Rambling: Directorial Impact

The Chair

Chris Moore was a co-producer on Good Will Hunting when several filmmakers were originally in consideration to direct, including: Kevin Smith, Mel Gibson, Michael Mann, and Steven Soderbergh. Ever since then, Moore was fascinated with the possibility of seeing those different visions with the same script. Moore, Affleck, and Damon would go on to produce Project Greenlight, a television series focusing on first-time filmmakers being given the chance to direct a feature film.

After three seasons, Moore would take that experience and finally crystallize his experiment into the reality competition television show, The Chair, which gave YouTuber Shane Dawson and NYU film school graduate Anna Martemucci each the opportunity to create movies based on same script by Dan Schoffer.

Consider and compare these two films based off the same initial script:

Project Greenlight

After a 10-year hiatus, Season 4 of Project Greenlight premiered this past Sunday and repeated this experiment with 13 different directors for 3-minute short films all with the same control- the identical script by the Farrlley Brothers (Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, etc).  All 13 submissions are available in this playlist. However, if you only have time to watch a few, just in terms of sheer contrast, consider these:

A baseline similar to the writers’ sensibilities.

A starkly different approach.

A completely cartoonish take.

There’s nothing radical about the idea that “the director is important” but rarely do we get so explicit an illustration.

The many hats a director has to wear all come together into something completely different: The casting, the vision, the style, the technology, the interpretation, the cinematography, the edit, the  collaborators, the performances, the budget, the execution, etc.  allow productions to diverge dramatically before our eyes. Even having read the script, we can be completely surprised by the ultimate outcome! An actor, an editor, a composer’s score, etc. can all make something work beyond the four-corners of the page.

Consider that the next time you’re concerned about an allegation arising from only the script.

Really, this whole rambling is so I could write that line… but let me meander around in the hopes of finding a second point.


I enjoy Snyder’s style and am encouraged that we will have his films to provide the universe with a spine, it’s great that he’s so invested he wants to do this again and again, and fantastic that a director that everyone praises as collaborative is at the center of it… but I can’t wait to see the visions the other directors bring to the cinematic universe too.  They each have their own voice and contributions which make for a richer and more diverse whole.

I think it’s interesting that Snyder’s assisting with a Dorito’s Superbowl campaign that democratizes direction… commercials are essentially short films and Snyder and Jenkins got their start in commercials… and Ben Affleck’s passion project is a show which gives a young filmmaker an opportunity to make their first feature.  They’re actively giving back, understanding they’re in a position of uncommon privilege (Jenkins once said something like she had been given a brass ring to make any movie she wanted but never wanted or expected fame; and has consciously been selective… electing to do Wonder Woman suggests she’s willing to put up with fame and a big film to say something) inviting more into a world where there’s no clear path.

While our directors are incredibly diverse in their personal lives, filmmaking origins, career paths, politics, religion, family life, age, etc.- meaning our Justice League of directors reflect that same kind of diverse-individuals working towards a common goal found in our fictional Justice League- I think we’ll get the best of both worlds: unique executions of their individual visions but also a coherent universe (you know, like the comic books!).  Why?  The filmography of our known directors share a certain intensity (one which George Miller’s Fury Road would align with nicely).


These are passionate, serious, intense filmmakers… from the plots of their films to their process. Snyder’s participation in the now-famous “300 Workout” is legendary and his films tend towards a dark irony without happy endings. Ayer wrangled the mad and method LaBeouf and reportedly looked after the mental health of his Suicide Squad actors by providing a psychotherapist, not to mention his earlier films. Jenkins found herself diving deep into the minds of convicts and killers and Wan is responsible for a modern horror renaissance. Affleck’s thillers are routinely praised as tense and gripping. This is nothing new or surprising, we already knew this was the direction Warner Brothers was aiming for, but we can see that intention in the selection of those directors. The films will vary in subject matter, the fantastic, their humor, the role of magic, the period and setting, and more… but they’ll be unified by the intensity of their filmmakers and the common shared universe.

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  1. Hi again Doctor is me, I just wanted to pass by and ask you a question, is not about Superman actually, is about the Flash:

    You have expressed in some Podcasts how you are into the deal of depicting Super-Speed on screen, and how you are also a fan of the Flash. Well I was on YouTube and found this amazing video;


    That video made me wonder some things; Will they be capable of depicting Flash running at such speeds on screen (either TV or film)? Would they even do it? Or doing so could hurt the realist take they are trying to take on the Flash on both the big and small screens?

    • In terms of physics, the Speed Force pretty much solves the realism issues with Flash’s speed… the real trouble is maintaining internal consistency with feats and failings so that you don’t write yourself into a corner where it’s inexplicable why Flash didn’t do this, didn’t do that, etc. It is extremely tough to write a powerful speedster with internal consistency which is why they tend to get written out of stories… like Quicksilver not continuing on with the story / mission in DOFP or Quicksilver- ahem- not continuing on with the story in AOU.

      With the TV series, the main solution is to dial back on the rigid reality and rationality of the series and just let those things go. That’s a valid approach and one the DCCU might go down once the world and tone broadens. However, my preference is if they’re really carefully think it through and masterfully execute it… it’s by no means easy, but Flash is only slated for 3-4 appearances so far (Flash, JL1 + 2, and BvS)… with such a finite amount of storytelling, it’s possible- even if still difficult- to explain and powerful, logically consistent (internally) speedster if you’re deliberate and careful about it.

      Another way to go about it is to amp up the “magic” of the Speed Force so that it is inherently inconsistent and unreliable… though you risk turning Flash into a walking (running?) plot device.

      There’s no one single approach, irrespective of my preference, and good storytelling and execution will forgive a multitude of sins.

  2. Thanks for sharing those short films of the speed dating, really cool seeing how different of tones each one had.

    • Thanks for watching. It really shows how vastly the same point on a script can differ so we should relax if something doesn’t immediately sit well just from its reading on the page. Although Snyder’s not the strongest writer, he still has talent there, he’s extremely collaborative (likely to consider notes more) and I think we’re getting a better baseline script to begin with this time around.

      Additionally, we may see the DCCU broaden in tone even further as more films are added to the slate and directors are announced!

  3. Hi Dr,

    I would like to know what is your opinion on sebastian stan shot fired comments on zack snyder comments on ant-man being flavour of the week?

    Do you think marvel and dc always play up their rivalry in a good way or bad way?

    • I know you aren’t asking me but I think Sebastian Stan and many others took Zack Snyder’s comment out of context. Zack Snyder was asked a question about what was his response to Steven Spielberg’s quote about “Superhero movies going the way of the Western” he said that even if there was a Superhero movie implosion Batman and Superman would still be around in movie form even if Batman v Superman failed financially.

      After the comment in the same interview he said he liked the Marvel movies and couldn’t wait to see Ant-Man with his wife.

      • Yeah what Halberdier said, some people likes to twist others filmmakers’ words just for the sake of fanboying, Snyder said nothing negative about the MCU, but that didn’t stopped raging bloggers and diehard fanboys from claiming that Snyder hates MARVEL and that his movie will destroy them.

        The actors themselves, however, don’t seem to have the same level of professionalism; RD Jr bashing on TDK, Jason Momoa’s “infamous” autograph, the Suicide Squad cast’s claim of “who” has better villains, and now this. At the end of the day, I guess they are fans too.

        • Thanks for the insight. I really hate that samuel l jackson thinks that DC heroes cannot attract more audiences compare than marvel. I just don see whats the point of bashing or nitpicking each other when it only serves to just to incite more fanboy rage like now currently between sebastian stan and zack snyder

    • I don’t really think anything about such comments except that the press and the fans blow them out of proportion.

      Snyder is personal friends with many people involved in the MCU (he directed Dawn of the Dead written by Guardians director James Gunn, for example), he’s been a comic book fan all his life, he’s enjoying the MCU even if its not his approach. Occasionally, something will be taken out of context, but there’s no actual meaningful rivalry.

      Kevin Tsujihara called Alan Horn to congratulate them on Guardians, they coordinate their press releases and now their release dates to avoid the same kind of debacle that lead to the CM3 and BvS jam. They are competitors sure, but they’re colleagues first and share way more in common than differences. It’s like in the courtroom… although the prosecutor and defense are on opposite sides of an issue, they usually share way more in common as fellow attorneys and officers of the court, than they do with their clients who are at odds, making it unsurprising that they can zealously argue against one another in court, but then share drinks together after the case is over and done.

      The truth is that the vast majority of fans enjoy and consume both even if they have a preference for one over the other (the people who watch only one company exclusively is pretty slim by comparison). So it’s not really in either company’s interest to play up the rivalry too seriously because that’s alienating an audience member who likes both. Nonetheless the press plays it up because it draws clicks and some actors ham it up because it draws attention, but even those actors themselves will end up crossing party lines and watching the other company’s movies.

      So, in short, I wouldn’t stress about it. It’s unavoidable because the press isn’t going to let a phantom rivalry go, but it’s also basically meaningless since 90% of the audience is going to end up consuming both eventually.

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