Online show Click on This aims to promote—and advocate for—the region’s dwindling film industry
Published: March 9, 2011
Baltimoreans are as guilty as anyone else of late-night web surfing, and usually these online exploits do not turn up simple and practical advice. But Click on This (clickonthisshow.com) is a suggestion, and a web site, that Charm City residents can consider following. Born out of a desire to meld local and national news in a “lifestyle” web show, the project, now in its second year, is covering new ground.
“I didn’t want to lose the spirit of filmmaking,” Click on This creator and film crew veteran Elena Moscatt says. “I noticed that there doesn’t seem to be that much media in Maryland. We do a lot of local stuff in Baltimore and we’re also trying to go national as well.”
Moscatt founded Click on This after a few years of slow work for Maryland’s actors and craft service workers. She produces and directs the show with an all-local cast and crew, and though its coverage ranges from interviewing local bands to chronicling the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, the series is grappling with the realities of Baltimore’s depressed entertainment industry.
In many ways Baltimore’s arts community has flourished in the past five years, but as tax incentives for producers have decreased in the state budget, movies and television shows that might once have been shot in Maryland have settled in other regions. This drop-off has been crippling to those who were previously involved in projects from John Waters movies to HBO’s The Wire. Moscatt notes that steady jobs and reliable salaries have dried up.
“Baltimore obviously has a No. 1 issue, which is tax incentives,” says Click on This host and actor Johnny Alonso. “Maryland is little America. It’s gonna take someone with a lot of guts, though, to say, ‘Well, there are no tax breaks, but I love the look here.’ Once again Baltimore has become a whistle stop, which really sucks.”
Baltimore’s music scene and unusual local events have kept the series busy with segments on everything from the reality show Good Fellas of Baltimore to Charm City’s Lingerie Football League team. But the show’s ultimate direction seems unclear, because it will largely depend on Baltimore’s film and television recovery. In the meantime, Moscatt says Click on This is revamping its web site and shopping for national bookings. “If we had competitive incentives then we would have the work here,” she says.
As a Baltimore news outlet, Click on This showcases local talent that might have, at one time, been overshadowed by bigger names. Crystal Milana, an actress who has been a host of Click on This from the start, says young local artists are working hard and producing more than ever. “They inspire me more because they’re really trying,” she says. “You see so much want in them.”
Sabrina Taylor-Smith, the show’s other longtime host, cites the enthusiasm and diversity of the Click on This hosts as another contributor to the show’s appeal, and host Al Sotto (of WMBC’s “Below the Belt”) agrees. “Baltimore is Charm City and it’s known for charming people,” he says. “And that’s sort of descriptive of our hosts. Our interviews tend to be more casual. They’re not uptight.”
Recently, the site has expanded to include reporting on technology, dining, fitness, and fashion, but these sections are still smaller than the arts and entertainment coverage. Led by Moscatt, the cast is currently reconciling the show’s limited funding with its desire to grow and improve. But cameraman Jason Koch feels that, even as is, the show can compete with similar web sites and other news sources. “You have national outlets where you can get this information, but not so much specific to the city,” he says. “Anytime something bigger comes into town, and with everyone having their roots in Baltimore, it’s not like a New York or Philly web show coming to Baltimore. It’s Baltimore people so we know the town, we know the actual flow of the city.”
Hometown pride and a desire to rebuild an industry are two motivators that clearly underlie the show—in fact, the show’s identity and purpose is entirely, completely, 100 percent centered on its Baltimore-ness. And the city’s low profile seems to have provided one unexpected perk for the cast. “They might not remember my name but they’ll say, ‘Get that Baltimore guy back here,’” Alonso says. “Things are really going to start happening for Click on This. We’re proud of this city. These people are all Baltimoreans and we have no problem saying it on camera.”