Friday, March 7, 2014
By DENNIS PERKINS
A few weeks ago, Coast City Comicon organizer Tristan Gallagher had a secret. Asked about a Comicon event titled the "Entertainment Experiment Panel," Gallagher claimed he'd been sworn to secrecy, adding only, "Seriously, this is kind of a big deal."
COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS
FRONTIER CAFE & CINEMA, Brunswick
Thursday to Sunday: "Searching for Sugar Man." Improbable, heartwarming documentary about Detroit musician Sixto Rodriguez, whose short-lived 1970s recording career petered out, leaving him obscure and rumored deceased. Cut to 30 years later, when the discovery that Rodriguez (nicknamed "Sugar Man") has long-been one of the most beloved musicians in South Africa for decades.
NICKELODEON CINEMA, Portland
Friday: "Killing Them Softly." Professionally underrated director Andrew Dominik ("Chopper," "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford") assembles a stellar crime movie cast (Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Sam Shepard and Ray Liotta) for this no-doubt quality thriller. The plot: A professional enforcer is brought in to unravel the mess an amateur card game heist has made of the New Orleans underworld economy.
He wasn't kidding.
Described as "a global network for Maine Web artists," the Entertainment Experiment (entertainmentexperiment.com), a website launched by the creators of the acclaimed Maine webseries "Ragged Isle," aims to become nothing less than the focal point for Maine-made Web content. As "Ragged Isle"/Entertainment Experiment co-creator Barry Dodd puts it, "Our goal is to help legitimize the work of all of these artists by providing an optimum viewing experience" for people seeking original local filmmaking.
The Entertainment Experiment's inaugural class of webseries include "Ragged Isle" (Dodd's "Twin Peaks"-esque supernatural thriller); "No Refund for Content" (about the comedic misadventures of the beleaguered staff of an indie Portland movie theater); "Food Coma TV" (Portland epicurean Joe Ricchio's dinner, drinks and conversation series); "The Spoiler Alert" (a talk show about the best Web offerings hosted by the Entertainment Experiment's own Justin St. Louis); local cooking show "Veg EZ"; "The Cleansed" (a post-apocalyptic audio drama set in Bangor); "Haunt ME" (a reality series about Maine ghost hunters); and "Vacationlanders" (acclaimed futurism about hearty Mainers making do after the government declares the state an "unorganized territory").
It's a varied and impressive lineup of established shows that Dodd hopes "will have a second chance to build viewership" through their appearance on the site.
However, the Entertainment Experiment has bigger hopes for the future. Dodd says it is actively soliciting new Web content from all around the state.
"If it was built to be on the Web and built by Mainers, I want to have it here on the site," he said. "Eventually, we plan to have channel pages -- the comedy channel, the drama channel, music videos, reality programs, short films, even webcomics and podcasts."
It's no secret that the increasing availability of technology has made Maine filmmaking more attainable than ever for aspiring creators. Dodd hopes the opportunity for exposure that the Entertainment Experiment can provide will give artists statewide the incentive to get their vision up and running.
"All these shows have their own take on our state and how to utilize it in their art," said Dodd. "We hope to get a real feel of what people are doing up here in Maine."
Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer.