Starz new reality competition let the viewers choose the director

In the new Starz reality competition The Chair, two young filmmakers – Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci – are given a challenge: Make a feature-length film shot in Pittsburgh, using the same script and a budget of just under $1 million.

A 10-part documentary airing on Starz 11 p.m. Saturday will show all of the similarities and differences. At the end, viewers will determine which director should pocket the $250,000 grand prize.

Zachary Quinto – best known as playing Spock in the reboot of the Star Trek franchise–is an executive producer and served as a mentor to both filmmakers.

“I had a certain level of skepticism about involving myself in a documentary series, but I think the thing that I recognize is that this show was made with a certain level of creative integrity, and it truly is a documentation rather than a manipulation,” Quinto says. “I think that Anna and Shane will both attest to that as the filmmakers. We stayed out of the way. We captured stuff, and we tell the story of the show based on what actually happened rather than trying to make things happen.

The appeal of the show, says Quinto, is the viewer gets to see the inherent drama in filmmaking. Those challenges will be magnified because the two directors don’t have years of experience making feature films to prepare them for the demands. Dawson is one of YouTube’s most successful creators with more than 10 million subscribers. NYU grad Martemucci has worked on independent film projects.

If you don’t have the Starz channel, there will be a chance to see the finished results. Both films will have limited theatrical distribution.

Rick Bentley

The Fresno Bee