As an indie filmmaker I found it irresistible to watch The Chair, a ten-episode Starz series about two indie films being made from the same script by two first-time feature directors. Here’s why the series and the two resulting films were worth watching even though by my standards both directors were stuck with a script that required comedy geniuses to succeed.


The Chair poster

Here’s the storyline, such as it is. A popular high-school student returns home for Thanksgiving from his first semester at college and the first thing that happens is his high-school girlfriend breaks up with him. Romance and hilarity ensues.

Here’s the storyline of Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing: Soldiers return home from battle. Romance and hilarity ensues.

Here’s the usual description of the long-running sitcom Seinfeld: A comedy about nothing.

Get the pattern? Comedy can be successful making people laugh by frequent gags alone. It doesn’t require Hitchcock level intrigue or plot.

YouTube star Shane Dawson, given writer Dan Schoffer’s formulaic comedy screenplay to direct, understood this instinctively and chose to make a formulaic teen comedy frontloading poop, puke, and dick jokes. He succeeded and won the $250,000 competition.

Why I Couldn’t Turn Down Starz’s Filmmaking Experiment ‘The Chair’By Anna Martemucci

The more serious screenwriter/actress Anna Martemucci when given the Dan Schoffer formulaic comedy as her first directing job decided to make a quality character movie. But because it was much ado about nothing, there was no plot or distinctive characters for her to work with. So even though she made a far better movie by all technical standards, she lost the competition.

What do I know. I’ve made two plot-heavy indie feature films with distinctly memorable characters, neither of which has made back its production money.


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