johnnyknoxville

The “early life” section of a Wikipedia biography is often the most fascinating part, a place where you can learn unknown facts about that person’s genesis (e.g. Tommy Lee Jones and Al Gore were college roommates!). Now, the recently formed Electric City Entertainment has given us a web series based entirely around those juicy stories. It’s called Becoming, and its goal is to inform us, via candid interviews, how various celebs got to the place they are today.

The series will run for 24 episodes, each one featuring a different star telling the story of how he or she made it big. The first three episodes – featuring actor Chris Evans, Jackass star Johnny Knoxville, and rapper Wale, respectively – have already been posted, and there are certainly enough of those fascinating little details to keep the show running.

For instance, Jackass began because Johnny Knoxville thought people would want to see him test various home defense materials against his own face. He’s lucky that Jackass hit it big before he got to the shotgun episode.

What really makes Becoming more than just an interview program is the dynamic, narrative use of the camera. Electric City was formed by a production team that made several critically acclaimed indie films, such as the supremely affecting Half Nelson, Blue Valentine, and the upcoming Place Beyond the Pines, which got good buzz at the Toronto Film Festival and has a superb cast.

Electric City’s artistic roots are clear in Becoming. Interviews are conducted not around nondescript wooden tables but instead in active locations like bars and moving vehicles. Carefully composed shots are interspersed in between to add flavor and occasional symbolism.

It all adds up to an audacious attempt to turn the interview program into a viable work of art. Whether or not you think this attempt succeeds, it certainly does well to pique one’s interest in Becoming, which still has 21 rags-to-riches stories yet to come.

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