Starz To Use Second Screen Voting for New Unscripted Series "The Chair"

written by: Richard Kastelein

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starzStarz announced today its first original unscripted series, "The Chair," created by Chris Moore, the Executive Producer of Oscar®-winning Good Will Hunting and Emmy®-nominated "Project Greenlight." "The Chair" is a competition documentary series that follows two directors through the process of bringing their first feature to the screen and through multiplatform voting, the audience will determine which director will be awarded $250,000.

The up-and-coming directors, who have unique backgrounds and skill sets, will be provided with an identical screenplay which they must craft as their own film.

"The Chair" will document the creation, marketing and theatrical release of both adaptations, which will also air on STARZ. Both directors will be given the same budget, and both versions will use locations in the same city. 

Filmmakers Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci will adapt "How Soon is Now," 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.

While they are both first-time feature film directors, Dawson is an internet superstar whose YouTube comedy channels boast more than 10 million subscribers and over a billion views. Martemucci is a writer, actor and filmmaker who most recently received critical recognition for her independent film Breakup at a Wedding, which she starred in and wrote. Both directors will have creative leeway to develop their film using their own ingenuity and distinct experience. Screenplay rewrites, the casting of actors, hiring of crewmembers - even the name of the film - will be up to the directors and documented in the series.

Actor Zachary Quinto ("American Horror Story," "Star Trek," "Heroes") and his producing partners Corey Moosa, Neal Dodson and Sean Akers will be featured in "The Chair" as they join Chris Moore and the script's original producer, Josh Shader, to serve as mentors to Dawson and Martemucci in their quest to develop the winning adaptation.

"We are thrilled to be teaming up with Chris Moore on 'The Chair,' a truly unique and compelling project that gives viewers an inside look at the filmmaking process and allows them to weigh in on the final product and see how creative minds can interpret the same material in different ways," says Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director of Starz. "With the addition of 'The Chair' to our existing roster of originals, Starz is excited to offer its subscribers an excess of fifty hours of original programming in 2014."

"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," says Chris Moore. "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."

"The Chair is a great opportunity to support new voices in filmmaking," explains Quinto. "Before the Door's first three films, including the award-winning Margin Call, were made with first-time directors and we have become keenly aware of the challenges of being a new talent in the business.  Helping to nurture these talents, these voices, is incredibly rewarding and a big part of why we chose to begin producing ourselves."

"The Chair" is Executive Produced by Chris Moore and Anthony B. Sacco, in partnership with Starz, and in association with Steel Town Entertainment Project and Point Park University inPittsburgh; and Quinto's production company, Before the Door Pictures. The project is also supported by Animal, Inc. and Allegheny County.

The 10-part series just wrapped principal photography in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and will premiere in fall 2014 on STARZ. Starz will retain all domestic multiplatform pay TV rights to the original series.

About the Author

Richard Kastelein
Founder of The Hackfest, publisher of TV App Market and global expert on Media & TV innovation, Kastelein is an award winning publisher and futurist. He has guest lectured at MIT Media Lab, University of Cologne, sat on media convergence panel at 2nd EU Digital Assembly in Brussels, and worked with broadcasters such as the BBC, NPO, RTL (DE and NL), Eurosport, NBCU, C4, ITV, Seven Network and others on media convergence strategy - Social TV, OTT, DLNA and 2nd Screen etc.

He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and UK Royal Television Society (RTS) member.

Kastelein has spoken (& speaking) on the future of media & TV in Amsterdam, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Brighton, Copenhagen, Cannes, Cologne, Curacao, Frankfurt, Hollywood, Hilversum, Geneva, Groningen (TEDx), Kuala Lumpur, London, Las Vegas, Leipzig, Madrid, Melbourne, NYC, Rio, Sheffield, San Francisco, San Jose, Sydney, Tallinn, Vienna, Zurich...

He's been on advisory boards of TEDx Istanbul, SMWF UK, Apps World, and judged & AIB awards, Social TV Awards Hollywood, TV Connect & IPTV Awards.

A versatilist & autodidact, his leadership ability, divergent and synthetic thinking skills evolved from sailing the world 24000 miles+ offshore in his 20′s on sailboats under 12m.

He spent 10 years in the Caribbean media & boating industry as a professional sailor before returning to Europe, to Holland.

A Creative Technologist and Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Metis) his career began in the Canadian Native Press and is now a columnist for The Association for International Broadcasting and writes for Wired, The Guardian & Virgin. His writings have been translated into Polish, German and French. 

One of Kastelein's TV formats was optioned by Sony Pictures Television in 2012. 

Currently involved in a number of startups including publishing TV App Market online, The Hackfest and Tripsearch TV. As CSO for Worldticketshop he helped build a $100m company.

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