Answers to some questions about Emma Approved.


So TONS of questions about Emma Approved. Per usual there were a lot of questions that would require me to spoil stuff but I did what I could. Seriously, there were a ton!

Be sure not to miss the interview with Sidney Parker by LeakyNews.

Also my previous answers to the all shows one universe question and other Welcome to Sanditon questions can be found here (Universe) and here (Sanditon).

Let’s get to the Emma stuff…

Q: Hey Bernie! I know you’ve probably already cast Emma Approved, but I hope that Emma is not white. Failing that, I hope you’ll keep up the same high proportion of diversity that was in LBD. It means a lot! :)

and related to

Q: Will we see an increase in diverse characters in Emma Approved, including more POC and/or queer characters?

A: The casting calls we’ve put out for all roles thus far have been for “All ethnicities.” This is different from the LBD, where the only “all ethnicities” role we cast initially was Charlotte.

Also note that when we do this, we cast the best person available to us regardless of race. So as we did an “all ethnicities” call for the first three cast members of Welcome to Sanditon, they all ended up being caucasian because Joel, Kyle, and Lenne were the three best actors we saw for those roles.

So yes there is a chance that any or ALL initial cast members of Emma Approved would be diverse, but there’s no guarantee that they will be.

Otherwise: Spoilers.


A: Spoilers.

Q: Will we have any new writers on board this time around? Also have the actors/actresses been cast? Has filming started? I’m super excited to see what you guy are going to do with Emma :D

A: We currently have one new writer aboard and she brings her own unique background that makes her perfect to have on the team. As for everything else, it’s all in process.

Q: When adapting Emma to the web series format, do you struggle with decisions regarding how far to veer from the original material?

A: Not really. With the LBD and subsequently Emma Approved it was really more important to stick to an interpretation of the character and then hopefully have it follow the original plot and story beats. It’s a balance and it’s one of those things that you just have to do and have faith that it works.

Q: I don’t want to rush it, but when will we find out the start date of Emma Approved?

A: Nothing would please me more than to announce a start date for Emma Approved, but unfortunately you’ll find out the start date when we actually lock in on one. There is no set start date yet. Why? Because we aren’t ready yet. You can actually see how not ready we are by the lack of content floating around in universe. I’d love to announce a start date, but we just don’t have it yet… sorry.

Q: Have you seen the Autobiography of Jane Eyre on youtube yet? What do you think of it?

A: I’m aware of it but since I haven’t really watched it yet, I don’t have an opinion at this time. There are parts of Jane Eyre (the novel) where I scratched my head as to what the modern equivalent would be so I never really got very far in trying to adapt that one. Thus, I am curious.

I am happy that others are trying things like LBD and playing in the format. I wish them the best, hope they execute well, and hope that it’s well received.

Feel free to check it out here.

Q: Will Emma Approved be domino based? It would be great to have it more LBD style with some Lydia-esque handheld vlogs too.


Q: Am I correct in assuming that Emma will be using Domino? If so, can we expect to see upgrades in Domino’s functionality following the beta test?

A: You are correct in assuming that Emma will be incorporating elements of what the Gigi/Domino/WTS spinoffs have added to the format. A lot of people have thought that the Gigi/Domino spinoff was a precursor to WTS, but the truth is what we tried with Gigi/Domino was really a pilot test that I needed to run to see if what I wanted to do with Emma Approved would actually work.

Also reminding you that the Welcome to Sanditon interface is actually way more dynamic than the Demo: Gigi Darcy interface. In WTS you did have some select scenes of “hand held.” Anyway, all I can say right now is that we’ll be evolving and trying new things.

Q: What was the most challenging thing about making Emma Approved in the light of LBD’s success and how did the creative process differ this time around, when you had your working model, as opposed to sort of ‘jumping into the unknown’ with the LBD?

A: Well I can only talk about what we’ve done so far. The equivalent time period we’re at right in the LBD (which started April 2012) is Jan/Feb 2012. (Do not read into this that we’re 2-3 months away from launch)

So the big difference is the expectations, which can be pretty daunting. Before the LBD launched we were under no expectations. We didn’t even know if it’d actually work. We were just trying things, experimenting, having fun, and making gratuitous Austen call outs for the sake of it.

This time it’s very different. We’ve done an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that was not only a hit, but is considered by many (not everyone) of those who experienced it as one of the greats. So there is definitely pressure and high expectations going into Emma Approved.

That’s the hardest part. Not the existence of the high expectations, but transforming that expectation from pressure into drive. Honor the work, stay focused, tell a great story, and think outside the box.

But as you alluded to, we have a working model. We have a system and sure it’s evolving, but it’s in place. We have a good base infrastructure, and we have a year plus of this format under our belts. We have the tools to succeed so lets see if we do.

Q: Do you have any idea how long ‘Emma Approved’ will run for? Will it be as long as LBD (almost a year)? Can’t wait for it to start!

A: I don’t have an answer to this yet. Ask me again in a few months and I’ll let you know. When I was asked how long LBD was gonna go when we started the show I said it would probably be close to 150 episodes, which of course ended up being totally incorrect.

Q: With the experience of Lizzie Bennet & Sanditon under your belt; has your approach to Emma Approved changed because of your previous experiences, or have you kept a similar method based on how well the previous two were presented?

A: My personal approach has been evolving ever since LBD started. Watching what LBD (and subsequently WTS) did well and what it didn’t taught me a lot. I am approaching EA with all that in mind but I’m gonna try some new things. I think doing Emma just like LBD would feel incredibly stale. There needs to be a different look, speed, energy, and style to it.

Q: In Emma Approved, is George Knightley going to be a character seen early?

A: Who’s ready for #KnightleyDay?! Christmas Day, 2015!!!! Mark your calendars everyone! —- I kid. Seriously, I am kidding.

But anyway, spoilers.

Q: Will Emma Approved follow the plot of the book as closely as LBD did, or use it as more of a jumping off point into a new set of characters and dilemmas the way WTS did?

A: This is another one of those questions where I could say what we’re planning to do but then we’ll be evolving and reacting as we go so everything could change really quickly. We’ll do our best to find the “modern equivalent” of each dilemma, but we will see.

I would be really surprised if we ended up as close to every plot point as we were in The LBD. Not that we won’t try for that, but it just seems very unlikely given how close we ended up being with Lizzie Bennet.

One thing I do know, is that we aren’t starting the story at the exact point in the narrative as the novel starts it. Read into that however you choose.

Q: Is there already EA transmedia out there that we haven’t found yet? :D

A: I don’t know… what have you found? :) But in all seriousness there isn’t that much out there yet, like I said, we’re not really ready.

Q: With the success of LBD and WTS, could it be a possible that we’ll see more locations on screen, or any other higher budget upgrades?

A: I wish I could answer this with a definitive “hell yeah.” But all of that is still TBD. I will say that we aren’t starting with girl in her bedroom and not moving her for 24 videos this time around.

Q: Was the existence (and popularity) of Clueless a drawback for choosing Emma as the next adaptation? Do you have plans in place to differentiate Emma Approved from Clueless?

A: Emma Approved is very separate from Clueless. Well I can’t definitely say that since as an experiment I’m purposely not watching (re-watching) any adaptation of Emma in preparation. I’m coming at this adaptation with as little influence as possible.

I did watch Clueless almost 15 years ago, and it is the only Emma adaptation I’ve actually seen. I can say by premise alone Emma Approved is pretty far away from it. Cher Horowitz is a high schooler. Our Emma Woodhouse is a mid twenties entrepreneur. They live in very different worlds and are in very different points in their lives.

Q: What made you pick Emma for the next adaptation? Was there other books (Jane Austen or not) that you considered before settling on Emma? Or has it always been the obvious choice?


Q: Besides Emma, what were the other possible choices for adaptation post-LBD?

A: When we (mainly Hank and I) would talk about the next novel adaptation we started with Emma but eventually moved around. Other novels named/considered were Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables, Wuthering Heights, Little Women, and ALL the other Austen books.

So really we considered a lot of possibilities. Back in November, I was telling team members that we’d probably be adapting Emma, but in December I was telling them that we’d do Sense and Sensibility… I was all over the place.

I realized that this was really my choice and which premise and character I wanted to take on. I’d be showrunning this again and so I really had to take the one that I wanted to do. I know it sounds selfish, but I am very much a passion guy and so the only one out of all of them that I really felt excited about was Emma. I was super passionate about the LBD, it worked because I was able to throw all my energy at it. So if I’m the head writer, it had to be Emma.

It doesn’t mean we won’t be doing other novels or stories, it just came down to a simple question asked to me. “What story do you (Bernie) want to do next?”.

Which relates to.

Q: What made you choose Emma as your next novel adaptation? What draws you to her as a character?

A: Adding to what I said above, it’s really about the character. Now Emma Approved is an adaptation, it’s our version of Emma in today’s hyper connected world. So it’s an interpretation.

In writing our version of Emma, I can say that she’s right now one of my favorite characters that I’ve ever written for.

My favorite aspects of Emma are that she’s a super confident “ends justifies the means” character with pure intentions and is really driven. So having someone like that with the resources she has and placing her in today’s connected world makes her capable of executing and justifying almost any action in her head to achieve her very genuine end goals.

In short, I believe modern Emma Woodhouse has a heart of gold, possesses incredible power, is capable of anything, and is totally unpredictable. I’m just as excited as you all are to see her.

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    I really enjoyed the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Can’t wait for Emma Approved.
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    Probably my favorite answer is the question about diverse characters.. I think that’s the way it should be- cast based...