Adam Goldberg is best known for memorable roles in films like Saving Private Ryan and the TV sitcom Friends. But since the age of 14 Goldberg has also been a director, crafting features, music videos and experimental films that pushed the traditional use of sound, editing and imagery to its limits. And with Vine, the new micro-video service owned by Twitter, Goldberg has found his medium. His six second clips have exploded in popularity, earning him the title The King of Vine. "It’s funny I’ve been on Twitter for years, and with Vine, I’ve gotten three times the followers in in just a few weeks," says Goldberg. "Something just clicked."
Like its parent company, the strength of Vine is the rapid metabolism it creates through strict limitations. For Twitter, users get only 140 characters to express themselves. With Vine, users get only six seconds for their film. And users must capture their Vines on the fly, without shooting a lengthy video and then selecting the best parts later, as they can with competing apps like Cinemagram. "That’s one of the big strengths of Vine. It’s like shooting on film. You have to nail it live," says Goldberg. "I love it the way it is. My fear is that eventually they will acquiesce to Mashable or whoever and dumb it down with things like filters and post production editing tools."
On Cinemagram, teens have begun learning the tricks and techniques of early silent cinema, a response to the app’s lack of sound. On Vine, which encourages users to edit rapid montages, experimental film techniques seems to work best. "Its hard to get a traditional short film into six seconds," says Goldberg. "Jump cuts and a more fractured narrative are a good way to work with that limitation."
Goldberg’s Vines revolve around a tangle of relationships between himself, his girlfriend Roxanne, her friend Merritt Lear, and a blonde wig. Goldberg is sometimes himself, and sometimes in drag with a blonde wig which seems to have an addictive power over him.
Their home life has the flavor of a David Lynch film. "It was so obvious to me what it was for," Goldberg told BlackBook "It’s a horror app. When you break it down, with its stop-action camera and everything, it’s just perfect for these little horror movies."
For Goldberg, the most intriguing aspect of Vine has been the use of hashtags. While they’re most commonly associated with Twitter, hashtags are really a linguistic device — like the @ symbol for email — that sprang from the QWERTY keyboard and can be used to organize media on any platform with text. Goldberg hoped the hashtags would let people follow the story, which is spread out in six-second installments across a number of characters and accounts that offer different perspectives on the same events, Rashomon style.
"Strictly speaking only my account is mine. But my account sort of ate Merritt Lear’s account," he explained. "It seemed only natural that Adam, this sycophantic, fractured protagonist, bleeds across accounts.”
"Overt imitation just seems boring."
What Goldberg wasn’t prepared for was quite how many perspectives would emerge. Dozens of users began jumping on the hashtag #MerrittZandu144 to signify an experimental or absurdist Vine. Others crafted scenes that seemed to fit into the strange interplay emerging between Goldberg, Merritt, Roxanne and the blonde wig. Some of the copycats rub Goldberg the wrong way. "Overt imitation just seems boring. I’m not sure what’s appealing about that to the artist or the audience." But overall, Goldberg is excited to see what the Vine community does with his characters and newly formed aesthetic. "Just like with a script you’re writing or song you’re producing, the story begins to inform itself. The same goes for the interactive nature of the Internet."