Queens filmmaker co-creates first ‘TV series’ made exclusively for Instagram


| ctumola@queenscourier.com |

Photos courtesy of “Artistically Challenged”
Photos courtesy of “Artistically Challenged”

An episode from the Instagram series “Artistically Challenged” was filmed at an Astoria dentist office of a family friend of co-creator Aleks Arcabascio.

A Queens man and his fellow filmmakers are hoping their “TV series” is an Insta-nt hit.

Artistically Challenged,” the first “TV series” written, directed, shot and formatted specifically for Instagram, launched on July 1, with seven episodes. Rego Park resident Aleks Arcabascio, and co-producers and co-writers Samuel Delmara and Jeremy Boros, are releasing an episode each day until the end of the month, when all 32 videos will be available on the photo sharing app.

“Instagram is where my friends and family my age spend so much of their time and attention anyway and if that’s where the eyeballs are at, why not make something for them?” Arcabascio said.

The series, shot over two weeks in more than 20 locations throughout New York City, including several in Queens, surrounds the story of Nick Romaine, played by Boros. Romaine is a struggling young artist “who tells a small lie and becomes an overnight celebrity only to find that his success comes with a hefty price.” Among the crazy characters that Romaine meets are powerful players in the New York art world, and the series examines the fine line between art and trash, according to the creators.

One of the biggest challenges for the writing trio was penning the series within Instagram’s 15-second video time limit.

They saw an advantage, however, in the platform’s ability to share content, and tag the entire series with the account name.

“The ultimate compliment is that people are sharing [the show],” Delmara said.

The filmmakers also had to work with a 640-by-640 pixel square screen to fit the smartphone format.

Queens resident Aleks Arcabascio (right) helps set up a shot while directing “Artistically Challenged.”

Arcabascio, who also co-directed “Artistically Challenged” with Delmara, compared the “minimalist storytelling” process to making a silent film.

“A lot of what we knew about film grammar got thrown out the window when we understood the time and space we had to use,” he said.

Filming was made easier by their volunteer crew and others who helped them along the way, including those who lent them spaces to shoot scenes.

One of those locations was Arcabascio’s parents’ Long Island City pizzeria, An Italian Affair, where they filmed episode 2. Episode 21 was shot in the Astoria dentist office of his father’s friend.

His parents also own Redken Saloon Salon in Astoria, and the place was used as a home base when filming the dentist scenes. The salon is also where Arcabascio honed his filmmaking skills. As a young boy he would make flip books out of Post-it pads when he would help sweep hair off the floor for tips on Saturdays.

Arcabascio, who was born in Whitestone and moved to Long Island as a child, turned to animation in middle school and soon discovered video. Shortly after graduating from NYU in 2012, where he studied film and television, he settled in Rego Park. Since that time has kept busy with several production, writing and directing projects, including creating the web series “The Four Thirty in the Morning Show.”

He would like his future filmmaking plans to include another season of “Artistically Challenged.”
Arcabascio also hopes their endeavor will inspire similar Instagram creations.

“The limits are pretty concrete, but the possibilities are endless,” he said. “I can’t wait to see where it goes and I’m glad we’re a part of that.”

Episodes of “Artistically Challenged” can be viewed on Instagram at @actheseries.

 

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