A fictional character named JG cuts a rug on the crowded dance floor at The Rumba Room, Downtown Memphis’ Latin-flavored nightclub. He savors mojitos and surveys the floor for salsa partners.
One giveaway that he’s not a regular patron is the microphone he carries with a label attached to it that reads “Get Down.” JG – whose alter-ego is Memphis actor Brett Magdovitz – is part of a Web-based production called “Get Down” that’s launching Thursday at noon on www.livefrommemphis.com and www.downtownmemphis.com.
Comprised of 10 roughly four-minute “webisodes,” the project is by volunteer arts group Live From Memphis in partnership with the Center City Commission. As its name suggests, the series will showcase a smorgasbord of what Downtown has to offer while unfolding around the antics of the series’ fictional characters.
It’s promoted on Live From Memphis’ Web site with the tagline: “No fluff, just fun on the bluff.” Webisodes will be available for viewing Thursdays at noon.
To a monitor near you
The concept is not unlike what Comedy Central’s popular faux news program “The Daily Show” pulls off each night, where members of a fictional news team satirize the business with their unique spins on covering real news.
“We hired Live From Memphis to create a series of viral webisodes, but we really wanted it to be more than a documentary,” said Leslie Gower, vice president of marketing and communications for the CCC. “We wanted it to be funny and bizarre and crazy enough that people wanted to send it around to other people.
“The concept was to have a variety show, with these two characters using Downtown as sort of their playground. So you see them shopping, partying and doing all sorts of different things Downtown.”
The Live From Memphis producers met with representatives of the CCC last month and pitched the idea. After getting a thumbs-up from the Downtown agency, shooting on “Get Down” began during the last week of August and stretched into the first few weeks of this month.
‘Playful and fun’
Magdovitz and John Pickle are the Memphis actors tapped to bring the series to life.
“Chris Reyes and myself came up with this concept to do a variety show,” said local filmmaker Sarah Fleming, referring to Live From Memphis’ founder.
She and Reyes co-produced “Get Down.”
“It’s kind of like the way ‘The Ali G Show’ and ‘The Daily Show’ touch on stuff that’s cool and happening, and at the same time it’s very playful and fun,” Fleming said. “There’s not really a plot. Nothing is scripted. Basically we took some professional actors here in town, worked with them to develop characters and then took those characters and put them in real situations.”
After tomorrow, a new episode of the show will be posted every Thursday for the next nine weeks. One of those goals, besides promoting Downtown’s unique atmosphere and culture, is for the episodes to be memorable enough for viewers to want to share them with friends.
“That’s one of the reasons we decided to go a comedic route,” Fleming said. “Those things are more likely to get shared.”
The production represents a further push into social and new media outlets by the CCC, which already interacts with people and promotes events through tools such as the Internet networking sites Twitter and Facebook.
“We are looking at new ways of communicating with our market,” Gower said. “So we sort of gave (the Live From Memphis team) a loose framework of what we were looking for, and they came up with a concept that we loved.”...