It’s always interesting to see two different takes on the same screenplay. Between Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion: A Prequel to the Exorcist we got to see two different directors (Renny Harlin and Paul Schrader) tackle the same film from mainly the same part. After Dominion was not thought to be genre appropriate, Harlin got to add some scenes into the film to make it a more traditional horror film. Dominion wound up being the better film than Harlin’s schlock fest, of course, but the dilemma is still there. What could two people do with the same screenplay but taking different takes on the subject?
That’s what The Chair aims to settle. Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci were given the same screenplay with one objective in mind: make the film you want to make out of it. Dawson crafted Not Cool, a raunchy sex comedy about a bunch of friends coming home over Thanksgiving break. Hollidaysburg was more in the vain of The Big Chill, a somber drama about friends discovering how much they’ve changed over a Thanksgiving break since going to college. The First season of The Chair follows Dawson and Martemucci through the creative process, with multiplatform voting being used to choose a winner.
$250,000 is on the line as both directors have the same budget, and same production time, but two very different paths to craft a film.
It’s a rare look behind the scenes of a film as we get to see two people with two very different backgrounds tackle the same project. Martemucci is an indie jill of all trades, indie famous for writing Breakup at a Wedding. Dawson is a YouTube star, making his living off the video website. It’s an interesting choice of directors. On the one hand you have Martemucci with clear indie sensibilities, hence Hollidaysburg having more of a Big Chill type of feel. Dawson, who wound up losing the support of producer Zachary Quinto after completion, brings a much different one honed from years of acting as his own censor.
It leads to an interesting viewpoint into the creative process as we go from pre-production to the screening and eventual decision to the victor.
The show itself could’ve been cut to a two hour documentary, of course, but it’s a much more interesting story told as episodic television. It’s fascinating to see the two first time directors go through the entire process. Dawson is used to doing things his way, with his people, and having to work the indie system is much more difficult than he admittedly expected. Martemucci is used to the indie world, with all of the problems therein, but is at times over her head with the responsibility of being in charge. It makes for an interesting dynamic as we see the two at the exact same point in the process throughout the film-making process.
It also gives an interesting take on how two people view their first opportunity to make a film. Martemucci is more of the auteur, insulated from a lot by her production team so she can focus on the film. Dawson is the hands on filmmaker, taking a hands on approach to everything and insulating himself from a lot of criticism after years spent as the final voice for his YouTube channel. Throw in both aiming for wildly different audiences, and wildly different conceptions of this first chance as a director, and it makes for a great viewing because it’s an insight into film-making that’s rare.
It makes for a terrific viewpoint into the art of making a movie. You get two very different perspectives and can compare the finished products against one another, as both films are included with the series.
Both feature length films, Hollidaysburg and Not Cool, are included.
Anchor Bay presents The Chair (Season 1). Run Time: 667 minutes Not Rated. Released on DVD:
Tags: The Chair