Ben Berman, director of The Amazing Jonathan Documentary and several episodes of your favorite comedy series, is looking for some advice. He’s feeling washed up, he doesn’t have any ideas, and, like many of us, he’s growing increasingly worried about the current pandemic. Naturally (or not), his first instinct when looking for some guidance is to reach out to celebrities on the Cameo platform, like Home Improvement’s Richard Karn, Jon Lovitz, Mark McGrath, and Lindsay Lohan. The results are on display in his latest short, The Follow-Up, which premiered this week on Vimeo.
For those unfamiliar, Cameo is a service where users can pay artists, social media stars, and random weirdos of varying levels of fame to record personalized video messages for them. These messages can either be pre-written or totally off the cuff. They can also, in McGrath’s case, be used to break up with your long-distance boyfriend.
“I don’t want to use the term ‘washed up,’ but Cameo mainly exists of talent of a certain era,” Berman tells IndieWire in a recent interview about the short. “So for me, Ben, who feels washed up in his career—I mean, sure, I did one doc, I’m proud of it, but it’s what do you got now—for me to feel washed up and to reach out to a Richard Karn, who used to be a big deal on a sitcom, but now who knows what he’s doing, was funny to me.”
Written and recorded completely in quarantine, the short offers a beautiful and hilarious exploration of loneliness in the digital age. It’s also a great example of how to utilize what limited resources you have at your disposal. Berman couldn’t exactly get a crew together or shoot anything on location right now, so the entire film is comprised of video captured on his computer screen.
“I got the sense, especially over the last two days, that both the commercial industry and the TV industry, people, instead of just waiting, it’s become, ‘What can we do now? What can we use now to continue our path forward?’” Berman says. “I would like to think that what The Follow-Up shows is there are ways to tell stories with what we have in front of us.”
You can read his full interview with IndieWire here.
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