Jessica Corbin, a TechTV reporter, interviewed Ben Affleck about the new Project Greenlight movie The Battle of Shaker Heights, and took the opportunity to ask Affleck about P2P file-sharing. She pointedly asked him if he used any of the file-sharing services for downloading music. In the movie clip of the interview (Windows Media Player req’d) Affleck hesitates for a second and then, obviously wanting to address the issue candidly, says “yes, I file-share.”
Affleck was clearly excited by the idea that technology is changing society in general, and the entertainment industry in particular. Believe me you need to look at the clip to see what I’m talking about (remember this interview is one of dozens that he is giving in rapid fire succession to hoards of entertainment reporters, and yet the questions about P2P file-sharing obviously tripped his wire). After you view the clip, come back here if you are interested in hearing what I have to say about Project Greenlight.
I have watched both seasons of the HBO Project Greenlight special and I think that, whatever views one might have of Affleck based on his massive celebrityhood, he should be commended (along with Matt Damon, and Miramax producers Chris Moore and Jeff Balis) for Project Greenlight (which provides first-time directors and screenwriters with $1 million in funding to make a serious movie). The point of the monetary award is obvious: to give first time film-makers the basic funding needed to make a Hollywood movie. The point of the HBO special (which documents the filming process) is, as Matt Damon says, to “show how things really are,” and to “show how hard it is to make a movie.”
This year’s movie is called The Battle of Shaker Heights and it’s about a 17 year old kid who is angry at the world and channels his anger into the arcane world of Civil War re-enactments. I’m definitely interested in seeing it, but it won’t be released in New Orleans. It’s only going to get a limited release in 10 cities, starting with New York and L.A.
I hope that The Battle of Shaker Heights gets the word-of-mouth buzz that it needs to become commercially successful. Perhaps a large part of the risk to Miramax in funding Project Greenlight has been offset by the revenue from the HBO special. But HBO can’t run a Project Greenlight Special every year (for all I know the HBO special revenues may not offset anything).
And, of course, the HBO special is not really what Project Greenlight is about anyway. There are people out there for whom Project Greenlight is the very embodiment of hope.
I know one person who is film school in New York working her ass off, trying to learn everything that she can to make it in the film business. According to her, every film student is obsessed with getting a shot at Project Greenlight. Interestingly, she hasn’t seen any of the Project Greenlight episodes. She just knows that it represents ‘The Brass Ring.’
Maybe it’s hard to see Affleck as someone concerned with the affairs of struggling film students when you see his smirking mug on every glamour E-TV show, but Project Greenlight shows his true passion is about more than making money. As does the TechTV clip.
Yeah, his recent movie Gigli is complete honker, but so what?
Making movies, especially good ones, is hard work. And even with hard work you still need for things to come together in a certain way. So even established movie makers like Affleck need some good fortune, which is hard to come by 100 percent of the time. But budding film makers really need more than just hard work and good fortune. They need mentors and allies, and Project Greenlight is a part of that equation. Hopefully, it will continue to exist for their sake.