By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer
The comedy web series “Small Town America”, which debuted this summer, features West Virginia locales and actors. The people and their predicaments, though, could reflect any of those from almost any small town, especially any in Appalachia.
The series most specifically does have a West Virginia flavor. No wonder there. Creator, director, writer and actor Scott A. Martin, who plays lead character “Dallas”, is a native West Virginia filmmaker and actor who was born in Princeton and attended high school in Athens, W.Va. He shot the series’ opening 13 episodes in those towns and in Hinton. He uses his native Athens as the setting for the series – where his character Dallas and his friends live.
So Martin, whose acting credits include parts in “Black List” and “Unstoppable”, uses his Appalachian geographical, social and cultural roots to create the roughly 10-minute episodes of comedy and drama in the lives of the characters – many portrayed by West Virginians.
Including Martin, another West Virginia actor, who plays Dallas’ friend and roommate Roo, is Fairmont/Clarksburg-based actor Greg Mason.
Mason describes his character Roo as Dallas’ “goofy friend but good guy who is a retired semi-pro wrestler of the ‘70s.” And he says Dallas’ character, a guy who dumpster dives to retrieve items to sell or give away, is “a good guy just trying to help people.”
Dallas narrates the beginning of the episodes by expressing his feelings about living in a small town:
“I lived in the big city a couple years, and everyone was a stranger. So I moved back home to be close to family and friends. There’s something very comforting about knowing the people you pass on the street. On these streets, there are no strangers. On these streets, they call themselves neighbors. These little towns are all over America, and they have one thing in common … the people. The people are what makes the towns. Welcome to Small Town America.”
Mason reports the premise of the series has been based on Dallas’ ineffective attempts masterminded by Roo to gain reporter Natalie’s affection.
Mason explains that Roo “is always trying to fix Dallas up with this woman, Natalie, who moves to town to be a reporter.” Natalie is played by Michelle Lamelza.
Mason said Natalie was having a difficult time finding news stories her boss expected of her, because the news opportunities in the small town were lacking.
In an effort to help Natalie land that big story AND help Dallas “get the girl”,Roo concocts a plan to fake a Big Foot sighting with the help of his former wrestling buddies. Natalie can then get an exclusive to please her boss.
“Dallas is always telling Roo, ‘This is a bad idea,’” Mason said of his character’s zany ideas to help Dallas. “They always get fumbled up and go awry.”
Mason said that while the series is great fun for grown-ups, he cautions parents that the content is not for kids. “The series is definitely for adult audiences,” he stated.
The series is quite entertaining, Mason reiterated. “I think it’s a good comedy to make people laugh,” he said. “But it’s not about [cruelly] poking fun at any one person. It’s just meant to be funny.”
The tag line for the series is: “Not laughing at Appalachia…laughing INSIDE Appalachia.”
Mason, who has played serial killers in independent films such as “Hunt” and “Of the Flesh”, says he’s enjoying his acting career taking a more comedic turn.
“It’s been real fun for me,” he exclaimed. “It’s been a real ball.”
Another area resident, Scott Legg of Morgantown, got to play as an extra and as a disgruntled co-worker of Natalie.
“Martin tries to put in local people,”Mason stated, adding that his own girlfriend-Harrison County native Deborah Bennett – got a speaking part in an episode.
Martin says he uses both professional and non-actors. He also features bands and musicians connected to West Virginia.
Another main character, Brian, is played by Alan McClintock, who hails from Ohio, which “almost” makes him a West Virginian.
“Small Town America” episodes are released on Sundays. The free downloads can be found at https://vimeopro.com/user34217986/small-town-america.
For more information about the series, visit on Facebook at “Small TOWN America.”