Lat week, we wondered whether Jason had he talent to justify his demanding directorial behavior. Now, once again, we begin an episode of Project Greenlight, “Accident Waiting to Happen” with a setup of Jason vs. Effie and the crew during the final days of shooting The Leisure Class (which looks like it might be not so bad, based on the preview that ran before this episode). But by the end of the episode, the main enemy is time and the advent of daylight during the final night of shooting.
“This is filmmaking, right?” muses Nicole Columbie at the outset, “There will always be a conflict between creative and financial. Always. So it’s not new to any of us except maybe Jason.”
The issue that brings the by-now familiar oppositional sides to conflict in this particular installment is a stunt, specifically what Jason wants: a car flip. Alison, the location scout, has found several acceptable remote roads upon which to stage said stunt, but none of them are passing Jason’s muster. The producers are ready to just choose a location without him.
“You are not going to get what you keep asking for,” says Alison, who describes that day as her “shit or get off the pot day.” “The only place you’re going to get a fully-shrouded road is a residential neighborhood,” she explains to Jason. And they don’t have the big studio bucks to bribe, err, convince, the residents to let them shoot all night in such a neighborhood. “It’s not like I want these things because they’re cool. All of these things are to tell the story,” says Jason.
It’s time to shoot. “Last day!” says Effie with a big grin. She is counting down the hours. The big stung was, as noted, supposed to be a car flip — but the production team is not up to a full flip, so the shot ends up being more like a car nudge, a car bump, or an aggressive car-on-car elbowing incident. “It has to look like a dangerous, serious car accident has happened,” Jason instructs the stunt folks. They use toy cars to explain what is about to happen. There’s an ambulance standing by as the crew gets together and offers their wishes for a “big, safe hit.”
Meanwhile, Ben Affleck and Len Amatao show up on set, kibbitzing with each other about Jason being the “real thing” and “standing up for what he wanted.” It’s a different perspective from what we’ve heard from the crew, for sure. “Directing’s a lonely job. You can get really demoralized,” explains Ben, who has shown up to help his bro direct. “You want someone to tell you that they support you and you’re doing a good job.” He stays around while they shoot the “acting” part of the stunts, which involves riding in a “process trailer“, which is a trailer with a car on it, dragged behind another car filming the first car as it moves. The effect? It looks like the characters are driving.
After this scene cuts, rigging some of the shots has everyone running late. There’s only a few hours to sunrise, and everyone is freaking out, like vampires knowing their hours are numbered. Jason and Effie stand and talk about how much easier it would be if they had ten extra days and a million dollars, and their relationship isn’t even that fractious. Everyone just wants those final hours to go well.
“It has to feel like it was a legitimately dangerous, legitimately consequential scenario,” Jason explains, before he tells the crew: “We’re only doing one take, and it’s going to be pretty fast and pretty hard.” The stunt happens, and Jason’s response is to be disappointed that the car richocheted out of position. He didn’t get the stunt he wanted. Yet when he asks the crew if they can do it again, the response is a hearty no. So sound editing and cutting will have to do the job. “At least we’re going to get a bit of a real impact,” says Jason.
They film one more emotional scene, a breakup between the two brothers, and after whispering to each actor about his motivation, they film — and Jason nods his approval. Ladies and gentleman, that’s a wrap! Effie is delighted , cheering and dancing, and the actors are having that reaction you do when you’re ending an immersive, life-changing experience. They’re back to reality. As for Jason, he’s headed to the editing room where he’s putting the final pieces together, and we know the drama around this final part of the process will be what fuels the season finale next week.