The Farrelly fallout lingers over the opening minutes of this week’s episode, as Marc is faced with breaking the bad news to Ben Affleck. It turns out that both Farrelly brothers have quit, but since we’ve barely caught a glimpse of Bobby since the first episode, his departure hardly feels like a disaster. Actually, neither does Peter’s, since he agrees to continue advising Jason and giving notes on the script. It sounds like what he’s really quitting here is the reality show, and who could blame him for not wanting to be known as that guy who yells on Project Greenlight? If that’s case, he and Effie are finally on the same page about something, as she informs Marc she “will not be painted as the Angry Black Woman.” That’s definitely a characterization reality shows have never shied away from, but this is what happens when you invite the cameras in to see how the sausage gets made. You risk being boiled down to your worst moments in order to keep the drama cooking.
Since there’s plenty of fresh conflict to dive into this week, I don’t want to spend too much time rehashing this unpleasantness, but I did find Jason’s reaction quite telling. After wondering how anyone could not get along with Peter Farrelly, he flips it around and says he finds it strange that a mentor who is supposed to help him can’t deal with members of the production team without quitting. Nowhere in here does he acknowledge his own role in this blowup—that it might have been completely avoided if he’d informed Effie of Farrelly’s offer to show him the digital demo, which Farrelly had suggested in the first place. If the lesson to be learned here is “keep your producers in the loop,” Jason wastes no time in demonstrating that he completely missed it.
First comes the latest chapter in the epic saga of Jason’s quest to shoot on film. The matter finally appears to be resolved when Jason meets with Ben Affleck, who volunteers to give up $100,000 of his own fee and the same amount of Damon’s, figuring HBO will chip in the remaining 100 large needed to cover the cost of film. But as in all great reality shows, there’s a twist! Len Amato of HBO agrees to cover the entire amount, but offers Jason a choice: He can either shoot The Leisure Class on film or get two more precious days of shooting if he sticks to digital. Also, if Jason does choose film and isn’t able to make his days and keep the production on schedule, the Panavision cameras will be pulled and he’ll end up shooting digitally anyway.
It’s a fascinating dilemma. Is The Leisure Class really going to look so much better on film that it’s going to be worth it for Jason to risk not getting the shots he needs? Shooting on video saves time anyway, so with two extra days to shoot he’d be much more likely to have the time to set up the shots he wants, light them to his specifications, and so on. In other words, there’s more to the “look” of a movie than simply the format it’s shot in. By choosing film, Jason isn’t necessarily making the choice that will result in a better-looking movie.
Unsurprisingly, though, he does choose film. Also unsurprisingly, Effie thinks he’s made the wrong choice, saying “he’s not interested in serving the film if he’s giving up more days.” That remains to be seen, but only if Jason actually chooses a location to shoot in. Again he sidesteps Effie, as well as location scout Alison, and goes out to look at a house found by the production designer, Cecil. It would have been interesting to see how this played out if Jason actually liked the house, but he doesn’t, so it just sort of fizzles out. Still, Jason is not doing a great job of creating an atmosphere of trust with his crew so far. Finally, he has to pick somewhere to shoot, so he settles on the Douglas Fairbanks house they could have chosen weeks earlier.
This gets to the heart of why, even for those of us inclined to side with the director over the suits, Jason is so hard to root for. It’s not just that he’s unproven and we basically have to take his talent on faith, but that he comes off as so ungrateful for all the concessions he has gotten, even saying at one point, “We’re already so compromised.” Think of one of the rare times Jason didn’t get his way, back on day one when he wanted to fire Pete Jones. Now he finds Pete so indispensable, he balks when Pete has to leave the project as scheduled because his contract is up. If he was wrong about Pete, maybe he’s wrong about other things, too, and maybe he should be a little more open to listening to the people who are more experienced. That’s not compromising your artistic integrity, it’s giving yourself a better chance to succeed. With the cameras about ready to roll, we’ll soon see if Jason’s stubbornness can survive an unforgiving feature film production schedule.
- Oh, hey, Bruce Davison did get a role after all. Good for him…I guess?
- “Take off your clothes. I’m gonna make you lick each other’s assholes.” Think that’s a Jason line or one of Pete’s?
- “This is a fuckin’ shitshow.” In almost all cases, Marc Joubert speaks for me.
- “Let’s not get emotional,” Pete tells Jason as he departs. I don’t think there was much chance of that happening.