“Welcome To Westport” Video: The Back Story

As the “Welcome to Westport” video continues to rocket around cyberspace — and rack up comments — a bit of background adds some intriguing context.

The film was a group project on “satire” for an Advanced Placement English Language class. While I credited Nick Ribolla for it alone, he wrote and directed it with Jimmy Ray Stagg and Harrison Knapp. It was filmed all in 1 day.

But wait! There’s more!

Part of the inspiration came from a 1985 video called “Westport’s Got It All.” Produced by MCA as a gift for the town’s 150th anniversary, it was a very upbeat ode to the town.

Nick, Jimmy Ray and Harrison subtly satirized the cheesy music, and the opening scene of a man with a newspaper on the banks of the Saugatuck — though I’m sure the Staples juniors have no idea that guy was famed “ABC Wide World of Sports” anchor and Westport resident Jim McKay.

Nick Ribolla (right) channels Jim McKay.

Nick Ribolla (right) channels Jim McKay.

The final line — “Westport’s got it all!” — is a direct ripoff of the 30-year-old video. That’s the mark of great satire: It works for everyone, but it’s especially sweet for those who are in on a deeper joke.

Back in 1985, here’s what Westporters were saying about their town:

  • “I’m worried the town is losing its mix of a variety of people.”
  • “Westporters have extraordinary aspirations for their children. And they’re willing to pay for it.”
  • “Westport has the sophistication of New York, the exuberance of a California town, the quaintness of New England — and a sense of humor.”
  • “We do have latchkey children, as more and more parents go off to work.”
  • “The Post Road is a disaster. But every town has its Post Road. This one looks better than many.”
  • “Commercialization has really changed this town. It’s been good and bad.”

So check out “Westport’s Got It All”:

Then look (again) at “Welcome to Westport” (click here if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube.)

Now tell me Nick, Jimmy Ray and Harrison don’t deserve an A+ for satire.

12 responses to ““Welcome To Westport” Video: The Back Story

  1. Perhaps we should be thankful our group project for AP European History in the spring of ’71–an avant garde short film inspired by the Battle of Waterloo–was created long before videos could be seen in perpetuity on outlets such as YouTube.

  2. The really important issue here is whether the word is sputtering or spluttering.

  3. Susan Lloyd

    It is nice to see Main Street from 30 years ago. Do you think the Staples kids will be saying “Gee, I miss the old downtown.” 30 years from now?

  4. Perhaps the town might think about backing another “Welcome” video considering the passage of 30 years from the last one, not to mention the upcoming Main Street renovations. Seems like an interesting challenge to figure out who and what to put in it. Personally, I don’t see a need to promote the town per se, but rather capture it in time for the benefit of future generations (and humorous videographers), which was the lasting end result here.

  5. Mrs. Essagof

    I too grew up in a “westport like” town and mocked all that it was. Fun is fine but how about a thanks to your parents for making it possible for you to have the resources, education, freedom and time to make this well done but insulting video. Weather or not you “like” this town, your parents worked hard to raise you here with only the best intentions. Who do you think is going to subsidize you life of poverty if that is what you choose? You can also apologize to all the many famous and not so famous artists that live and work here!
    I love a good satire but I think you’ve gone too far!

  6. I was pretty put off when I initially saw the video. In the context of satire and with reference to the source material, it seems much less mean-spirited.

    However, I stand by my initial assessment that 10 or 20 years from now, the creators may seem shocked that they didn’t recognize how fortunate they were and how stimulating of the arts the town is despite the banks, nail salons, and horrendous driving. (Although they may realize this already — it is satire.)

  7. Danielle Dobin

    Great comment. I agree completely.

  8. Lori Andrews

    Brilliantly executed! Perfectly said! Here’s hoping these students continue to feed their creativity.

  9. I grew up in Westport (graduated in 1988) and fled as soon as I could. I moved to a small “artist” town in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. It has been a wonderful 23 years, but get this, if I could afford to raise my children in Westport, I would return next week. Loved the video and agree 100 percent with the many absurdities of the place. But, once you get away and start the challenging process of trying to make a living (as an artist) and raise children (as an artist) and face the facts of sending your children to shitty schools (as an artist), you start to begin to think about Westport again and all that it had to offer. Westport has its share of snobs and overly rich people, but it also has highly educated people who have access to the best of everything. As a parent you want nothing but the best for your children (pizza, bagels&lox and advanced placement classes). I would bet you that the intelligent teens that made this highly creative video will not end up far from the nest. They might end up in Palo Alto or Santa Barabara, but they will have “killer jobs” and drive Mercedes just like the ones their parents drove them around in. You can take the man outta Westport but you cant take the Westport outta the man.