Project Greenlight

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Project Greenlight TV Poster Image
Solid filmmaking doc showcases creativity, hard work.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Filmmaking requires creativity, team building, and hard work.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mentors try to help; some directors are cocky.


Film segments feature weapons, bloody wounds, graphic violence.


Film scenes sometimes include strong sexual innuendo; prostitution a theme.


Lots of cursing ("s--t," "f--k").


Facebook, HBO, Bravo, Sundance are mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking (cocktails, beer); occasional films show smoking/drug use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the documentary series Project Greenlight, which is produced by Hollywood powerhouses Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, features budding filmmakers producing a feature-length film. There's lots of cursing, and much of the creative work presented includes very violent and occasional explicit material. Drinking is visible both on- and offscreen. Movies and media-related outlets such as Bravo, HBO, Facebook, and the Sundance Film Festival are discussed, but it's within the context of the film’s production. Teens interested in moviemaking will definitely want to tune in, but non-movie buffs may be less interested. 

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What's the story?

PROJECT GREENLIGHT is a documentary series (which has aired on both HBO and Bravo) about what it really takes to make a film. Executive producers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck want to invest millions of dollars in budding directors to help them make full-length movies. Before each season begins, filmmakers are invited to submit their work for review and consideration for the project. After several rounds of elimination to narrow down the thousands of entries, Damon, Affleck, and members of their production team determine which writer and/or director will receive the funds and have his or her project "greenlit" for production. With the help of industry mentors, including previous Project Greenlight winners, they must work within their budgets and manage their time, team, and talent to successfully produce a feature film. At the end of each series, the finished production is screened.

Is it any good?

The unapologetic and insightful series offers a behind-the-scenes look at the process by which a feature film is made and at the many challenges filmmakers face. It also highlights (intentionally or otherwise) some of the problems with the industry, including its ruthless competitiveness and the lack of gender and racial/ethnic diversity.

There are slow moments, but this is mainly because the actual process of making a movie often is pretty tedious. But the interaction among Damon, Affleck, and other mentors on their team are quite interesting, especially when they're discussing the specific aspects of the filmmaking process. Budding filmmakers of all ages will certainly learn a lot of from the show.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it means to "greenlight" a project in the film and TV industry. Is what you see in this series similar to what happens in Hollywood when a project is being considered for production? What do you consider to be the most challenging part of the process? 

  • The TV and filmmaking industry is often criticized for underrepresenting or stereotyping people of various sexual orientations and racial/ethnic backgrounds. If there were more diversity among producers, directors, and writers, how do you think this might change?

TV details

  • Premiere date: September 13, 2015
  • Cast: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
  • Network: HBO
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-MA
  • Available on: DVD, Streaming
  • Last updated: September 21, 2019

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