Dan Myrick — director and co-creator of the independent film hit The Blair Witch Project — has launched a new experimental series based on and filmed exclusively in Venice.
The Strand is a show that takes an uncensored look at the lives of several offbeat characters who inhabit Venice.
The first of three filmed episodes was aired Tuesday, March 15th. But the premiere was not on Fox, NBC, or MTV; it was Webcast — aired only on the World Wide Web.
Before the first episode — or as Myrick calls it, “webisode” — aired, he says The Strand Web site was receiving about 1,000 hits a day.
“After the first webisode, we’re getting 15,000 hits a day,” Myrick said.
Myrick says that The Strand is a cross between a reality show and a documentary.
With a low production budget and small crew, Myrick says that The Strand “maintains a sense of authenticity that cannot be found in large-scale productions.”
Actors apply their own makeup on the set, “We don’t have a makeup artist,” said Myrick.
The script “is loosely based on some real characters in Venice,” says Myrick.
Other characters in The Strand are completely fictional, not based on real characters of Venice.
The webisodes feature Method film techniques, where actors remain in character for extended periods of time, even between and after scenes.
Myrick says that this is not too difficult for some of the actors of the series because some of the characters were specifically written for and are very similar to actors of The Strand.
The series features roles given to locals of Venice. One street performer was given a role that doesn’t stray from what he does daily on the boardwalk — play his bongos.
Myrick says that in order to help The Strand to continue financially, $200,000 needs to be made for each webisode.
“I am confident that we can meet that, but we’ll have to wait and see,” he says.
The premiere webisode of the series was free, but subsequent webisodes will cost 99 cents, according to Myrick.
The Strand incorporates BitPass digital payments technology in which filmmakers can utilize the internet for distribution while protecting their content with technology that manages licences, payments and promotions of the digital content.
“BitPass enables independent production companies like us to make a show for the people, by the people, where production is sponsored by people who watch it, leaving its destiny in the hands of those who care most about its future,” said Myrick.
The diverse mix of people that inhabit Venice in reality is accurately portrayed in the fictional world of The Strand.
Characters depicted in the series include teenage skaters; aspiring writers, actors and actresses; a street performing magician; an elderly widow; a South American immigrant; and an LAPD officer.
The Strand’s executive producer, Richard Halpern, plays the magician character.
Myrick says that he has a general filming permit to film The Strand throughout Venice, so scenes take place along the canals, on the boardwalk, at several local businesses, and just about everywhere else in Venice.
He says that The Strand was originally pitched to several networks, which opted not to pick up the pilot series.
“I was almost wishing that it wouldn’t get picked up by the networks,” says Myrick.
The advertisers dictate what the content of your series is, he says.
By offering The Strand on the Web, Myrick says he does not have to compromise the creativity of the series and is not censored in regard to what scenes he can and can not use.
In the first webisode, there are several scenes in which characters smoke marijuana, scenes of nudity, and several dialogues utilizing profanity.
“There is no compromise between commerce and creativity,” he says.
“We are making this available to anyone in the world that is connected to the Internet,” says Myrick. “That is exciting.”
Myrick is excited about having viewers of The Strand becoming influential in the direction of the series.
He suggests that there may be a webisode down the line that is based on a story line submitted by a viewer.
“We may very well decide to shoot an episode based on viewers’ ideas,” he says, where a level of interactivity between the viewer and story line would occur, and viewers would decide what happens next in the series by monitoring the Web site’s discussion board.
Myrick says that one of the reasons he decided to go forth with this project is not only to make an appealing, real series, but also to help expose Venice to the world.
He says that part of what Venice has been, “a place where people who don’t fit in, fit in” is being erased.
Myrick disagrees with the Venice Boardwalk permit system and lottery for artists/ performers on the west side of Ocean Front Walk.
“That lottery is totally absurd,” he said. “If this (The Strand) can help expose what Venice is to a global audience, maybe in a small way it will help.”
To view a webisode or for more information, http://www.strandvenice.com