LBD - Answering Questions - Gigi, Pemberley and Callbacks

Q: While I love that you’re giving shoutouts to fans, it’s a little hard to keep seeing the seahorse references. Not all the fans are part of the seahorses, or even really want to be. From an outside perspective, it feels like Word of God is giving precedence to the seahorses, lending them a sense of officiality, when there are so many more fans out there. We all love this show.

A: Hmm, well we’re trying to give balance to it. I don’t think the fandom has “grouped” with a name other than seahorses, so I hope our references are obscure enough that it plays without knowing what the group is. We love all of our fans.

Also I know that some of us who make the show are amused with such a strange name so we do like to play at that. No matter how much it’s explained it’s still a bit of an odd name. :)


Q: Did you consider any other backgrounds for Bing Lee? Or was a doctor for a son-in-law the ultimate/obvious goal for Mrs. Bennet?

A: I think we were always going to go with doctor. Doctor just felt like such a widely universal occupation/purpose that’s respected. Could we have given it more thought and looked at other occupations? Yes. But we didn’t.

Q: Is the 9am upload time in-universe? Because it easily couldn’t be and I feel like it would make some things easier to believe. Also, how did you decide on that time, was it the international timezone stuff?

A: I think we’re pretty much set that it’s in universe. It’s very coincendtal that Maria, Lizzie, Lydia, and Gigi all arbitrarily picked 9AM PST as their time to upload videos.

As for deciding the time, this has actually evolved over the course of the show. When we started we just said Mon and Thurs. Sometimes it would be 10am sometimes it would be noon. It was at the mercy of when Hank would finish editing and/or when either of us were able to upload the video.

When it was clear that we were a hit out of the gate it became apparent that the fans were hungry for a new episode. “It’s Monday, where is it?!” and since we’d get bombarded with messages like that every Mon and Thurs morning, we figured a set release time would keep it all consistent. 9 AM PST.

So as much as uploading 9AM PST in universe would make sense to Lizzie, I don’t think it’s universally optimal if you do worldwide timezone math.

Q: Bernie, just a thought. If Lizzie Bennet were to come to you for a job, would you give her one? Would you give her a transmedia, writing, or on-camera job?

A: Good question. So trying to step back and look at Lizzie as objectively as I can, I’d definitely find a way to work with her and I’d probably start with on-camera. Though I’d be very open to hear about what she’d want to do rather than only considering what I’ve seen her do well.

Q: A friend of mine told me that when she heard Ingrid Michaelson’s “Far Away” she thought of Lizzie. (Lobsterman’s wife, blue bay/by the shore, three girls with strawberry curls) We refuse to believe that this is a coincidence and I just wanted to ask — on a related note — what other things do you reference on The LBD? (I’ve caught a Squaresville reference by Rachel Kiley, but nothing much else)

A: Well we’ve referenced a lot of things on the show. Margaret and Ashley are big Star Trek fans so there have been several of those references in Margaret episodes. Since I am not a Star Trek fan (nothing against it, just not a fan) I insist that the reference be subtle. This goes for all pop-culture references. We’re not always perfect at this but we try.

Q: How many episodes of LBD are left? I’m sad it’ll be over soon, but thank you so much for creating a wonderful web series!

A: Thank you, it’s been quite a journey. I’ve learned a lot.  A LOT. It’ll end sometime in March. Some fans have requested to not be told how many episodes are left, so that’s all you get. Sorry :)

Q: I thought that having Lydia reference Lizzie’s second video by referring to herself as a “whorey slut” was a masterful touch. It perfectly epitomized how the interactivity and youtube medium enables both character and plot development. Was that particular mention planned all the way back at the second episode, or later on? Also, was Gigi’s suggestion for Darcy to take a swim a nod to the 1995 BBC P&P?

A: Not many shows get to do an 85 episode call back so I’m glad we got the opportunity. Rachel wrote both those episodes and I’m happy she did it. Looking back at the show, I think you could say that the original “whorey slut” line was the most controversial line in the series and it happened in episode 2!

I’ve said publicly that I do regret that we said the original line from Ep 2, but in life you don’t get to go back in time and correct regrets. You live with them and you learn from them.

Side Note: I know that Rachel has publicly stood behind the original line and that’s fine. Like we learn from our life choices, she effectively took the line and made Lizzie learn from the ramifications of saying that line to Lydia way back when. And like I said before , Lizzie also doesn’t get to go back in time.

So the reference was not planned. When ep 2 was written, we didn’t know if the show was going to last beyond its original 8 episode shoot. We didn’t even know if people were going to like the show. We weren’t planning callbacks. Actually, I don’t think we’ve ever planned any of our callbacks and we do a lot of callbacks. We’ve always just discovered when to put them in.

As for Gigi’s line. It’s kind of a wink to the 1995 scene but it’s really a Gigi growth line. She’s scarred from her past swimming life so the line is there to show that Gigi is getting past that and that she’ll be okay.

Q: What are your theories as to why India is #2 for the Gigi spin off but no where in the top 5 for the Lizzie videos?

A: I honestly believe the high traffic from India is because that there are programmers there who were watching the videos thinking that it was demonstrating a real application/user interface. Seriously, look at some of the early comments in some of the earlier episodes, it’s clear that there is a slightly different audience coming in. Whether they continue to believe it to be a real application is another thing, but clicking a video for “app research?” Makes sense to me.

Q: Two questions: Did the way you approached the LBD change as the amount of viewers who analysed the episodes in detail grew (and how do you feel about that), and how does the amount of Tumblr followers the characters have compare to their Twitters? Also well done for your Streamy, it’s very well deserved. :D

A: Yes. In the earlier episodes we were very much about the “say lots of things, really fast, and make it all really clear” mode. As the show went on and as we got a feel for the show and the audience, we added more and more subtext and “looks” between the characters. Not everything needs to be communicated via words, we can use looks, and then you the audience gets to analyze.

My favorite recent episode is 81, which had so many moments of one character saying something and two characters looking at each other for reasons. It’s fun to watch.

As for tumblr. They’re pretty consistent. I think that Twitter has actually grown more because we have more ancillary story content there rather than tumblr. I think we could have done more on tumblr to give you more story, rather than posting videos and reblogging fan art but I think it would have really fragmented the audience (and it’s a lot of work!)

Q: While answering questions a couple weeks ago, you mentioned that writers aspiring to work with web series like the LBD ought to make a show themselves. What advice would you give to people trying to do this, as far as writing and general production go?

Well my advice is to not rush it. This is by far the biggest mistake that I see people make. People get into this state of rushing stuff out for no reason. If there’s a hurry, then there’s a hurry. Otherwise, take your time, plan, develop, rehearse, make notes, do test shoots. In the beginning, you have the luxury of taking as much time as you need to get it as right as you can.  Once you get going (like we are) you’re at the mercy of the train moving along the tracks. So since you have the luxury of time right now, take it.

Q: Now that the Pemberley Digital videos are done, can you tell us more about why you chose to use the Domino app to reveal the Darcy side of things? Was it just because Wickham downloading the app gave a way for them to find him? Or was there more to it than that? Also, I will not be at all upset if you can find more reasons to get Gigi on camera. (Fitz too!)

A: Well a couple of reasons.

1. In order to reveal the Darcy side of things there needed to be a more dynamic canvas. Darcy is off doing this thing so how do we know what he’s doing? It’s probably not interesting enough if it’s just 6 videos of Gigi in a room and Fitz coming into that room and going “so here’s what your brother is doing/did today”.

2. I wanted to push the format. Think of it as like a proof of concept. I was in meetings with the Deca team and Hank and pitching them about how I believe that in order to show this side of the story we needed to present it this way. After making half a dozen drawings on a whiteboard I had a green light from them.

As much as I’m not happy as to how we totally dues ex machina’d (look it up if you don’t know) Wickham getting caught, I am happy we got to show you this side of the story, especially the deeper character relationships between Gigi/Fitz and Gigi/Darcy.

Q: Why have so few episodes from Gigi’s point of view?
and related
Q: We’ve already seen Gigi be an excellent schemer in regards to Lizzie and Darcy; why did you guys decide to have her only help Darcy accidentally instead of having her plot to try and get Wickham to download the Domino app?

1. Aside from the “proof of concept” nature said above. It was really about keeping it focused on Lizzie’s story. Gigi’s was almost a non-existent presence for 9 months until suddenly she comes in like a rocket and makes this huge impact on Lizzie’s world. She made such an impact that in ways you could see her completely changing the rest of the show.

Not to take away from how awesome Gigi is, but it does take away from Lizzie and Darcy’s growth toward each other if Gigi is given too much credit. It’s also why we didn’t have Gigi actively try to get George to download the app. If Gigi’s the one that catches George than that takes away from Darcy.

Gigi does what she needs to do to face her own demons and she also does what she can to help things along. But at this point in the story Lizzie and Darcy need to be the ones in control of their destiny.

EDIT: I add more about this choice and insight here:

Q: Which Character would you most want to play? Which cast member do you think is most like the character they portray? Which cast member are you the closest to on the LBD?

A: In order
1. I don’t act, so nobody. I have no interest.
2. Closest (doesn’t mean exactly). Ashley, Chris, or Craig.
3. Ashley (obviously given the journey of the show), also Max and Craig (they’re both longtime personal friends of mine).

Q: I hope this isn’t too inappropriate but I’m wondering about the costs of running a webseries like LBD. I know you probably can’t disclose specifics but do you have to build sets and buy costs? How many people are involved? Are there volunteers or is everyone who works on LBD a paid employee?

A: It’s a good question for those of you who want to do stuff like this.
Well costs are always a bunch of floating variables. Some sets you can get for free, some props you already have, and some you don’t. You can look at the details section of any of the video and see the number of people involved in the show.  I will say that every single person who works on the production of the show is monetarily compensated for their work sans a few volunteers.

There is not a single member of this team that works on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries as a full time job, not even me. We work hard, we do the best we can, and we subsidize our income so we can cover our life expenses. Welcome to the world of web video.

Q: Ok, I know this is a spoilery question but I’m going to ask anyway. Is there any chance that we will get more Gigi vlogs (or Lydia vlogs) before this is all over with? The spinoffs add so many beloved characters (Mary, Fitz, Gigi, Kitty!) and I don’t think we can handle going back to only two videos a week!

A: I’ll answer this one (somewhat cryptically). We’re getting to the point in the story where the narrative needs to focus on Lizzie.

Q: Me again! I have really enjoyed seeing the Gigi spin-off but the use of domino still snags at me slightly. You previously said that Gigi’s arc is told through domino rather than her own personal channel for a clear reason - which we now know to be so that Wickham could be tracked down. While I understand that this is necessary to move the story along from a story writing point of view, I still don’t think it makes a massive amount of sense from an in world point of view. Care to wade in on this?

A: Yeah, it’s a weird balance. I say “weird” more for me because I’m trying to not give stuff away. I know it “snags” a lot of people but it was a move that really needed to be done.

I kinda thought that the Friday press release and subsequent Gigi/Fitz conversation would clue stuff in but I’m seeing nothing short of a dozen theories in the tags so obviously it wasn’t clear at all. :P

So yes, Pemberley Digital, a video/tech/app company, airing personal high level exec content on a demo, would be rather odd. But what if the long game of Pemberley Digital was more than a video/tech/app company?

 

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    Is Bernie suggesting that Pemberley is looking to expand into the digital entertainment world? Or something else?
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