published Thursday, February 27th, 2014

'Jewvangelist': Caroline Mescon is chasing the dream in Hollywood

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    Caroline Mescon spent last year as an NBC page in Los Angeles. She was assistant director of “Jewvangelist,” a seven-episode, made-for-the-web series.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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    Mrs. and Pastor Lovejoy in the online web series “Jewvangelist.”
    Photo by Photo: Aaron Hall

About the series

“Jewvangelist” was created by Becky Kramer, who also wrote and stars in the seven-episode web series. (Kramer was born in Atlanta, raised in St. Petersburg, Fla., and attended Emory University. She has appeared in small parts on “The Gilmore Girls” and “The Eric André Show.” )

It’s a comedy about a struggling, young-ish rabbi who is trying to save her family’s synagogue by recruiting new members through evangelism. She enlists a quirky group of people to help with her new mission.

“It is based on a rabbi, but it’s about people finding their faith,” says producer Kaitlin Walsh.

It’s a sweet, friendly show that almost anyone of any faith should find appealing, she says.

“Of course, it is a comedy, but there is a difference between tongue-in-cheek and pushing people’s buttons.”

The first three episodes are available online at jewvangelist.com with the remaining four released each Wednesday. The final episode is essentially a highlight reel.

The series was shot with little or no budget, with all the cast and crew working on the project for free. In many cases, crew members were doing jobs on the series that were different from what they do professionally. To further cut costs, the crew did things like create a promotional video for a synagogue in trade for being allowed to use the facility as a set location.

When we think of someone making it in Hollywood, we usually assume they became a movie or television star. There are, however, as many ways to be successful in Tinseltown as there are ways to “make it.”

Caroline Mescon, daughter of Jed and Phyllis Mescon of Chattanooga, hasn’t made it yet, but she’s having a go at it. She wants to work in the movie and television industry, but she wants to work behind the camera rather than in front of it like her dad does at WRCB-TV 3, where he is an on-air personality, including morning show host.

For the last year, she has been a page at NBC and, through connections she made there, she worked as an assistant director on an seven-episode made-for-the-web series called “Jewvangelist.” Being a page is a paid position that puts participants through a variety of jobs. One of 80 out of 15,000 applicants chosen for the position, Mescon, 23, did everything from answer phones to work on budgets to work in marketing and distribution.

“You learn everything,” she says.

One thing she learned is that working in a corporate setting was not for her.

“I found that the only part I cared about was when we were actually shooting,” she says. “I want to be a line producer.”

A line producer works on one film or TV program at a time and is in charge of managing the logistics of the daily operations that keep a set and the cast and crew organized and moving forward. These chores can include keeping up with budgets and paperwork to hiring crew and scouting for locations.

“It’s a big problem-solving job, and I love it.”

Being an assistant director, which she was on “Jewvangelist,” is very similar, but focuses more on the logistics of filming, making sure the sets and crew for the next shot are in place so things move smoothly.

“The AD makes sure things run on time, the actors are in makeup and in the costume,” Mescon says.

She took on the job after a fellow NBC page asked if she’d be interested. The series’ producer, Kaitlin Walsh, says Mescon perfectly embodied the ultimate goal of the series.

“Everyone is a volunteer on the show,” she says. “The goal is to draw attention to their talent. We desperately needed an AD. She had never done it, but said she wanted to do that job and, with little experience under her belt, came on and rocked it. She was with us for four days and grew so much in that time.”

“Working on a project like ‘Jewvangelist’ connects her with other interesting, creative individuals and has given her an opportunity to be a part of a finished production,” says Jed Mescon.

Hollywood is a who-you-know kind of town and Walsh, who works in network and television development to pay the bills, says the goal of “Jewvangelist” is three-fold. First, it’s a funny concept that deserved to be made. Second, it’s a chance for cast and crew to stretch themselves; and third, it’s a chance to showcase their work.

“The reason Caroline is a great example of what the show is about is that she came and played a new role. The other half is that, once people see it and see the high quality of the show, hopefully they’ll want to seek out the people involved because everything went so smoothly.”

Mescon calls the four-day experience educational.

“The amazing thing is they did this for like $5,000. Everyone worked on it for free, and we made a pretty good-looking show. They are all smart people who know what they are doing.”

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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