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  • Feature: INST MSGS

    Fri, 08 Jan 2010 11:39:47

    Feature: <i>INST MSGS</i> - <i>INST MSGS</i> creator and director Justin Simien talks to ARTISTdirect.com editor and <i>Dolor</i> author Rick Florino about the web show and why our online interactions are so damn funny...

    These days we take the web, Facebook, Twitter, IM conversations and our PDA's way too seriously. However, there's something inherently hilarious about the way we communicate via these technological "advancements." Web show Inst Msgs explores those communication follies masterfully through hilarious re-enactments of Craigslist posts, IM chats and so much more. The show is smart, savvy and so delightfully fun to watch. Most importantly though, it points out that it's all just technology and worth a good laugh.

    The show's also garnering serious attention. Notable guest stars include Dileep Rao (Avatar, Drag Me to Hell), YouTube sensation Liam Kyle Sullivan and most recently Abbie Spencer (Mad Men). Plus, it's distributed by Revision3.com. The show gains more and more steam across iTunes, YouTube and Revision3's parner sites daily!

    Creator and director Justin Simien spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about Inst Msgs in this exclusive interview. Watch the show here!

    Where did the initial idea for Inst Msgs come from?

    A co-worker sent me a juicy IM conversation they’d had with an ex. It was so completely engrossing, and it just struck me that the most interesting stories are the ones we send each other every day. Not to mention I was obsessed with "Missed Connections" on Craigslist. Who were these people searching for someone to “rub their legs” or buy their “used toilet bowl brushes?” (actual ads).

    I had always saved notable instant message conversations (there was just something about the really good ones) and started soliciting friends for theirs as well as interesting internet posts. I took the idea and a couple treatments to a friend Ann Le, who ended up producing the show after bringing on board Mathieu Young (our DP and one of the developers) to make the Pilot episode.

    In addition to making people laugh, did you want to reflect how diluted and strange our language becomes online?

    So many things that are perfectly acceptable online (from the we communicate in IM conversations and tweets to the way we sell ourselves in dating and classified ads) are completely absurd if actually used in everyday, face to face conversations. It’s a web show, so comedy is definitely an important component – but ultimately I do see it as a way of commenting on the way we communicate.

    How do you balance the different styles of humor--there's a lot of clever quips and then the more visual in-your-face moments?

    We always saw the show as a kind of variety show, playing with different genres, aesthetics, and material. Ann Le and Mathieu Young (the show's developing producers) and a small group of contributing writers (Angel Lopez, Russ Tamashiro and Ryan Wordell) bring lots of different points of views to the table. They’ve come up with things that never would've occurred to me. For our "Secret Tweets" episode, we'd collected all of these sad but kind of funny anonymous tweets from SecretTweet.com and suddenly Ann said, "What if we did it with animals?" And so the tweets became voiceovers to footage we shot at the zoo. It ended up being somewhat funny, but also sad and kind of meaningful. It's probably my favorite episode.

    What do you ultimately hope to do with Inst Msgs?

    I think what’s cool about INST MSGS is that it's a web show made from and for the web. It's not a cut-up version of a TV show, it's unique to the net. I’d like to keep building the audience and making a show that people connect with, contribute to, and get something out of.

    How crucial is music to the show?

    Music is incredibly crucial to the tone of the show. We rotate the title song with music from a variety of new artists. One of our absolute favorites is the Los Angeles based band Globes on Remote. (Get their album, available in January on Itunes!)

    Make sure to nominate Inst Msgs for a Streamy award here! They're up for "Best Experimental" and deserve it!

    Watch the latest episode here!

    Rick Florino

    Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here

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