TV Review: ‘The Leisure Class’ (Project Greenlight)

The Leisure Class Project Greenlight Movie
John P. Johnson/HBO

For all the high-minded talk from its high-profile producers around “Project Greenlight,” the TV show has never been about the movies being made at its center, nor has it produced a successful one. That streak continues with “The Leisure Class,” although this latest film has been spared any commercial pressures by premiering on HBO, which needn’t worry about anyone specifically paying to see it, something that — in the rough-and-tumble world of theatrical distribution — one suspects almost nobody would feel inclined to do.

As the series chronicled, contest-winning director Jason Mann fought to make this script, and there’s obviously some talent on display here. That said, it’s put to use in the service of such a small, inconsequential story as to make Mann’s conspicuous hand-wringing over the details during the show — like shooting on film as opposed to digital — seem irrelevant in hindsight.

Having initially set out to make a comedy, the producers bowed to Mann’s darker vision, yielding something closer to a satire. But the targets aren’t particularly distinctive, and the notion of the entire narrative unfolding over a 24-hour period, as executed, makes for a rather blunt, heavy-handed approach.

The film opens with William (Ed Weeks) about to marry Fiona (“Jane the Virgin’s” Bridget Regan), the politically ambitious daughter of a filthy-rich U.S. senator, Edward Langston (Bruce Davison, the best thing the movie has going for it). At an engagement shindig the night before the wedding, Edward works the crowd, while telling William that he’s “like the son I never had.”

The inevitable grenade arrives in the form of William’s long-lost brother, Leonard (Tom Bell), the loosest of cannons, who risks exposing his sibling as a grifter who, before genuinely falling for Fiona, was preparing to loot the senator’s charitable foundation. Yet Leonard’s wild and irreverent behavior (William tries passing him off as an old college friend) not only endangers his brother’s plans, but quickly punctures the family’s veneer of perfection, although given the tumble of details that emerges, it never really adds up to much more than a flesh wound.

Weeks and Bell yield a few amusing moments with rat-a-tat banter and wordplay, as William seeks to politely oust his brother, who proceeds to gulp down a lot of expensive booze before all heck breaks loose, offering Davison an opportunity to lose his cool. But none of it really holds up to close scrutiny, such as the notion that the senator wouldn’t disclose results of a background check on his future son-in-law until the night before the wedding. Nor is there enough meat or focus here for the film to function as a critique of the one percent, the title and trappings notwithstanding.

In perhaps the savviest move associated with this revival of the concept, HBO scheduled the movie to play the night after “Project Greenlight’s” final episode, allowing the morbidly curious to see how the snippets they’ve seen have been cut together. But if the network’s executives have given this modestly budgeted exercise 10 minutes thought — other than wondering how they looked on camera — it’s about nine too many.

The underlying goal of “Project Greenlight” has always been to demonstrate that while Hollywood represents a fantasy factory, the nuts and bolts of making movies isn’t all fun and games. While that ode to the hard work of filmmaking is a reasonable (if self-serving) objective, as chores go, watching the finished product shouldn’t be.

TV Review: 'The Leisure Class' (Project Greenlight)

(Movie; HBO, Mon. Nov. 2, 10 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by Adaptive Studios, Pearl Street Films and Miramax, in association with Duly Noted, and presented by HBO Films.

Crew

Executive producers, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Jennifer Todd, TJ Barrack, Perrin Chiles, Marshall Lewy; producers, Effie T. Brown, Marc Joubert; director, Jason Mann; writers, Pete Jones, Mann; camera, Trevor Forrest; production designer, Cecil Gentry; editor, Craig Hayes; music, Brian Byrne; casting, Lauren Bass, Jordan Bass. 85 MIN.

Cast

Ed Weeks, Tom Bell, Bridget Regan, Scottie Thompson, Melanie Zanetti, Christine Lakin, Rory Knox Johnston, Brenda Strong, Bruce Davison

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  1. scott says:

    The only good thing that came from Project Green Light 4 was showing Effies as the liar and the rasicist she is. We all saw her lie to the director about how much money he had left to make his film and telling him that he could film his vision with the crash sequence when she knew he couldn’t. She also got a black man fired because he didn’t fit her racial naritive. The actor didn’t mind bringing in the suitcases because he showed up for work but now because of Effie another black man lost his job. Way to go Effie..You can be a producer or an activist you can’t be both!

  2. Gina says:

    The season of Project Greenlight was worth watching. I barely made it through 6 minutes of the finished project before switching to another channel.

  3. It cracks me up that so many people try to blame this on Effie. They all failed. Jason may not have been the worse choice (although Effie’s choice of the couple may have worked), but allowing him to make that awful script of his was, and indulging his spoiled over privilege whims were – nothing he insisted on was of any real value; Not shooting on film, not the location and lost time, nothing… a bigger car crash, night shooting, a take where the actor is not blinking… none of that would have saved this hot mess… actually listening to Effie and making the female character a little stronger and clearer might have helped a little.

  4. Eric Van says:

    Okay, Jason was an ass hat, and Effie was a vindictive harpie. That’s just good TV, folks. None of the other contestants approached the level of compelling personalities that Spaced Ghost and Whining Woman did. The real problem, I thought, was with HBO, Mattissmo, and Benjy-Ben. They should’ve shown the movie first, then ran the series. By the time the Leisure Class aired, we already were predisposed to dismiss it as a piece of self-indulgent caa-caa. It would’ve been more interesting to see the product first, then see how this link of cinematic sausage was made. Next time, gents. Next time.

  5. Mike says:

    HBO should have taken the 3 million dollars and put it in a trash can and set it on fire and filmed it (not video!) and that would have been better to watch they this crap. Everyone involved in this project should be thrown out of the film industry for life. This is a crime that good deserving Directors are killing themselves making better films with far less. Shame on HBO.

  6. adam says:

    “that’s a bingo!”

  7. Barbara says:

    Jason didn’t want this gig to begin with. So why was he picked?
    Among the ten finalists were others with solid shorts that showed strong potential to make a feature film. Why not give the job to someone that really wanted it?
    Instead we were given Mr. Mann, a person who clearly stated he was not interested. Ironically, he will probably get more gigs from this experience and we’ll have another mediocre director making more mediocre films. Sadly, we’ll never know if there was a true rising star among the other nine competitors.

  8. Chef Mikael says:

    I don’t typically leave comments on movie reviews like this, but have been thinking about this movie in particular basically all week.

    To back track though a bit first, as for the series it self ‘Project Greenlight’ I feel is very instructive, the only questionable thing I would point to as the weeks dragged on I began to wonder if the movie the season was built around would be worth watching sense we the viewers had already seen so much just in the way of clips. I also began to consider how non judgmental or bias my opinion might be after taking in so much of what had been said and had transpired on the show over the duration of the season. That said as I have worked on several film sets and studios I am quite familiar with all the bickering and drama that goes on behind the scenes so that didn’t phase me so much, in fact it rang true. Over all I would have to say I enjoyed the season and though I can not really claim to be a big fan or anything nevertheless I have always enjoyed both Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s work.

    So a week has gone by and I have had some time to process, in the end the fact there was no real story or backstory for that matter, the characters fell flat (save for the father who had some decent moments), all the lighting issues, the shoddy camera work, the lack of chemistry or decent dialog aside, I guess the best way I can express my personal take away is hollow. I really wanted to enjoy it I tried my hardest to put any reservations I might have had aside but I just have had this sense of overwhelming hollowness if you will all week every time I let my thoughts drift back on it. Unlike many of the other comments most of which I would tend to agree with more or less I do feel as though I am not in any position nor am i qualified to sign blame other then to say there is surely enough to go around, though I hesitate to lay any of it at the feet of the cast, the crew who did what they were instructed to do…

  9. Kathleen Alnory says:

    Not surprised, Jason seemed so fixed on film type instead of time and content, if he were shooting something like Out Of Africa, I could see the fixation with film vs digital but really? When the audience can’t see the differences why would it matter so much, I think his obsession to be right stalled his creativity of the actual shoot. They say hindsight is 20/20 but given a choice now, I still don’t think he’d get it and would pick film over the extra days agsin, and did it affect the picture you bet it did.. You bet it did, sticking to a budget, learning that there’s a push pull between art and money is unfortunately a lesson I do not think was learned, as Jason will still blame all others for his failure to see not his vision but his failure to cooperate, just maybe those that came before him know something, maybe…

  10. Joyce McKay says:

    After two tries I finally made it through watching this mediocre movie. Snooze. I never attended film school I don’t know all the ins and outs of writing a script but I do know what I like and what I don’t like. I am who this movie was supposed to be for.

  11. Zach says:

    Bummer. I was really rooting for the director after watching the show, but the movie was really mediocre. It was basically Meet the Parents without a single laugh. And all I could think during the first scene was that he was squinting and the color didn’t match! Since 99% of us will watch this movie on TV, there was no reason to shoot on film. Should have taken the extra days/budget instead. Live and learn, I guess.

  12. jeanne says:

    I am hoping someone from the show sees this. While “Project Greenlight” itself is a novel idea and please do not get me wrong I am a strong supporter of the Arts. It is very difficult to watch a show about an ungrateful young man, handed 3.5 million dollars to fight with HBO and EFFIE while kids sleep in the street or people dont have food here in the US.
    I understand the thought behind it and appreciate the effort, but to show someone given that kind of money, not grateful (or appear that way) and then make a movie that has no depth at all. The two main characters could have had some background, and while they expanded on Theona,somewhat, it was barely enough to understand it if you had not watched the show. It was a mixed bag of emotions, and I was never sure where the movie wanted me to go… It just seemed a waste of millions of dollars and Project Greenlight itself. But I am going to say, the is not Jason Manns fault, while he was being artsy, the film was cut and chopped in ways that I could see were bad. The car crash should have been cut if you were going to do one so poorly, I mean come on HBO. I know its to show a new director how it is..but why waste the money if you arent doing this seriously. I mean there are other venues if you are trying to throw away millions of dollars. There are poor children that dont even have HBO or will never have an acting or music class.

  13. Janelle says:

    To me, there are two serious flaws with this movie. The script and the cinematography. The script was boring and the banter between the brothers felt so recycled. We’ve seen the bit before. The characters were not sincere or developed to the extent they needed to be. The idea of this movie as a dark comedy is ridiculous. My biggest problem with the script is the opening scene, where the main characters are working the room. It felt contrived and was not fluid at all. That is solely the Director’s fault. Considering his personality, I’m not surprised. His mannerisms are awkward and broken.
    The cinematography was nothing to write home about. I wasn’t particularly enamored with the framing in the shots. There were scenes with literally shaky camera work. Look at the opening scene again. There’s a moment where the camera noticeably shakes.

    This guy is also somehow tied to executives of Project Greenlight. I haven’t researched the whole connection, but this season was a canned ham, no doubt about it. Bottom line, Jason Mann is not special. There are 100 of him in a film school class right this minute. What would have really been great is if they had found an authentic person with an interesting viewpoint and made a substantial movie. This was garbage. And why the hell was the brother wearing lipstick for the first 2/3 of the movie? Nothing to do with the brother made sense. Jason, you are no Aronofsky or Anderson and you never will be.

  14. Jonathan says:

    There’s a HUGE hole in this script that I can’t believe all of the “professionals” missed! If you change your name to assume a fake identity, how can you send out wedding invites to your family that your brother finds out about? Nursing home? What? So the premise of the whole movie is junk.

    Also, how did no one tell Mann about the concept of “jump-starting characters? We never got a scene that assigned personality and motive to anybody. The Farrelly Bros and Matt and Ben both get that, yet nothing was in this script? A 2-minute scene where we realize the main character is about money and is a bit slimy, but maybe has fallen for the girl after all. And assign the motive early that Fiona is about getting the inheritance and the legacy and is willing to be under her father’s thumb for it. Then the turn can be about learning who her father is and deciding to manipulate him, which it turns out so was her fiance, which could be the bond that keeps them together. And, holy crap, they NEEDED to assign some motivation to Tom Bell’s weird character. The “I’m here because I love you but will undermine your every move” is……it falls to pieces.

    A short window to prep and film might fit the TV show, but not the movie. I just don’t understand with the notes that everyone gave, including Matt saying he had no identity of (which character?), and Effie saying she had no idea who Fiona was, how did none of that get to Mann until the film was in the can (according to the show’s timeline)?

  15. Deb says:

    I liked Effie, surrounded by men, cast as the female causing rifts over issues only she could see. The moments during PG when I was cringing were not hers. She was the pro.

  16. I liked it. A simple story presented in a breezy, refreshing, unpretentious manner, light handed like the best of British-styled comedies, unlike the over-the-top American Will Ferrell stuff that seems to be so popular. Well acted (I thought Bruce Davidson as the father especially good). I watched it, taped it and watched it again the next day. A sweet film with touch of heart.

  17. Kurt says:

    Not Good. Had a budget to support a better script and film.

  18. Mark says:

    I thought it was an enjoyable movie. not perfect, but still very enjoyable…you snobs

  19. Philly from the OC says:

    Omigod, where to start, where to start.

    So, first, my own bias is that shows about process are fascinating. Project Greenlight, however, is not, to contradict Matt Damon, about process. Well, it is about process, of course; but what it is really is a show (with however many episodes there were) about what a trainwreck looks like in slow motion.

    The Leisure Class never had a chance because the process was never going to allow it to have a chance. Soliciting screenplays by throwing an invitation out into the vastness of space has as much chance of success as a pig has to fly. Thousands and thousands of screenplays are submitted to studios by pro writers and their agents and managers, and only a tiny portion of those get made. And the ones that do get made have undergone a vetting like you can’t imagine. Not to mention years and years going by and draft after draft before seeing a day of principal photography.

    If the US planned its wars as thoroughly as movies are planned before being greenlit, we’d be much better off. They’d probably still fail, ie, and no more successful than the vast majority of movies.

    And the movies which excel are just a tiny proportion of those being made..

    So, just for the sake of argument, let’s say that a tiny fraction of one percent of the screenplays written each year are successful. And a small precentage of those make a profit. Making movies is not a profitable business; it is a “business” if you’re a studio, and nothing more than a toy for the immensely wealthy. It is a business if you own a studio, which is just a giant platform for the rental of space, dollies, cameras, lighting, and all the rest of it. And then, the dvds, cable, merchandising, and other forms of tie-ins like amusement parks, cruise ships, hotels . . . .

    So, Project Greenlight is a reality show about how difficult it is to make a movie – and that is true. What it is not is a show about how difficult it is to make a good movie. That is nearly impossible under the best of circumstances, and PG is NOT the “best of circumstances.”

    So, to echo just bout every letter written by all the other respondents, Jason Mann was an excellent choice for PG. How could this human wraith be any more unlikeble and alienating? And he was pitted against THE “angriest black women” I have ever seen on a TV screen. And a proper foil for Jason, ie, just as obnoxious and unlikable – with a smile any self-respecting Great White would be proud to brandish.

    But, let’s not forget the support staff of unlikable. I have nothing against Ben Affleck, but wasn’t he just about the smarmiest and arrogant of little pricks (well, at 6-3 or so, hardly “little”) you could imagine? And how’s about the asshole from HBO, Amato? Pretending that his ridiculous notes on the script could have made the tiniest bit of difference to a made-to-fail script. And all that business about Fiona needing character “development.” There was no character whatsoever to develop. She was a prop, nothing more and nothing less.

    The dialog? The kindest thing we could say about it was that it was a really bad imitation of “bullshit in the greenroom.” Funny? Hardly.

    I loved that Jason wanted “pickups” because his lead actor was “squinting” during his closeups while in that kissing scene with Fiona. That actor was squinting, or so it seemed to me, during every scene that was shot during daylight.

    As for the endless wrangling about shooting on film vs. digitial. THREE HUNDRED FUCKING THOUSAND DOLLARS1111 Are you effing kidding me? That could not have made the slightest difference whatsoever. Jason really must have thought that this ridiculous trifle was a work of art. He could have shot it on toilet tissue and it wouldn’t have made ANY difference.

    I definitely could see his point about the appropriateness of the house that was used, but again, no difference whatsoever.

    Every little battle that was fought on PG was a miniature of what might go wrong on any shoot, or any picture, with any director, and script, actors, stunts, what have you. They were almost metaphors in a sense, in that this was never going to be a movie anybody would ever pay to see, but it did give us an idea of how many facets – thousand of them – go into making a movie.

    Try picturing in your mind the rfeal problems faced by “Ripley” Scott when prepping The Martian. The sets, built from scratch – HOLY FUCKING SHIT! The costumes? Again, HFS! And all the composites and miniatures, etc.etc etc. It took how many thousand of expert artisans and artists of one stripe or another to make that movie?

    Now compare that with Mann’s TLC.

  20. Mike J. says:

    This was my first season of Project Greenlight, and I was intrigued at the idea and opportunity the show gave a no-name a shot at creating something great.
    As the weeks went on, it was evident that the end product was going to fall flat. I feel that if you’re going to stick your neck out and push to direct the script you came up with, it better be good. Ben said it best in the final episode when he said “it wasn’t for me”. The story was awful. Plain and simple. It was not funny in any way. The script was awful. Shame on the person who had the authority to step in and stop the bleeding in time to salvage something worth watching. To think that cost 3 million is craziness. You either have the ability to write humor or you don’t. Jason cannot write humor. I could have made a better film with half the budget. Folks who say he was rushed or needed more money…..cmon. I think it’s completely possible that perhaps he was the wrong choice. Perhaps he can stick with his short films and he can pick apart lighting and what kind of exposure he uses on his own time. You could have had a 25 car pile up and bodies flying everywhere and it wouldn’t have mattered in this story.
    Well then again, maybe it would have. It would have been so out of place, it might have been funny.

  21. Dan says:

    The guy was handcuffed by a small budget and an absolute horror of a producer in Effie Brown. She hired all of her mediocre friends who threw down one road block after another. Peter F leaving was a clear indicator of how bad it really was with this nightmare behind the scenes. He did not want his name associated with it. Can’t argue that he is not a pro and he could not work one more day with the egotistical nightmare known as Ms. Brown. She withheld budget from the guy and then when she did not get a “thank you”, quit the day before the last shoot. Come on. The people from HBO were afraid of her or were to PC to fire her. The guy had no chance the day she walked in the room and yet he still found a way to make a funny film. Little money and no time to do something for the very first time. Could it have been better, yes. Better written, better produced and better supported by HBO. The guy will land on his feet and hit the next one, with the right team, out of the park. He likes making films more than anything else, Ms. Brown seemed to only like tooting her own horn. He should have bought her a mirror, then he would have been set.

    • J says:

      You may not personally like Efffie Brown but having a different AD, stunt coordinator, production manager, or editor would not have made this unimaginative drivel any better. Seriously there isn’t a single cutaway in the whole film, the blocking is clunky and atrocious, and frankly there’s nothing remotely cinematic about the whole story. He has no idea how to craft a story, the humor was tired and forced, the drama, nonexistent. Why do novice filmmakers always insist on mixing tones? I found the insistence of shooting on film ridiculous when not a single idea or emotion was communicated visually.

    • Jason K. Howard says:

      3 Million dollars isn’t a small budget for a low budget director. It’s actually a lot of money. He got to do his script. And he chose Film over Digital which would have given him two extra days of shooting. He’s the idiot. You couldn’t tell it was film, and it didn’t bring that much “value” to the film. Also his style to have the actors improvising every take didn’t serve the film that had a tight budget. He could have done that with digital and got more out of the actors. He pretty much got everything that he wanted in the film, the cast, the location (which he picked late in the game which put everything else behind), his own script…….and it was still barely watchable. Who would make a film with this guy? He will drive any producer insane. Could he have used 2 extra days….absolutely. Was Effie right on with her feedback about Fiona…..absolutely.

  22. DaveC310 says:

    The movie had potential. The best scene was the one in the basement when the dad loses his sh-t. If they were given proper time to develop the script, they might have been able to do something decent. It wasn’t the worse movie I’ve ever seen, but it felt like a first draft. Not sure why Jason was so gung-ho on shooting film on a movie that people were going to watch on TV. 99 percent of the audience can’t tell the difference between digital and film. Twenty years ago there was a huge difference, not so much in 2015.

    I was totally confused when the dad still wanted them to get married after finding out the truth about William. One second he’s gonna make William and Leonard lick each other’s butts then kill them, the next minute he’s forcing his daughter to marry the guy. Didn’t make sense. Plus there was never a moment between William and Fiona where we saw them realize they were still in love and she was willing to forgive him. (I think setting the entire movie over one night was a bad idea, these characters needed time to develop. They needed to be set up better.) There’s also the matter of the background check… why was the dad bringing that up the night before the wedding when he obviously had it done days or weeks before? There’s a simple fix to that… have him go on line and do a background check after the brother shows up and says some things that make him suspicious. You can get a ton on info on line these days. Or he could call his private eye buddy and have him do it and send it over.

    I think Jason was in over his head on this one. He knows how to direct, he’ll find his way as filmmaker, he just needed Project Greenlight to make sure he had a solid script to shoot. I think they failed him on that front. The time they had to rewrite that script seemed really short. Sounds like even the first script they were gonna use needed a lot of work. Why not find a really solid script? Or find two or three scripts that are good and give the director a choice. The winner can do a polish on the script before he shoots it, but he shouldn’t have to do major rewrites in that short a time frame.

  23. MTA says:

    It was better than Gigli…..
    Seriously though. I think it was a good film that could have been much better with a bit more time, perspective and focus on the film, not everyone’s personal agendas. When Effie started with a goal of diversity instead of a quality film and while reality TV can’t and/or doesn’t show the whole story, it was obvious that the conflict between the personalities was a set up for failure. Someone needs to take the reins, get the “fighting children” on the same page and focus on the product, not their own agendas. Jason and the film ultimately suffered because this didn’t happen. (Like the focus on “Fiona’s transformation” which didn’t happen.)

  24. I think once everybody decided they were too good to travel on a greyhound bus to Connecticut to make the film, it lost its soul on top of nobody noticed it was draped with a flawed script. Yet the director took this, and did not make a carwreck (or as hoped in one of his scenes either)… he made an almost decent movie, celebrating the spirit of putting fun and things that matter most first in an entertaining way. I still believe in this director, you are a fool to think he was running at his full speed, this is what he looks like drunk with mismatched personnel, rushed, and a flawed script. Not bad.

  25. I’m a filmmaker, Jamie Strong in NC and I’ve watched every episode of this season’s The Greenlight Project in Charlotte. This film soo sucked, great production, poor writing. I was really gunning for Jason to pull through, but he shot himself in the foot when he declined the shows script for his own. Terrible mistake. The “3” most important parts of a film? 1: The script. 2: The script. 3: The script. YouTube: dreamboatmovies

  26. W says:

    The biggest problem with the string of disappointing movies churned out in this is in the premise itself. They’re budgeted way too low. Jason actually fought for and repeatedly got more money, and he chose to waste it on frivolous, pretentious stuff like the $300,000 spent on film processing. Not to mention that these films have to be made with union film crews, earning union wages.

    C’mon Matt and Ben, put your money where your mouths are, if you do it again, it better be a $10-15 million dollar budget. Too risky? That’s the point. You can’t make anything good for less given the constraints, and you’re too afraid of losing money to expand the budget… There are no winners here.

    Of course, in Jason’s scenario, it sure would’ expectations been better for him if he actually wrote a one million dollar movie instead of something that required high end everything…. A horror-comedy set in the woods… A relationship drama set in a beach house…. A rom-com on a farm… These are low budget film ideas. A social satire and commentary on the movers and shakers of the upper crust is not a low budget idea. Why’d they even okay it?

    I think they should revert to the writer/director style from the jump. Chose the person with the strongest script AND best demo reel. If that’s not the case though, they need to start with a slam dunk of a script, even if it means bringing in top-tier talent to provide it. No first time director can make anything good from a bad script.

    • Jedi77 says:

      Clearly you know nothing about movies.
      Budget has nothing to do with it, unless you’re making a special effect extravaganza.
      The script, the script and then the acting, direction and cinematography. Budget doesn’t matter.

      Is Agents of Shield a better show than Rectify? It has a bigger budget. But no, it isn’t better.

      You do know that Blumhouse productions’ films all are made on a budget of about $1-5 million, right?
      And they don’t necessarily look cheap.

      • wadepmason says:

        Its got nothing to do with “looking cheap”. The guy wanted to total a car… Not a Camry, mind you, but a Porsche or whatever. Several other $80,000+ cars were shown in the film as well. The luxurious location… All that stuff costs money to get, AND money to insure. Union crews cost more money than non-Union crews that guerilla filmmakers use. (I’m not anti-Union at all, it’s just a matter of money. Production companies like those involved have to use Union crews, so increase the budget.

        The Blumhouse movies (while not usually particularly good either) are written and made with that budget in mind. It’s their business model. Also, horror has always been one of the cheapest genres to work in, as the threshold of quality is so low, practically any piece of garbage can turn a profit with a wide October release combined with a micro-budget JUST BECAUSE ITS SCARY. Comedy is basically the opposite. Jason did not write a small, million dollar movie. He barely wrote a movie at all. The script (the script) was awful and nothing made sense. He didn’t listen to Matt Damon’s note about making the one guy relatable. He didn’t make Fiona a real person with agency….

        Dude’s the worst kind of hack… A pretentious know it all. If he doesn’t listen to what anyone says, he’ll never be good, period. Watch “The Leisure Class” and “Clerks” as a double feature. Clerks has better characters, decent acting from amateurs, a better story, and a fraction of the budget… Shot on FILM! Budget isn’t everything, I know that, but Project Greenlight sets people up to fail from the start. Like I said, either give them a script that is meant to be low budget, or give them a proper budget for the film they’re shooting.

        Apatow comedies are $20 million movies… Granted, sizable chunks go into casting, but they’re good and make money!

  27. S says:

    I feel they picked Jason, not because he would make the best film, because his personality would make the best TV. And it was. Jason’s priorities were all crossed.

    To paraphrase a cinematography teacher. No body cares how good looking a movie is if the story is crap. Story. story, story.

    Hang in there Jason… Live and learn.
    .

  28. Karen says:

    Such a let down for me. I had hoped that all of the expertise and advice offered to the director would be able to deliver some type of interesting story or at least some time of character arc/development. All I am left with is feeling a massive let-down and disappointment with the movie and final product. It is a shame that this project was allowed to he greenlit, especially when you consider all of the allowances that were made to the chosen director. It feels as if he continually changed the rules as he went along, and and nobody ever took a stand against his kidnapping of the entire project. It was good drama during the documentary portion of the show, but I couldn’t help but feeling as if the entire project was a farce and shell game to keep me watching. The drama and conflict of the movie-making was educational and entertaining, but I feel used and that my buy-in was manipulated. Does this type of “reality docu-drama need to be programmed by networks to keep viewers interested and invested for the sake of ratings? Or do networks believe that viewers cannot handle a more realistic portrayal of legitimate film-making?

    • Edward says:

      I know those were rhetorical questions, but watch the Lord of the Rings extended edition documentaries if you want a realistic portrayal of big budget film making instead of indie film making.

      I thought The Chair on Starz was a better TV show, as it was about how two different indie film makers would make a movie with the same script, which is a far more interesting premise for TV, as you got to see these completely different films unfold, even if the films were rubbish.

  29. Edward says:

    Of course the movie isn’t going to be good when you’re filming a TV show while you’re trying to make a movie and all your unique artistic ideas that won you the competition in the first place are at cross purposes of those trying to help you. This format for movie making has never produced anything good.

    Also, Jason genuinely didn’t want to make the broad comedy HBO initially wanted to do, so they shouldn’t have hired him anyway. The reason Jason won the show was that he made very unique films that stood out from the rest, however, just because he has the most unique and identifiable voice compared to the rest doesn’t mean you rush into making any old movie with him. He could’ve won the competition part, but lost the “getting to make a movie” part.

    It also seemed like all the executive producers left Jason to fend for himself after the blow up between Effie Brown and Peter Farrelly, when they should’ve all been on the same page with each other as educators in a TV show ensemble for a rookie director. After that, Jason’s unique vision that won him the show was muted and suppressed through production. Jason’s a guy who would work well with the Louis C.K. model, where you just give him x amount of dollars with a production staff he knows, and he just does exactly what he wants, and you’ll get something, if nothing else, unique, as opposed to “The Leisure Class” a movie made by a committee. The short is infinitely better than the movie.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a singular process with a tight production staff that follows your every word, as opposed to a collaborative process with a large production staff that forces you to come up with new ideas, just look at James Cameron. Entitled jerks make good movies.

    There used to be this show on TV called “On The Lot” where a group of directors fought to win the competition by making short films every week, and I think Project Greenlight would be a lot better if instead of aiming for the elusive visionary indie film, they just make a TV show about throwing challenges at directors to see what they can come up with, and widdle them down week by week, and whoever wins, they get to work on a movie with Matt or Ben, instead of wasting everyone’s time making bad films.

    • MTA says:

      Very good points.

      • Edward says:

        To Carbar, I agree Project Greenlight broke it’s own rules but that is all on the executives, not Jason.

        Also, remember that this is a TV show that is edited together with it’s own bias towards portraying people in whatever light seems the most dramatic. Even Effie Brown said on her twitter feed that the finale was revisionist history as she just wasn’t there for the re-shoots, but she was for all the rest.

        I think a lot of people are confusing Jason’s frustration for contemptible behavior, when it’s just legitimate frustration created by repeated compromises sacred to his original idea. There’s the rub and what Jason needed to learn, that no idea in film making is sacred. “Best idea wins” was the mantra of Anna Martemucci from The Chair, and you can tell the difference in films from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Jason comes off as inflexible and near sighted, and perhaps a bit pretentious, but I don’t think he’s a malicious person, just a typical rookie INTJ trying to make his first feature and doesn’t know how to “pivot” as Effie duly noted.

      • carbar says:

        PG was nothing more than a TV show to manipulate viewers that this train wreck of film making was real.
        From the onset the show broke its own rules by allowing Mann to dictate he write this unfunny script & give previous winner some work. Show requirements was directing not script writing, but every whine he made got done. Mann wasn’t trying to win the spot from his interview, because he knew he had an “in” already.

        The TV show’s script was far better than Jason’s film and have concluded PG is pure sham. Farrelly quits as mentor, yet at finale’ hugging all like he did mentoring the entire time. All involved spoke out of both sides of their mouths, and Jason was a pure prick. One thing to fight for what you need, another to fight for what you want on somebody else’s dime.

        By the end I was so ticked at myself for spending time w/ such ugly people. Effie was the only reason I kept watching & each episode my heart hurt for her more & more. Never again will I watch such a manipulative view of so called film-making. Jason knew somebody of importance.

      • Edward says:

        Thank you.

        I read your post, and we agree with each other, due to the in-fighting, there was no executive producer support system for Jason after Peter Farrelly left, and his role needed to be transferred to someone else to do the hand’s on, day to day, guidance and mentorship needed to educate a rookie director and turn a new script into something of value. Effie Brown was just too busy and too involved with everything else on the production side of things to have to do the mentorship job as well, and it ended up falling on her shoulders, which wasn’t fair for her, nor was it the right person, because they simply couldn’t communicate well with each other. I think Len Amato is also too busy running a network to have to fill such a position.

        So, what did Jason learn from the experience? What can you possibly take away from an experience like this where you can leave more disgruntled, frustrated, and entitled because of a format that’s failed you? A few contacts and friendships maybe? Makes a young director question whether Project Greenlight is even a good way to transition into film making in the first place, given how it exposes your weaknesses for all the world to see on TV when you fail, and exposes the impossible nature of producing quality work under such constraints.

  30. Gloria says:

    The Leisure Class may have some leisure, but it’s short on class. If the F-bomb was dropped so often for impact, I’m wondering what it was impacting. Looked to fall in a deep, dark hole. I agree with Kyne about being stunned by the low brow humor and vulgarity. I was also stunned that HBO would rate this hot mess a PG. Are you kidding… PG?? The fault lies with the director, not the actors. They did as well as could be expected with what they had to work with. Anyway, just goes to prove money does not mean Class. Leisure or otherwise.

  31. jeff dillon says:

    This movie was horrible, not funny, not entertaining… how was so much angnst (not to mention MONEY) spent on this? I blame everyone involved, this was a complete waste of money, you should all be ashamed of yourselves (I’m talking to you Afflect and Damon!!!)

    • Sheila says:

      This movie was so tedious, defied logic of actual human response. Some scenes involving the silly banter were way to long. The family just stands around while all of the nonsense is happening and no one steps in and simply asks, whats’s going on here. And shame on anyone who would put out a movie where the patriarch cries because he only has daughters. This 2015 what a misogynist message to send out there. I would tell Jason to go back to his day job, this film and script is much like the Bentley it has shit all over it.

  32. Kyne Franks says:

    After watching the making of the Leisure Class, I knew this project was doomed. The arrogance of the director was problematic, this was his first film and he demanded film, wasted time on location, and the script. He is not a Ripley Scott or seasoned director. Watching the movie, I was stunned by the low brow humor and vulgar situations. I will give this one star, for effort.

  33. pete says:

    His short wasn’t all that. The show was more a lesson in Hollywood ‘s dysfunctionalism where they sink 3 mil on a slim premise with an undeveloped script and no time for meaningful rewrites. A true doc about the film process would probably have to cover at least three years. It’s nice of Damon and Affleck to highlight an original spec, but considering the schedule, they should’ve probably gone with an adaption of an existing property. That’s where most screenwriters earn their bread now anyway.

  34. Rex Hazard says:

    Why all of the hand-wringing during production by Jason Mann? He acts as if he is directing high art. I could tell during the production that he wasn’t directing Chekov or Shakespeare as evidenced by the low-brow dialogue (“defecating on the Bentley” / “licking each other’s buttholes.”) Much ado about nothing, indeed!

  35. Brett Tucker says:

    Why so serious?? I’m not sure airing the film after the final ep is quite so sinister. It’s a tv show about making a film. Relax.

  36. Matt Damon says:

    Why not air the film right after the final ep of Project Greenlight?

  37. Michael says:

    Contrived show….contrived movie…..it’s PROJECT GREENLIGHT!

    • Barbara says:

      Within the magnitude of problems of TLC, in the end Jason Mann is just not a storyteller. He was fixated on the minutiae of technical details while scoffing at the idea of fixing the script. He just doesn’t get it nor do I believe he ever will. Doesn’t matter that he’s a rookie with internal crew or budget problems or a short shooting schedule – you can teach mostly anyone the technical aspects of filmmaking but you can’t teach creativity and storytelling.
      And for Ms. Brown? Inappropriate behavior! It’s fine to have your own agenda but not on someone else’s nickel. You would’ve been off my set in a heartbeat!

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