Once filming begins on The Leisure Class, there’s a shift in the dynamic of Project Greenlight. The conflict doesn’t go away—in fact, this episode features what may be the most unpleasant confrontation of the season so far—but for the most part, people are too busy to fight. Because Jason has chosen film over additional shooting days, there’s no time to waste, especially since (as we are told at least a half-dozen times throughout the episode) he’ll be forced to switch to digital if he doesn’t make his schedule for the first week. Project Greenlight pivots away from being a show about people yelling at each other in offices and on conference calls to a show about (mostly) competent people working hard to make their days and get film in the can.
Jason, as far as we can see, is one of those competent people. While previous Project Greenlight winners have been portrayed as being in way over their heads, Jason is a calm, methodical presence on the set. He works well with the actors and crew, and no one complains that he doesn’t know what he’s doing; quite the contrary, Len Amato of HBO is impressed after watching him work, only concerned that he’s doing too many takes without making any major adjustments between them. The only time he runs afoul of Effie is when he tries to get in one more shot after time expires on their working day, but that’s something every director ever has done.
None of this is to suggest that he’s making a great film. Based on what we see, it’s hard to see what distinguishes The Leisure Class from the usual Farrelly fare. One of the episode’s funniest moments perfectly encapsulates Jason’s working methods as he instructs the makeup department in the proper measurement and angles of the dicks drawn on Bruce Davison’s face. It’s impossible to say what the overall tone of the finished movie will be, but everything we see being shot is crude slapstick and dick (or, excuse me, prick) humor. The movie airs on HBO the night after the season finale, and I can’t imagine watching it and thinking, “Man, I’m really glad they shot this on film!” I’m willing to be surprised, though.
With Jason largely steering clear of conflict this week, the drama comes from other quarters. The big problem is that location scout Alison has yet to secure all the necessary permissions from the neighboring houses in order to get permitted for night shoots. Jason is mostly to blame for this, since he waited so long to choose a location they could have had a month earlier, so it’s at least a little satisfying when Effie and Marc call to inform him that he’ll have to change his script to accommodate day shooting instead. Still, how long does it take to round up 23 signatures? There are literally no other locations to worry about, so it’s not as if Alison had her hands full with other things.
The real unpleasantness comes when First A.D. Van holds a safety meeting on the set. The camera operator is upset with him for reasons that don’t become entirely clear, but have something to do with feeling rushed and, as a result, unsafe. It’s a heated exchange with a lot of “Are you gonna let me finish talking?” hostility, and it happens just as Amato arrives on the set for a visit. If a satisfying resolution was reached, it escaped me, but the show does go on.
By episode’s end, Jason has shown an ability to compromise under pressure in a way he hadn’t up until now. His beloved rollerskating scene becomes a pillow fight instead, and he’s fine with that. (This is one I wouldn’t have blamed him for being upset about if it truly was in the script that way all along; I mean, what did everyone think they were shooting that day if not the rollerskating? And if they knew that, why didn’t someone clear it with the house’s owner?) His extensive shot list for the basement scene gets whittled down so it can all be shot in one day, and as a reward, he is allowed to continue shooting on film. If he could go back and do it all over, would he have chosen more time instead? Probably not, given that celluloid “smells like love” to him, but for now, at least, he’s earned the benefit of the doubt.
- I admit I laughed out loud when the script supervisor said “I’m gonna burn your prick off!” As did everyone on the set.
- Bruce Davison really wanted to say “dick” and needed an explanation from Jason as to why he should say “prick” instead. This is an actor who takes his work seriously.
- Tom Bell doesn’t want to get his penis out too much. His words!