The joke is told with a half-smile, from a telltale Beacon’s Closet wardrobe, to the ever-present boom mic and bad lighting, to the skilled camerawork and split-screen over-emotion.  There’s the narcissistic prima donna for a band-leader, a contract-lawyer engaged to a girl who could have “fallen in love with any lawyer,” a so-far-mute female drummer, a nerdy manager, and a dreamy bassist banging the groupie-cum-singer.

I smell Pabst Blue Ribbon and drama.

The All-For-Nots is a documentary about a band.  It’s “Spinal Tap meets the Monkees for the Facebook generation.”  The band is “fake, but it’s comprised of real artists, with original songs, with fake names and personalities, who play real shows.”  Pretty good idea for a web series.

###The All-For-Nots is ironic, if obviously so, and it is serious, respectable storytelling…if a bit overplayed.  With financial backing and expertise from Michael Eisner’s Vuguru, the show rests on the staggering talents of Dinosaur Diorama‘s founders and series co-creators Kathleen Grace and Thom Woodley.  The duo knows a thing or two about internet video and the hipster lifestyle. After creating The Burg, a popular web series based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a web series about an indie band seemed like a logical progression. Grace wrote and directed the new show.  Woodley wrote and acted and created all the music.

Its characters are highly stylized, which I dislike in comedy. I want to believe it, like I do in The Office, and I’m not sure I do.  Maybe I will; maybe it’s too soon to say.  Maybe I’m just too familiar with hipster stereotypes to fully appreciate the style; after all, I work with a Williamsburg hipster (though he won’t admit it).  I mysef am a Blackberry-wielding frustrated artist.  Either way, it felt a touch too close to the mark.  Some lines are better left unsaid — I’m left hungry for a bit more subtext.  That’s the extent of my criticism.

Overall, I’m really impressed with this work.  It’s filmmaking on the web!  It’s interesting camerawork.  It’s polished editing.  It’s a funny, character-driven story with the beginnings of an interesting arc. It isn’t I-just-finished-film-school-and-I’m-on-the-web-cuz-I’m-not-ready-for-TV-or-film, even if it actually is. This is respectable and interesting work for any distribution outlet.

The All-For-Notscast and crew, whom Josh recently interviewed – and the business team behind it – are breaking creative ground.

The whole concept uses new tools and services to engage on every imaginable medium.   You can watch online, on mobile (Verizon V CAST) and cable/satellite (HDNet). And you can interact with the band on Bebo.  It’s a 3-part weekly episode – the later two feel like DVD-extras, which works well. I recently had the pleasure of catching these catchy tunes at The All-For-Nots launch party at SXSW.

Here’s my question: Do the economics of this production work?  This was expensive.  Look at the credits!  Talk about a hits-driven model.  But with all these distribution outlets, maybe it will see the eyeballs it needs.  It should.  It’s good.  No irony in that.

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