Here’s Jason Mann, the winning director of the fourth season of Project Greenlight.
This is one of those instances where a guy acts just like he looks: Like a pretentious douchebag. In his interview in the competitive round of the show, he came in acting like he was better than the rest of the competition, trashed the existing screenplay, and essentially said that, if he were selected, he wouldn’t make the movie that they’d pitched.
Naturally, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon chose him, either because he honestly had the most pure talent among the other directors vying for the job, or because he’d be the most interesting selection for the series, and by that, I mean: The guy most likely to provide drama. He’s certainly managed that, because unlike the other directors, Jason Mann doesn’t kiss up to Affleck and Damon. He does not express gratitude. He is not humble.
In fact, after being announced as the winner, the very first thing that Mann did was to approach Affleck and Damon and demand that the writer of the screenplay being used for the film be fired, and that it be made on film instead of digital.
He’s been a pill ever since.
He did not get his wish to fire the screenwriter, although he did ultimately get his wish to abandon the existing screenplay and rewrite one of his own with the existing screenwriter. That was probably best for the film.
However, the issue of whether to shoot digitally or on film has been one that has been a thorn in the side or pre-production. The creative types want film; the producer types want to shoot it digitally, because it cost $300,000 less than film (and the film’s budget is only $3 million). Any other director in Jason Mann’s shoes would’ve backed down, but Mann has an ego the size of a hipster mustache.
Enter Effie Brown.
Brown has been amazing through three episode of Greenlight, for the most part. You may remember her from the premiere episode, as the only black person in the room asking the selection panel to factor diversity into their decision. She was the woman on the receiving end of Matt Damon’s whitesplaining.
Brown, who has produced 17 films (and never misses an opportunity reiterate the point), has basically kept Mann’s ego in check. Without Brown, production on the film probably wouldn’t have advanced past the first week. She has to weigh Mann’s creative vision for the film against the realities of the budget, and ultimately, she has to bring Mann down to her reality.
She has been fighting Mann on the digital/film issue since day one.
Brown, however, also has an affinity for manufacturing drama, which makes her a great producer for a film that is also the subject of a reality show. She’s tough, but fair, and she doesn’t like having her toes stepped upon.
Enter Peter Farrelly, one half the the Farelly Brothers, the directors behind There’s Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber. Farelly has been kind enough to offer his services as mentor to Jason Mann, though Farelly doesn’t appear to be much of a fan of the director himself. He finds Mann to be pretentious and ungrateful. He has, nevertheless, honored his commitments, providing advice to Mann and extensive notes on his script.
That is, until this week, when Peter Farrelly abruptly quit. Why? Because Farrelly — whose only role is as mentor and consultant — got in the middle of Mann and Effie Brown on the digital/film question. He was only trying to help, but by inserting himself into that conversation, Effie Brown took offense.
It felt like a minor misunderstanding, but Brown blew it out of proportion, getting upset with Farrelly for essentially duplicating something that she’d already done, namely walk Mann through a process that makes shooting digitally look more like shooting on film. Farrelly ultimately wanted the same thing as Brown, but he consulted directly with the director instead of going through her, and in doing so, stepped “in her lane.”
In a phone conversation, Brown was both direct and passive aggressive with Farelly, who clearly had no idea that he’d done anything wrong. Effie Brown did not give a shit that Farelly was oblivious to his wrongdoing. She basically told him to back off and let her do her job, while Farrelly was basically like, “What? What did I do?”
It was an unnecessary and awkward battle, but it was entertaining from the viewers’ standpoint. In the end, however, Farelly decided to quit. “I”m running for the hills” he said. “I was really excited … [but] I don’t want to work under these conditions. I can see that Effie wants drama, but I do not want to engage in it.”
Next week, we get to find out how Matt and Ben react to Farrelly quitting, and whether it will ultimately derail the project or endanger the job of Effie Brown who, this drama notwithstanding, is absolutely necessary if this film is going to succeed.