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Arts and Entertainment Friday, Nov. 4, 2016 1 year ago

Justin and Christian Long film web series in Sarasota

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The brothers' new series, 'The Real Stephen Blatt,' explores the pitfalls of internet fame.
by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

Everyone wants his 15 minutes of fame. And in the age of ever-advancing social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram and Vine, the elusive goal is within closer reach. And it’s probably more like 15 seconds.

This shifting landscape in the world of celebrity caught the attention of actor, writer and director Justin Long and his brother Christian, who recently tackled the subject in an eight-episode web series they filmed in Sarasota, called “The Real Stephen Blatt.”

Justin and Christian wrote the series, which Justin directed and acted in, in partnership Ringling College Studio Lab and Semkhor Productions, following a visit to the college last year.

The web series, a satirical dark comedy, follows a teenager named Stephen Blatt (Justin Long) through his misguided pursuit of social-media stardom.

Cinematographer Nick Morgulis, writer Christian Long, actor Harry Anand and writer/director/actor Justin Long discuss a prank scene. Courtesy photo.

“It’s hugely popular,’ says Justin Long of internet fame. “There’s even a term for these people now: influencers. They’ve tapped into something that people really seem to want. Now, they’re being used by brands and marketing companies to sell products. The more you go down these Instagram holes, the more terrifying and revealing it is. We were fascinated by that world.”

Justin Long plays Blatt, a decision Christian says was critical in conveying the proper tone.

“Because this world can be so troubling, we wanted to establish the satire right away,” he says. “That would be the consistent comedic through line.”

Christian and Justin Long visited Ringling College last year to discuss plans for the project.

“It’s about a kid who is corrupted by his desire for fame,” adds Justin Long. “If the parody wasn’t clear with my casting, some of these moments are so dark and tragic, you would never know we were filming a comedy.”

The shoot incorporated Ringling College students and alumni, who worked on the project as actors and crew members. The episodes will go into post-production before debuting online.

“Even though these are all students or recent graduates, mostly in their 20s, I was impressed with how professional they were,”  says Justin Long. “I would put them on par with any of the biggest Hollywood movies I’ve done. You learn from them in a lot of ways.”

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