Justin and Christian Long produced the series last year in partnership with Ringling College and Semkhor Productions.
In an age when someone can be described as "Instagram famous" without a shred of irony, the creation of a series like "The Real Stephen Blatt" comes as no surprise.
The web-based Funny Or Die series, filmed in Sarasota last year by Justin and Christian Long in partnership with Ringling College and Semkhor Productions, takes a dark comedic tone in its parody of the phenomenon.
Monday, July 24, the series premiered on Amazon Prime Video, where it's streaming exclusively in its entirety.
The eight-episode series stars actor, writer and director Justin Long as the titular Stephen Blatt — a teenager obsessed with becoming a social-media star. The comedy follows his misguided quest for stardom through mini-episodes that center around a mock television interview with the technology-obsessed Blatt.
Justin Long and his brother Christian Long wrote the Sarasota-filmed series, which Justin directed and acted in, following a visit to Ringling College in 2015. The shoot incorporated Ringling College students and alumni, who worked on the project as actors and crew members.
Justin Long says he was fascinated and disturbed by the idea of social media influencers being used to brand and sell products, and he decided parody would be the best way to explore the topic.
“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. It’s about a kid who is corrupted by his desire for fame. 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.”