Competition heats up as three local directors rise to PGL’s Top 50 list

Project Greenlight entrant Scott Smith’s stomach was tied up in knots all day April 27, the day 250 PGL contestants would be notified of whether they made the cut to the next level of 50 competitors for a shot at directing a $1 million movie.

“I went to my computer throughout the day checking the Project Greenlight site, but nothing,” said the advertising art director. “Finally I hit the refresh button and up popped the e-mail I’d been hoping for.”

Scott Smith

An elated Smith, producer/director Bryan Perraud and technical consultant Duane Edwards were three of the five Chicago PGL entrants who won over 200 hopefuls in the 2004 Project Greenlight.

The other two were architect Rus Blemker and production designer Brian Craft, whose films also put them in the 250 selectees, out of 1,700 national entries.

Only Perraud is a professional filmmaker. He works for Natural Golf Systems, a full-service golf provider, producing commercials, infomercials and training films. Edwards has made four award-winning shorts and Smith, a former Leo Burnett art director, has just begun to direct commercials for clients of his Bare creative boutique.

Bryan Perraud

For the 50 to rank among the Top Ten, they now must direct a scene based on three pages of PGL- provided dialogue. Judged on their approach to this assignment, 10 directors will be designated May 12, when they will be given another assignment to complete by June 4. Three finalists will be named June 12.

The winner — proclaimed on July 14 — then directs a horror/thriller screenplay (winner of a separate PGL contest) for a $1 million budget. A Project Greenlight series to air over Bravo will document the director’s adventure.

Competing to survive to the 50 mark, the aspiring directors made a Filmmakers’ Video, or bio, that described themselves in visual terms. PGL judges ranked the bio alongside the scenes they submitted as their original entries.

Duane Edwards

Smith talks about himself in an undetermined location that reveals he’s at Oak Street Beach next to a sand sculpture that says “choose me.” Perraud’s bio was based on an elevator sequence in which each floor stop represents a milestone age in his life. Business executive Edwards had a PGL-like crew follow him throughout his day.

Reach Scott Smith at 773/991-1394; Brian Perraud, 312/335-1865 and Duane Edwards, 312/474-5583.

Aside: PGL contestant Rus Blemker’s film, “Ante Meridian,” will screen May 4 at Chicago Community Cinema.