Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 26 August 2011 00:00
Before they graduated from Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School in 2008, the trio of Jason Bader, Jason Blackman and Brett Meiselas accomplished something impressive: they convinced their teachers to let them hand in movies in lieu of traditional school assignments. Not only that, but the aspiring filmmakers garnered a reputation for quality at the same time; according to Meiselas, 60-70 people would show up at the end-of-year project presentations just to see the team’s newest film.
On Aug. 11, continuing the trend, approximately 250 people packed the auditorium of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library to see the group’s newest project, the first episode of the sketch comedy show The Inside Kids, but the team has racked up more impressive numbers yet; on the Internet, the opening clip from The Inside Kids, “Silence Your Cell Phones” now has over 40,000 views.
The clip, which features a disgruntled father silencing a loud cellphone talker at the movies in a rather lethal manner, is a good example of the kind of topical, irreverent humor on display in the pilot. Apparently, more than a few people could relate to the problem with disrespectful cellphone users; soon after being uploaded, the clip went viral, surfacing on popular video blogs and eventually making its way to The Huffington Post.
Naturally, that kind of exposure led to the other promotional material for the show—the other sketches—racking up views all over the world.
“We received a huge response from countries as far reaching as Israel, Finland, Australia—so it’s pretty cool,” said Meiselas, who crafted the group’s social media strategy. Going viral was always part of the plan, however delighting viewers on the Internet is not the ultimate goal; now, the plan is to pitch the show—inspired by comedy classics like Saturday Night Live and Mr. Show—to television networks.
“YouTube isn’t our end-all, obviously. We’ve always set big goals to ourselves,” said Meiselas.
The trio met in high school and realized they all had filmmaking in common as a passion; after graduation, they all went to pursue the craft vocationally. Bader attends Stony Brook, Blackman attends Binghamton, and Meiselas goes to the University of Southern California, where he was voted “Best Producer of a Nightly Broadcast” last year at the school’s own TV station, Trojan Vision. Obviously, all are currently studying film.
Aside from working on projects together with their new production company, Red Felt Productions, the three also have professional credits: Blackman and Meiselas were production assistants on the recently released movie Flypaper, starring Ashley Judd and Patrick Dempsey, while Meiselas also worked on the movie Notorious, a film about the life of the rapper the Notorious B.I.G. Other projects the trio have worked on include Law Abiding Citizen, The Fighter, Hoodie Allen (music video), and the MTV show I Wanna Work for Diddy.
While their ultimate goal is to work together, the filmmakers are realistic about the importance of networking and making connections in their industry, hence all of the professional film projects. Plus, working with the pros is rewarding in and of itself. “It’s a learning experience every time you work in the industry,” said Bader of his professional credits.
Now, the plan is to pitch The Inside Kids to networks, using the popularity of the sketches on the Internet as a springboard. The trio created the pilot this summer, calling in favors to use local venues like Plainview Deli and Stars of Tomorrow in Syosset to shoot sketches like Zoom Automotive, featuring two arrogant filmmakers who pitch inappropriate commercials to executives, and Bat Mitzvah Girl, a parody rock video featuring an original song that the trio wrote, performed and produced themselves (the two Jasons are actually in a band together.) A survey was distributed at the end of the premiere, allowing viewers to pick their favorite and least favorite sketches and help determine the show’s future direction.
While the humor is biting and not for everyone (adult language is used), the group is hoping that the pilot’s combination of insight into the trials of everyday life and irreverence will allow the show to continue to grow its audience from its impressive beginnings as an online phenomenon. The trio says they get their ideas from everyday life, with Bader and Blackman often pitching the ideas while Meiselas helps refine them.
However, if nothing else, the trio of Bader, Blackman and Meiselas is already famous in their hometown; apparently, the films they created as teens are still shown in classes at POBJFK High School, leading to the stars being recognized at times. Whether The Inside Kids finds a home on television or not, if they continue to produce TV pilots and short films with Red Felt Productions, which is the long-term plan, one thing’s for sure: They’re going to be recognized a lot more in the future.
To view clips from The Inside Kids, including the now-infamous Silence Your Cell Phones, visit www.theinsidekids. com; once again, please be advised that the clips contain adult language and situations.