Matt Damon News Column (mattdamoncolumn) wrote,
Matt Damon News Column

Final PGL episode recap

  • Thanks to Natasha for her re-cap of the final episode of Project Greenlight series 3.

    The photos on your site were mostly from the third screening they had for all the producers and industry folks associated with the film. Matt and Ben arrived separately, and Kevin Smith showed up, probably at the invitation of Ben. After the screening, John fields questions from his audience---he's really come a long way---and Matt explains that during one sequence, the cuts were so fast that there was no clear sense of geography to the place and it got confusing. He suggests that they include a wide shot to define the scene better, to which John starts clownishly coughing to imply that they would if they had the shot. Matt's like, "well, you don't need a Master, but something...[inaudible]".

    Joel notes in his interview that John was quietly, yet firmly, pointing out to his guests that any improvements they want to make are going to require additional shooting, as they didn't have the time or money to cover everything that was needed to make the story coherent. Andrew Rona is there and, still very pleased with the cut, starts asking his collective group where they want to go from there. He thinks Bob and Harvey will get behind re-shoots and more money for the project 100%, meanwhile, they should have a real screening for an audience in a few weeks.

    In Matt's off-site interview, wearing a clingy chocolate brown shirt and a baseball cap stitched with FULL FRONTAL-----gee, he never gets tired of advertising for his friends, huh?----and sounding like he has a bad cold with a stuffy nose, Matt confesses, "It's unique for the Greenlight experience to have the studio to offer to put more money into the project. Generally, it's a, you know, it involves grovelling and begging.”

    After they are done with the Q&A, they all adjoin to another room for pizza. Matt, grabbing several slices and ready to scarf them down, tells Andrew Rona, "see, I told you he was a good director", grinning all the while. As everyone is leaving, Matt and Ben meet up in the hall and you can just hear the last lines of what they are discussing. They are shaking hands and Ben is saying, "alright, give me a call. Let me know how the reading goes".

    Obviously, this was a few days before production on THE DEPARTED was to begin. Btw, funny wardrobe detail I noticed. At the screening, Matt is wearing his beloved battered jeans with double tees (and double snug), the outside one read DIVE ADVENTURES---MYKONOS on the back, so Bourne shooting shout-out. Ben was wearing the ever popular, trusty grey tee with the picture of the squirrel and THE NUTS emblazoned across the top.

    Continuing with Matt's interview, he gushes, "I thought John did a really good job, he just proved himself to be a really capable director, and I feel.....I feel good about that because, you know, obviously we fought pretty hard to get him there." Next, there is a test screening in LA at the Pacific Theatres and while the crowd visibly enjoys the film; and Moore and company were thrilled with how things went during the showing, but it doesn't test very high. Everyone is shocked at the low scores and Gulager says he suddenly feels transported to Season 2 when Shaker Heights had such an enthusiastic response from the audience and then the numbers slapped them in the face.

    However, in a meeting the next day, Rona confirms that everyone at Dimension is still behind the movie and that they are prepared to make a better film by fixing the problems and addressing the criticisms in the polling.

    Meanwhile, we see Matt meet up with Gulager in NY for lunch at Butter. Matt is in his favorite jean jacket. He tells the camera, "I had lunch with John. I'm in the middle of shooting a movie [Departed shout-out No. 2], so I begged him to come all the way to New York, so that I could just get an update on the process, and also just to tell him what a great job I thought he did."

    He relays to Gulager that during their selection screening he was filming OCEAN'S 12, so he was reviewing the shorts in his trailer when Don Cheadle came in and watched them with him. (John: "Oh, I love Don Cheadle") As Cheadle was exiting the trailer, he non-chalantly and rhetorically indicated that surely they were going with the Gulager short, to which Matt replies, of course.

    Honestly, this guy Gulager has probably never had so much extolling and validation in his entire career, though his family is pretty damn supportive. In Matt's conversation with John, he tells him, "Look, obviously, you know the interview, the interview was a disaster, it's not about the interview, it's about the work and your short films were fantastic". He goes on to declare, " they were superior to anything I'd seen come out of that website.". John seemed overwhelmed and very appreciative of the kind words.

    Then Matt asks him, "What's next for John Gulager?" John tells him that opportunites were definitely arising for him. Matt interjects, "opportunities are arising not because of Greenlight, it's because of you, and look, we could go down in flames, but we'll find something." Not sure I understood that last part meant. He does confirm in his interview that he would definitely consider working with John. "You need a few components, you need a director you believe in, a script you believe in, and a role that you feel you can do something with." So, there it is, Mr. Damon's approach to acting in a nutshell. He adds, "I definitely believe in John."

    And to end it on a happy note, after the producers nervously await Dimension's decision on the fate of the film, Rona comes through for them all. I thought he was a bit of a prick at the beginning of this show, and he was pretty damn blunt about his lack of faith in their choice of director, but he turned out to be a very sweet and generous man. He called the office to give the good news to a roomful of relieved producers and warmly thanked each and every one of them for all their hard work and finally, when he comes to John, he tells him, "John, you're no contest winner, you're no joke. You are the true, real deal. You're a filmmaker. You made a great movie and you rose to the challenge. You came into this and proved that you could direct a movie given the chance, and that's really what Project Greenlight is about. I'm proud of you and I wish I was there to give you a hug."

    Now, I ask you, has there ever been a more lovely declaration in all of PGL's history? It ended on a great little trip to Las Vegas in the Maloof Bros. lear jet, to have a wrap party in the Palms Casino where the whole gang was delivered the news that, of the six projects Harvey and Bob were taking to their new venture, FEAST was going to be one of them. Very, very satisfying episode. Hugs all around!

  • For Australian readers, Matt's appearance on E's The Entertainer will air on Sunday's show.
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