Margo Neely: New Media Queen

(By Amanda Korman, Reprinted from The Berkshire Eagle)

Out of hastily shot videos posted on YouTube, ordinary people have scored their 15 minutes of fame. But on a media platform where meowing kittens eating their lunch can grab millions of views and instant celebrity, you might wonder if thoughtful artistry and the Internet were ever meant to be together.

Enter Margo Neely.

In the Berkshires, Neely is carving out a new media form that harnesses the possibilities of streaming media to create television-esque narratives that are smart and highly stylized, but also fun and full of mayhem.

“In new media, I feel like no one has really made an honest effort to do this yet, and I’m hoping to be the first,” Neely said. “The goal is to prove that this is the new television: high-quality, uncensored work that doesn’t necessarily fit in the lineup of a traditional network”

Ms. Neely, along with her husband Matt, an actor appearing in the Barrington Stage’s Company’s current production of “The Crucible,” aims to create broadcast-quality content that debuts online and that can be streamed for viewing on a television or a computer.

Her current project is “Ladies Revenge Club,” a 10-episode series that takes its inspiration from sexploitation films of the ’60s. Part Quentin Tarantino, part “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the series is a thoughtful commentary on gender and performance that is at the same time an entertaining, dynamic romp.

Neely’s aesthetic is at once retro and modern. “Ladies Revenge Club” was shot in HD, but uses the over- saturated Technicolor that is characteristic of the ’60s. In the editing, Neely adds a grain to the footage so that it looks like a film dug up from decades ago.

Collaborating with members of  NYC’s experimental Off-Broadway Axis Theater Company, she designed, wrote, produced and is now editing the show, which is set to debut online.

The venture is a massive one, and Neely’s work ethic is what enables her to stomp through this new territory, not quite knowing when the brambles will clear. “For an undertaking where you’re bringing together all this media in a unique, original fashion, you’re constantly having to return to the drawing board. You’re also forging a new path, and it’s really hard,” Neely said. “The only thing you have is the work and the ability to work. I love it. It’s painful, it’s tiring, but if it gets me closer to the goal, then I’ll do it.”

The work she refers to is not only to the show itself, but also to the way it is packaged as a website. Neely is a stylist of the Internet, where she meticulously designs every inch of screen space to be visually and aurally interactive and new. Each page contains nested links that dive a viewer into hidden images, sounds and videos that elucidate the whimsical world of the project.

For Neely, the Internet is a new home for independent creativity of all kinds – the perfect antidote for content that is too mainstream, too traditional or too limited.

“I was a creative force,” she said, “but because I didn’t have money, I had do everything myself. I’m entirely self taught.” To get ahead in a very competitive world, she said: “You can either listen to those people who say, ‘I’m gonna keep you out,’ or you can say ‘You can keep me out, but I’m still doing my project. I’ll find a way to do it.’ And that took me a little while to learn.”

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