In terms of original programming, much of what we've seen from Starz falls into the drama category, but the premium cable channel appears ready to tackle unscripted programming, as they're moving forward with a new docuseries called The Chair, which is being creed by Chris Moore (Project Greenlight, Promised Land, Good Will Hunting). Starz says the 10-episode series just wrapped principal photography in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and they're aiming to get the series on the air this Fall (2014).
The Chair is described as a competition documentary series that will follow two directors as they bring their first feature to the screen. If there's a twist in this concept, it's that both directors will be working with the same screenplay, which they'll craft into their own film. The series will document the creation, marketing and theatrical release of both adaptations. And, in a great move on the network's part, both movies will also air on Starz, giving viewers a chance to look at the finished products before voting to decide which director will win the $250,000 prize.
The two directors selected to compete (pictured above) are Anna Martemucci and Shane Dawson. Both are first-time feature film directors, but both have experience at filmmaking. Dawson has a comedy-focused YouTube channel while Martemucci is a writer, actor and filmmaker. So these are both up-and-coming directors, each with their own unique set of experience and skill sets that will certainly come into play as they tackle this project.
In terms of the source material they'll be working with, the script is titled How Soon is Now, and it's described as:
a coming-of-age feature length comedy that chronicles the first homecoming on Thanksgiving weekend by a handful of college freshman who are fumbling towards adulthood, written by Dan Schoffer and produced by Josh Shader.
The Chair's two competing directors will have the flexibility to craft this film to suit their own vision. That can include doing screenplay rewrites, casting actors, hiring the crewmembers and even choosing the name of the film. Both directors will have the same budget and will use locations in the same city to make their movies.
Set to mentor the directors is Zachary Quinto, along with his producing partners Corey Moosa, Neal Dodson and Sean Akers. Also mentoring will be Chris Moore and the script's original producer, Josh Shader.
I think the thing that's really intriguing about this series, beyond the opportunity it's offering to two budding filmmakers to create a feature film, is that both directors are working off the same script. I'd love it if this series succeeded in chronicling the evolution of a film from script to screen, especially comparing one film to the next to show just how different one director's approach might be to the same story from another's. I already can't wait to see both movies. Beyond that, those looking to learn more about filmmaking might find something in this series, as it'll hopefully give us plenty of insight into the process of filmmaking as well as the decisions these directors will have to make to try to come out with the better movie.