So yesterday’s episode from the Welcome to Sanditon series is pretty significant to me because I didn’t direct it.
Sure during Lizzie Bennet Diaries there were five episodes that I didn’t direct in month 9, but this episode of Welcome to Sanditon marks the first time where a new director has come in and directed an entire production cycle. These next set of Sanditon episodes (the odd number ones) are all directed by Joshua Caldwell, who from what I could tell did an awesome job.
In a town and an industry where directing is at many times looked as the grand goal, I went ahead and identified an individual that I had faith would fit the style and the format, stepped aside, and let him run with it.
As far as the format goes (adapting novels into vlogs) this was pretty much a necessity. During The Lizzie Bennet Diaries I was covering a ton of areas. The showrunning, the directing, overseeing the editing, helping in the transmedia, the spinoffs, whatever I was somehow involved. Sure it’s fun and it kinda worked, but it certainly isn’t sustainable. And no, I was not doing everything, I was just doing a lot, and involved in a lot. It’s exhausting and you get prone to burnout.
So with Sanditon and other future shows coming out of Pemberley Digital, I knew that I needed to take a step back. If we were going to keep this somewhat consistent pace of having shows come out on a somewhat regular basis there needed to be other talented and capable people to come in and do the work. Which is why you have Margaret and Jay as the showrunners and now Joshua Caldwell directing.
A good friend asked me if it was hard to hand off the directing reigns and I replied with, “nope, I have complete faith.”
Anyway for those of you wondering, I’ve been busy writing and developing the 2nd full series book adaptation. Everything about it is TBA, but it’s coming.
Earlier this month, at a symposium at the University of Southern California film school, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg predicted the collapse of most megabudget movies, and with it the end of Hollywood as it now exists.
What Spielberg and Lucas are really saying is, “Nobody wants our movies anymore.” They’re being credited with foresight for simply noticing that they’re no longer wanted.
The focus on technology as the answer is misguided and embarassing. I’ve fiddled around with Oculus Rift. It’s neat, but it’s not a solution to a problem any more than 3D is. Or surround sound. Or IMAX. Or videos that pause when you look away. It’s a baby step at best. New features are rarely game changers.
Sleep No More is a solution to the problem. I’ve logged 12 hours in that world. It’s good art. It’s challenging and visceral and human and immersive in a way Oculus Rift will never be. It’s entertainment for grownups. It charges what it’s worth and it’s wildly popular.
Sopranos was a solution to the problem. Louie is a solution to the problem. The Paul F. Tompkast is a solution to the problem. Radiolab is a solution to the problem. The best video games, and not just the ones on your TV screen, are solutions to the problem.
Spielberg and Lucas are predicting the future when it’s already here. It’s not bold to predict that the megabudget movie industry will die. The interesting part is that, just as is the case with Spielberg and Lucas projects right now, nobody will care or really even notice when it happens. Our attention will be elsewhere. It already is.
I believe what Eric Mortensen says above is spot on. I watched World War Z last week and I thought it was a fun and fresh movie. I found myself wanting to dive in more into the storyworld. “India is a blackhole?” Really? Show it to me or even let me read about it cause I really want to know more about it.
You (the producers) just spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars into hooking me into your world but all you can give me is 2 hours of linear entertainment? Is that really the best use of resources?
A movie by itself can’t expand past that. It can’t feed the beast of the hooked consumer. It never could and before the extensions of TV, Web Video, Social Media, Gaming and the Internet, it never needed to.
I spent hours at a hackathon this weekend walking a room full of developers through not just storytelling, but world building and world extending. There is using tech to experience film and tv but there is also using tech to shape how we can experience stories that extend beyond film or tv.
When you’ve hooked an audience into the top level (no easy feat), you can then give them multi layers of world extension. This is what I believe the next generation (or even this generation) of storytelling will become. You want to know more? It’s out there, go find it. If you don’t, well you have a good top level story so enjoy it.
Oh and Sleep No More is one of the greatest immersive stories that I’ve ever experienced. If you’re in or are going to NYC, I consider it a MUST SEE, and I can’t wait to experience it again.
But the 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.
We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.
So now that it’s finished I wanted to give a full plug to LOOKBOOK: The Series.
This series is a very different type of show than LBD. It’s third person, it’s behind the fourth wall, and it’s not interactive. Note: I had sketched out some interactive components for this show but alas the resources caught up to us on this one and thus this plays more like a TV show than the LBD.
I was shooting this series last November (mentioned here) and it was one of the most exhausting, yet enriching weeks of my life.
As for the show itself, yes it is actually from LOOKBOOK.nu, the fashion social network that many LBD fans saw me utilize in Jane’s LOOKBOOK. LBD fans will also see another familiar face in Wes Aderhold.
With the large amount of brand integration it’s safe to say that the show is heavily branded. But as there are many clothing brands within the show (and sponsoring the show), the real brand is LOOKBOOK.nu the website.
My involvement with the show is as a Writer, Director, and Executive Producer. LOOKBOOK put together a fund for an experimental project and approached me about coming up with something scripted for them.
I was pretty happy to see that LOOKBOOK allowed me a lot of range as to how dark I could go. For one, having actual language in a “branded show” is pretty unheard of in online video. It’s something that I’m not even quite used to yet. Anyway, I can say that the Cleo character is one of the darkest characters I’ve ever written.
The series runs 9 episodes with a total runtime of about 50 minutes.
I purposely designed the show to fit within the one hour television format. I was also experimenting with act breaks (commercial breaks) and minimal casting. This show is basically a dramatic TV pilot about fashion bloggers with 5 cast members and 8 act breaks.
You can follow the main 5 cast members on twitter here.
The story is very much in the teen soap tone but I am skeptical if you’ll like it as a Lizzie Bennet Diaries fan. This is definitely more into the Pretty Little Liars and darker realm. If you don’t like it for whatever reason then that’s okay, it’s not for everyone. Otherwise, enjoy!
Q: I’m a huge fan of the LBD—thanks for all your hard work! With LBD, I liked how the transmedia elements complemented the story. With Sanditon, so far it’s difficult to get attached to the characters and approach the transmedia (it seems bigger than the story). I just don’t have the time, but I want to have a full experience without feeling like I’m missing out. I know it’s early in the process, but do you have any advice/can you make it more accessible to those who don’t want to role-play?
A: Hi there. Thanks for the great question. Welcome to Sanditon is definitely a departure from The LBD in many ways. Now as for the story, I think it’s jarring because you as the viewer have just come off this crazy ride on The LBD and here we are starting things up (almost from scratch) with WTS. When Lizzie Bennet started there wasn’t all this transmedia/world expansion. It was just Lizzie, Jane, Charlotte, and Lydia. We don’t even mention Darcy’s name until episode 4.
So in WTS, right now there isn’t big drama, it’s setup. So far you’ve gotten 7 minutes of video, some transmedia elements, and a whole huge fictional town to play in. So yeah right now there’s a lot and it definitely looks overwhelming.
Here are the three ways I think you can choose to experience this.
1. Just watch the videos here on Pemberley Digital’s YT channel: What you’ll get will be our version of the story of Sanditon. Granted our version is already quite a departure and will continue to be. Heck just the presence of Gigi Darcy and the Darcy name guarantees that. As I said before, right now we’re about 7 minutes of video in and well, it’s pretty much just character and setup at this point.
2. Watch the videos and follow the official accounts on twitter. Between these two you should be getting 95% (if not 100%) of our story. This is pretty much no different from The LBD experience. It’s probably less crazy because you won’t need to subscribe to 4 YT channels to track everything.
3. Go all in. Videos, Official Twitter, Townsfolk, Domino, anything and everything. You can get completely lost in this world. It’s big, it’s vast, and it’s grown to such in literally a week. It is absolutely astonishing.
There are now over 600 residents of Sanditon, CA. The line between creator and consumer keeps getting blurrier.— Hank Green (@hankgreen)
Now this is just my opinion, but like The LBD I feel you can experience our story pretty cleanly by just watching the videos, and like The LBD you’ll get a richer character story by following the in character official accounts. But UNLIKE The LBD, you can now be a part of the world. You can get your hands dirty and play in the sandbox or stay clean and watch everyone else play in the sandbox. WTS is a massive experiment and an evolution of the format. We’re definitely trying some new things and how you want to experience it is entirely up to you.