edited to be the "heroes" of the series (also including Damon and the humongous Chris Moore) -- fell victim to the same kind of media hysteria against his movie Gigli that his show generated against the Project Greenlight movies.

For those interested in getting more of a perspective on the Project Greenlight process, we highly recommend the second-season DVD, which covers the making of the film The Battle for Shaker Heights. We only wish that the filming had continued into the editing process, so that we could see how much of the finished film is the vision of the directors (who were trying to make a drama with comedic elements) and how much is the vision of the the producers (who wanted more of a comedy), especially Mr. Moore, who was characterized by one online commentator as an "obese Darth Vader" presiding over a "pure scam" of a process "designed to humiliate" the novice filmmakers. If that was indeed Mr. Moore's intent, he succeeds brilliantly.

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