Take a collection of twentysomethings, mix in love, lust, ambition and music from some of the hottest indie acts, and you’ve got “Rockville, CA.”
The new Web series, from “Gossip Girl” and “The OC” creator Josh Schwartz and the series’ music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas, premieres March 17 on theWB.com.
Set at the fictional Rockville nightclub, the scripted drama stars Andrew West (“Privileged”), Alexandra Chando (“As the World Turns”), Bonnie Burroughs (“Cold Case,” “Eli Stone”) and Ryan Hansen (“Veronica Mars,” “Las Vegas”).
“I spent a lot of my early-to-mid-20s, before ‘The OC,’ at these kinds of clubs,” Schwartz says. “It’s a time when you’re poor and you don’t care. Music matters to you. … I really wanted to capture that (time).” TheWB.com has commissioned 20 episodes, each averaging around four minutes.
“We were given an incredible amount of creative freedom,” Schwartz continues. “There weren’t casting clearances, there were no notes on scripts. It was exciting and scary and fun doing it all on our own. It created a really convivial atmosphere on the set.”
Schwartz declines to give the show’s budget, but admits that “we didn’t have a lot of money; we were calling in a lot of favors.” Cost was one factor in filming at existing club the Echo instead of building a set. The rock club, in Los Angeles’ hipster Echo Park neighborhood, also lends an instant authenticity to the series.
Like the real-life Echo, Rockville features a combo of local and national acts, Patsavas says. “Josh and I really considered the booking policies of some truly excellent local venues,” Patsavas says. “These venues almost always have a backbone of local talent, as well as the national and international touring acts that make a club hum. I approached band selection with this in mind. The bands performed in exchange for a small licensing fee.”
Among the artists booked are Travis, Kaiser Chiefs, the Broken West, Lights, Oppenheimer, the Republic Tigers, the Duke Spirit, Eagles of Death Metal, Earlimart, Frightened Rabbit, the Kooks and Lykke Li.
Patsavas has licensed many of these acts’ songs for other shows she works on, but for “Rockville, CA,” slightly different rules applied.
“In a more traditional music supervision gig, I search for the perfect prerecorded or sometimes custom prerecorded track to enhance the drama in a scene, main title or montage,” she says. “In order to ‘book’ ‘Rockville, CA,’ we thought about great songs but also concentrated on the live component. A compelling and diverse live performance was key.”
Although only 15 to 30 seconds of most performances will be used in each episode, theWB.com will give acts an additional boost on its website by posting each artist’s full two-song set and an interview.
Schwartz admits he doesn’t know what role this convergence of drama, music and the Web plays in the future of entertainment. “I’m sure what we’re doing is not the final thing, but it’s the next evolution out there,” he says. “I don’t know what we’ll finally land at. It’s exciting for the contentmakers; there’s opportunity to experiment.”