“It all came from a level of trust that the cast had with us to tell their story,” said Kevin Bartel, an executive producer on Netflix’s upcoming reality series “Westside,” during a panel discussion moderated by executive music editor Shirley Halperin at Variety’s Music for Screens Summit, held Tuesday at NeueHouse in Hollywood.
The eight-episode series includes a total of 20 fully-produced music videos in which cast members sing music written for them, about their own personal struggles.
“We knew we wanted to be in the docu-series genre,” said Jenn Levy of Netflix. “They came in and said, ‘We wanna tell the story of what it takes young people in Los Angeles trying to pursue their dreams. Oh, and we’re going to elevate that storytelling with original music,’” she recalls of the original pitch meeting. “We’d never heard that before.”
The nine-person cast, made up of young musicians seeking to make it big in the music industry, was chosen in unconventional ways, sometimes by word of mouth. Cast member Alexandra Kay was scouted when an Uber driver picking up Bartel passed him her mixtape.
“There’s a large community of people in L.A. obviously wanting a break, wanting an opportunity. And we gave them that opportunity on the show,” said executive producer Michael Flutie.
“Westside” streams on Netflix beginning on Nov. 9.