“Meridian” stars Orlando Jones (“Drumline,” “MAD TV”) as Jeff, a bored employee at a tech support call center whose life is changed when he discovers a mysterious Aztec amulet. The 3-part series, which can currently be seen on RIDES.tv, is the brainchild of YouTube musician and comedian Joe Penna, better known as MysteryGuitarMan.
Joe, sporting his iconic shades, and his star actor sit down with our host Shira Lazar to give their insights about the inspiration behind the show, how they can engage with fans on completely new levels, and how YouTube is used a prime platform for emerging filmmakers.
As “Meridian” co-writer and director, Penna reveals that the idea for the show came about when he and some good friends were brainstorming awesome superpowers (as we all do). Flying was out the question because it’s been done before, but then they thought about putting a twist on psychic powers. That’s how the character of Jeff emerged. By merely touching things – animate or inanimate – he can glimpse the history of those objects – how they came to be created and the journeys they’ve taken.
The series’ innovative storytelling techniques further extend to the audience through interactive elements. At the start of the series, viewers can plug their phone numbers into the site and receive calls while they watching, providing them with extra audio cues and engaging content.
Somewhat poetically, Joe met Orlando Jones, the man who would become the star of his online series, at a YouTube party. Jones, who had plenty of traditional media experience under his belt, was ready to dive into the new and exciting creative space. Jones recalls, “I kind of wanted to be a part of the people who come from the sort of old school business that are saying, ‘This is really where the business is going.'”
Penna chimes in to affirm, “You can tell a good story anywhere.”
The lesson from today’s live show? “YouTube makes dreams come true.”