By Sahil Patel
Pay-TV channel Starz’s first original documentary series, “The Chair,” will star YouTuber Shane Dawson.
The premise of “The Chair” is interesting as it will also lead to Dawson’s first theatrically-released film as a director. The competition series pits two filmmakers against each other to create a feature-length film from the same script, with equal-sized budgets, and shooting in the same city. Across 10 episodes, “The Chair” will document the creation, marketing, and theatrical release of each filmmaker’s adaptation.
This is all for a chance to win $250,000, which will be determined by an audience vote.
Dawson is one of the contestants in the first season, the other being independent filmmaker Anna Martemucci. Both were given full creative license to adapt “How Soon Is Now,” a coming-of-age comedy written by Dan Schoffer, including decisions on screenplay rewrites, casting, hiring crew members, and even naming their film.
If this all sounds a little familiar to you, know that “The Chair” is created by Chris Moore, executive producer of “Project Greenlight,” the Emmy-nominated reality series from creators Ben Affleck and Matt Damon that gave first-time filmmakers the chance to make their first feature film.
“In the past decade, the internet has changed so many aspects of the creative filmmaking process, and ‘The Chair’ will give viewers the opportunity to see if the skills that enable a director to thrive in the fast-paced online video world can translate into a compelling feature-length experience,” said Chris Moore.
Moore is, of course, referring to Dawson, who has an audience of more than 10 million subscribers across three YouTube channels.
“It’s also going to be fascinating to watch as a more traditional artist finds ways to challenge an undisputed master of online promotion for attention (and votes) for her project,” added Moore.
Alongside Moore, “The Chair” is executive produced by Anthony B. Sacco, in partnership with Starz and in association with Steel Town Entertainment Project and Point Park University in Pittsburgh. Actor Zachary Quinto’s production company, Before the Door Pictures, is also executive producing.
Quinto, who has starred in “Heroes” and J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” films, will also be appearing in “The Chair” alongside producing partners Corey Mossa, Neal Dodson, and Sean Akers. They will join Moore and “How Soon Is Now”’s original producer Josh Shader as mentors to Dawson and Martemucci.
“The Chair” just wrapped principal photography in Pittsburgh and will premiere in the fall. Starz has all domestic multi-platform pay-TV rights to the property.
Last October, Dawson sold a half-hour sitcom, partially based on his life, to NBC with Olive Bridge Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television. He is repped by UTA.