Wow 50 episodes in. Sorry this BTS is coming a little late but I was sick this past weekend. It was a busy week last week capped off with speaking on an awesome panel for social media week. Thanks to those you who watched it. If you care to see it, you can watch it here. Warning: It is about writers and using social media, and is NOT a panel focused on Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
I will say that getting to be able to speak with my panelists was an absolute treat. Joel Wyman, who showruns Fringe, is someone I look up to and I felt I was learning from him just by sitting next to him.
Anyway, let’s get to the questions…. and GO! -
Q: After rewatching the Darcy game show I wondered, does Darcy hold men to the same standards as he does women?
A: Well I think when you’re attracted to one gender over the other it would probably skew the standards that you hold them to. Regardless, I’d like to think that Darcy holds the men in his life to a pretty high level of integrity and accomplishment.
Q: Hi, I just wanted to let you know how much I LOVE The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I look forward to the new videos every day that they come out. You’re doing a great job! Also, we better see Darcy soon!
A: Thanks for the praise and for watching the show! and that’s all I’ll say about that. ;)
Q: In the book, there were several months between Bingley and Co. leaving for London and Elizabeth’s trip to Hunsford. How do you justify shortening it to only a few week gap, given the mental place Darcy is supposed to be in? I realize that there is a certain amount of suspension of disbelief required here, but how can Elizabeth take a trip to visit Charlotte LONG enough to encompass every plot point that happens at Hunsford when it’s almost October and every grad program in the US has started?
A: We are aware of it and we are addressing it. I will spoil nothing and just say “there will be enough time.”
Q: How come every LBD turn gives me feels (especially when Charlotte calls Lizzie, and then again when we see it from Char’s perspective on Maria’s channel), even though I already know the plot?
A: Thanks for that, but I think the beauty of how it’s working is that we continue to try to add depth to the characters and relationships whenever we can. Every character in our world has a purpose. - The Maria channel was especially unique because it was starting a channel for a character that has never appeared on the main show (unlike Lydia).
Also props to Margaret Dunlap who wrote the Maria arc and the four episodes of LBD that reconcile our besties.
I hope we continue to do more of these spinoff series. I’m not gonna guarantee anything, but we’ll keep trying.
Q: This might be more of an accusation rather than a question, but why don’t you update Darcy’s, Bing’s and Caroline’s twitter more often?? They should tweet more…
A: I think they tweet pretty regularly as is. There are people that tweet often, there are people who just sit and read what everyone else tweets, and there are people who don’t really use twitter. I think that the Darcy camp is pretty good about it considering the type of people they are. Now Collins on the other hand, that guy needs to say something!
Q: I remember Hank mentioning you needed 100,000 view to pay for LBD? When do you think the series will start self-funding?
A: When this is over I’m sure Hank and I (and everyone else) will be part of retelling the whole story of all the details that made this all possible. I’ll just say that right now, we are good. Here’s one major clue.
We never did/needed a Kickstarter/IndieGogo campaign. As a guy who’s been doing webseries/short film as long as I have, this is something that I am VERY, VERY proud of.
Q: Okay, so someone had asked (Hank) Green a question I had been somewhat pondering myself(question about who runs Jane’s pinterest, and he said Laura does). Is that the case with the twitters and tumblrs? Do the actors run those as well? If not, do they get to have any input/suggestion with how things are presented/portrayed? This has been something I’ve been wondering for awhile. :) Still LOVE the show!
A: This is a question that I keep dodging, but I’ll explain why I dodge it. If I told you that I was the one controlling Darcy’s twitter (I am not), from this point on when you see him tweet instead of thinking “oh that’s Darcy tweeting,” you’ll think “oh that’s Bernie tweeting for Darcy”. If I answer the question it breaks the immersive experience for everyone that knows the answers. Who tweets for Darcy? Darcy tweets for Darcy. :)
I’ll say that each character’s personification is a combination of every single person who works on the show, from the actors to the writers to the production team. This goes from who the characters are on the video blogs to who they are across social media.
Q: Why is George Wickham such a jerk? He’s not someone I would want to get to know (unlike the book where he’s the type of person everyone likes). He’s simple, openly vain, and he doesn’t seem like a guy who would attract Lizzie.
A: Good riddance am I right?! - Anyway, I’ll say that this is all perception. We as the audience being the third person are getting a different perspective here. Would Lizzie under “normal” circumstances see through Wickham’s personality?… eh maybe. I know a lot of the fans would say “she absolutely should” but let me present to you what Lizzie has gone through.
1. We know that in Ep 18, she met George at a bar. As far we know, he was really polite and kind to her, and he’s smoking hot.
2. During the next 11 weeks, Lizzie goes under a barrage of stress. (Forced to move to Netherfield, comes back and immediately has to deal with Collins, and then finally BOOM the fall of her lifelong friendship literally overnight!)
3. Wickham comes back into her life and shows immediate interest. - A guy that good looking, showing interest to a girl like Lizzie who’s gone under all that stress, he just might look like a literal ab-tastic angel to Lizzie.
Finally I’ll say there are two different types of attractions that we all have. For Lizzie, there is Mr. Right, and Mr. Right Now. Is Lizzie looking for Mr. Right? Yes. Is Wickham more of a Mr. Right Now? Yes. Could Lizzie tell the difference during those two weeks while trying to recover from all that duress? No.
Q: The cast for this series couldn’t be more perfect; my particular favorites are Lydia, Jane, and Mary. Can you tell us more about casting them? What was the moment when you knew each person was the right person for the part? Or, what set them apart from other people auditioning? Is there any footage??
A: Casting is a long process. You have literally hundreds of people submitting and then you pick out about 20-100 to come in and audition and then you look for the best.
The process of finding the core four was very different than the rest, with them we were trying to find this mix of talent, look, personality, and chemistry. From that point on it evolved more into seeing if the candidate was right with the actor they’d share scenes with.
Bings read with Lizzie and Jane.
Marys read with Lydia.
Wickhams read with Lizzie and Lydia.
Marias read with Charlotte.
Q: Change too little and your story won’t be believable in a modern setting; too much and you risk annoying fans of the original. I’m looking forward to seeing how you update the climax of the story. I know you can’t (and shouldn’t) give it away, but can you share how far along you are in that process? Is the plot basically set in stone at this point? Or are you still adapting and evolving? Does the growing fan affection for _this_ adaptation give you the freedom to go farther in making changes?
A: Good question. I think when you tackle something as big as this, and then seeing how big as it’s grown, and then factoring that we’re not too far ahead to remain reactable there certainly are big choices to be made.
Basically, we have our ideas for every major plot point and every major character development. Are they set in stone? No. Can we adapt and evolve? You bet we can and we will. - As the fan affection has kept us to a high level of execution I think at the same time it challenges us to make big bold choices, so we’ll keep doing that.
So that’s it for now. Finally, I’d like to list everyone who has directly worked on the first 50 episodes of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and here they are (minus Hank and I)
Producer - Jenni Powell
Assistant Director - Stuart Davis
Make-Up - Heather Begley
Stylist - Kristy Benjamin
Production Designer - Katie Moest
Cinematography - Jason Raswant, Joe Nation, Kathryn Begle
Assistant Camera - Tahlena Chikami, Zelda Hallman
Production Assistant - Jeff Jarvis, Laura Chernikoff
Editor - Michael Aranda
Transmedia Producer - Jay Bushman
Transmedia Editor - Alexandra Edwards
The awesome writers.
Margaret Dunlap, Rachel Kiley, Anne Toole, Kate Rorick , and Daryn Strauss
And the amazing cast,
Ashley Clements, Julia Cho, Laura Spencer, Mary Kate Wiles, Maxwell Glick, Jessica Jade Andres, Christopher Sean, Wes Aderhold, Briana Cuoco, and Janice Lee.
As I did with the Netherfield arc, here is my BTS blog post answering some questions about the last month of The LBD. So let’s dive right in.
Q: Do you script Lizzie’s Questions and Answers videos? Or does Ashley come up with that stuff herself? Also, does Ashley or any of the other actors improv some lines that you keep in the video?
A: It’s scripted. The whole show is scripted. There is some improv but 95% of what you hear the actors say is what’s written on the script. It’s less so on the Q&A videos, but it’s all pretty much there in advance before we push record. There have been times where I’ve walked on to set and have said “I don’t like the answer we (usually I) wrote for this question, what do we think?” and then the writers and actors come up with a better one. Oh and I don’t write every answer, that’s pretty collaborative as well.
Q: The fandom surrounding Lydia, Collins, Caroline, etc. is mostly due to the fact that we can see them & the characters have been so fleshed out for us, unlike in the book where we’re not as invested in Charlotte, e.g. One of the things about Darcy in the book is that we get to see him falling in love with her from his point of view, which means we’re invested in his proposal. With the vids, are you concerned that we won’t care as much about his “proposal” the way we care and feel heartbroken about Lizzie and Charlotte fighting, because I have a feeling that will be the 1st time we see him? Sorry if this is long and rambling and I hope I’m being clear. I think I thought that Twitter was how were were going see his POV, but now I’m not sure how you can get across the depth of his feeling to us. So I guess my question is: does that worry you?
A: Long question, short answer. No, it doesn’t worry me. We at the LBD have made our bed (a bed with a very limited and focused POV) and we at the LBD will lie in it.
Q: Why are you determined to rip my heart out, stomp all over it, and make me laugh all through?
A: Thanks? :) The only thing I’m determined to do is to take you on a journey through an amazing story.
Q: So a question crossed my mind and I’ve been really preoccupied about it. Is Lizzie’s relationship with Darcy going to reflect her relationship with Mr. Collins? Is Darcy about a job offer? I’m a feminist and appreciate the strong feminist vibes the entire cast and crew has taken on so whole-heartedly, but this is also one of my favorite love stories of all time, and I’m really scared of it being something so different.
A: Gosh, I don’t want to keep you scared but this is also the type of question that I generally don’t answer because it would mean spoiling the journey. I’ll just say that I’m sure we could have made the Bingley/Jane infatuation business related if we really wanted to, but we didn’t. Just because we can doesn’t mean we will.
Q: I know you don’t have a hand in this, but with Charlotte gone, is that going to have an effect on the editing style of LBD? Is that a stylistic choice y’all have discussed? Or is that maybe asking a little too much?
A: It’ll be subtle but I’ll say that Lizzie and Charlotte did take a lot of the same classes and the fastest way to learn something is to do it.
Q: Did Lizzie edit and title the Friends Forever episode?
A: Yes or else no one else would have. I think there are what, six cuts in that episode and all of those were made at very clear moments. Lizzie’s editing in that was pretty minimal.
Q: How do you guys feel about some of the really negative comments towards Lizzie after today’s episode? & What do you think of the Lizzie hate?
A: As much as there is Lizzie “hate” there is Lizzie love -
Read these from Thbrogan, ErinWert, CyberShip, Meowriarty, UnchartedLife, and DearlyLoveaLaugh
One of my favorite things about our series is the amount of discussion that happens in the comments. If anything, it makes me wish YouTube had a better comment tracking system (like threading conversations together). Passionate fans are passionate.
Look everyone is entitled to their opinions of our Lizzie, just as I am entitled to agree or disagree with your opinion. A good friend of mine made the comparison that in the 19th century, what Lizzy did probably drew a lot of hateful reactions from the readership then, it’s a different era. I don’t think any of us could REALLY 100 % relate to that society (no technology, poor gender equality, different culture). Just as there’s a generation of young adults now who probably can’t relate to a society without internet.
My interpretation of 1800 Lizzy is that she is vocal, independent, smart, witty, opinionated, headstrong, and prejudicial (her MAJOR flaw). Those are the traits we’ve taken and injected into 2012 Lizzie. Sure you could say 1800 Lizzy had more tact, or was more proper, or wasn’t so emotional, but I don’t think that was because she was naturally, it was because society then demanded her to be. If 1800 society allowed Lizzy to be MORE vocal and MORE independent, I totally think she would be.
When you’re vocal and opinionated you’re bound to rile up counter opinions, it’s inevitable. It happened in P&P and it’s happening and will continue to happen in The LBD. As far as the comments to today’s video (Episode 42), it’s clear that Lizzie’s is very emotionally rattled. When you’re emotionally rattled you’re on edge and any word can set you off. She doesn’t want her friend to leave AND she fully believes her friend is making the wrong choice. When Lizzie thinks something is wrong, she’s vocal (and in this specific moment, extra emotional) about it. That’s Lizzie Bennet.
Q: Are the actors always given body language instructions? Or is it up to them to figure it out past a chosen emotion? Vocal cues,facial expression, strength of voice,eye movement, How do you get your story out in those details.
A: Well it’s not an either or but like a mix of some of those things. On the page, we (the writers) try to give them as much there as we can but not every little detail. Aside from the dialogue it’s pretty general. We want there to be an understanding of what the character is feeling before the scene, during the scene, and at the end of it. That could come in specific actions or from the scene as a whole. I’d like to think that what we are giving them on the page is enough for them to understand what’s going on but not so much that we’re micromanaging every second and every emotional tick. All of our actors for every role has a strong understanding of who their character is and as long as we give them the lines and the direction they can do what great actors do and bring the character to life.
Q: The “Friends Forever" episode differed from other adaptations in how strongly Lizzie responded, basically insisting that Charlotte change her mind, being emotional and argumentative with her, rather than just being shocked and sad. Can you share anything about the thinking that went into crafting Lizzie’s reaction? Who wrote it? Was this a straight Bernie episode? Were Ashley and Julia involved? How much of it was "on the page", vs. being improvised on set? What was the filming like?
A: First the short answers. Every line was on the page, there may have been slight changes in word arrangement but everything you heard from that episode (like most episodes) was on the page. I don’t know what a “straight Bernie episode” really means, but I did write it. I wrote the first draft, and what I wrote evolved through changes as we got notes and rehearsed, just like any other episode of our show.
This episode held a special place in my heart for a very long time, like even before we casted Ashley and Julia. I had a very clear vision as to how I was going to show you this moment and it’s been in my head for literally months (January?), so I guess if there ever has been a “straight Bernie episode” this was as Bernie as it’s going to get.
As you point out, no other adaptation (that I’ve seen) has done this moment of the story with the level of emotion that we put into ours. To me, I always saw it as a missed opportunity with everyone just glazing over this moment. Oh Charlotte’s gone, ‘shock and sad’… like you said.
But to me this is a big moment in Lizzie’s life. This is two best friends with two very different opinions splitting apart, this is character defining. This is a moment that thrusts both their lives forward personally and professionally (marriagely?) so I really wanted to honor and highlight this.
Tangent, I’d like to point out that episode 41 (where Charlotte convinces Collins to offer her the job) is something that no other adaptation does either, even though it’s clearly something Charlotte does in the book.
So back to 42. First the broad emotions, here’s what we know (because we showed it to you).
So going into 42 you first have to leap over the big hurdle of the episode. Why does this critical, emotional scene even happen on camera in the first place? Why is the camera even on?!
Here’s what we can infer happened the minutes before Lizzie turns on the camera in 42.
First: Charlotte has come over to tell Lizzie that she’s taking the job that Lizzie publicly rejected.
Next: Lizzie believes that Charlotte shouldn’t take the job because
You could say the first two are selfless while the third one is selfish. But at the emotional base Lizzie LOVES Charlotte. She’s doing this because of her love for her. Think of any person close to you (parent, sibling, friend) that wants you to do something that you don’t agree with. Do they want you to do it because they hate you? No. They want you to do it because they believe that is what’s best for you. But key point: just because they believe it and/or just because they love you doesn’t mean that they’re right.
So after making her point and having it not work, Lizzie tries something radical; she turns on the camera. Lizzie is trying to use both pressure of the camera/audience and the reminder of this great thing they have (the Lizzie Bennet Diaries) to keep Charlotte from going. Lizzie is also hoping that getting Charlotte to say what she’s doing publicly will make her realize that she’s making a bad choice and make her feel guilty for leaving the show. None of it works.
Realizing that she’s failed, Lizzie turns to anger, and goes off on an ill-advised rant to the audience about what an awful choice Charlotte’s making. This of course leads to Charlotte having to stand up against Lizzie’s attack in which they have that very heated exchange.
Charlotte ends this fight with the ultimate blow saying “All this time, I haven’t been working on MY stuff, I’ve been working ON yours!”. -
Does Charlotte really believe what she said? Probably not, it came out in anger. Does Lizzie believe that Charlotte believes what she said? Yes. Do Lizzie and Charlotte wish they could take back this conversation? Absolutely. - But what’s done is done and our journey continues.
So is this my favorite episode? Yes.
Would it be as awesome as it is without the execution of the cast, support of the crew, and the talented collaboration with the other writers? Definitely not. This episode was a team effort, it was executed by all of us and we’re pretty darn proud of it.
Anyway final nuggets.
1. To date, there have been six different writers that have written episodes of The LBD and I don’t think any of them would classify themselves as traditional comedy writers. We’re all trained in drama and we’re all character focused. Our comedy comes from character.
2. Here’s a screen grab from the last page of the script. You can also click on the image (or this) to go right to this moment. Enjoy!
Sixteen episodes in now. Wow SIXTEEN (17 with that Q&A). That’s 8 weeks of continuous videos with more to come.
Those of you following along in the book will know that we’ve wrapped up chapter 6 and we’ve been here a while. When I was doing my analysis/coverage of the novel, Chapter 6 was rich with great elements and it really felt like we needed to spend some time here covering the events and the characters.
For this BTS, I’d like to focus on Charlotte, cause it’s been a very Charlotte centric week on the show. I know the audience always wants to ask about Bing and Darcy (and now Wickam) but that is all coming. Resources and being locked in from Lizzie’s POV limits us to what she can show us but I’ll say that we will see the other characters.
Now on to topic. I’d like to point out that one of the big thematic changes that I felt needed to happen was that our modernized/contemporary version of the story could not be completely focused on.
Obviously Pride and Prejudice does hyperly focus on those two things given the time period but as I said before, this is a different generation. Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a story about modern women, 2012 women. Women who are striving for higher education and/or career aspirations and/or other goals that are more than just “putting a ring on it”.
Side note: I feel a little embarrassed that it took us 16 episodes to finally pass the bechdel test (where our characters don’t talk about men), but given the source material, it was no easy feat. We also directly adapted a scene from the novel that DOES NOT pass this test and I’ll admit that it wasn’t totally a clean adaptation, but I’m happy we did it. I’m extremely proud of our team, especially Ashley and Julia for drawing out this great episode. - Episode 16
So on to the modern woman, or in this post, the modern Charlotte. In early development (Hank and I talking story) we really wanted to focus on making our characters great. Personally I pushed to really develop Charlotte and bring her into the front of the story (remember she appears in episode 1, she doesn’t appear until chapter 3 of the novel). I think the character is decent in the novel but was really underdeveloped in both the 1995 BBC miniseries and the 2005 Keira Knightly movie. Thus in our series, we pushed to have our Charlotte not only be a “supportive best friend” but really a character that the audience loves to see on screen.
As I like to say the “YAY CHARLOTTE” effect.
Seriously think about every other adaptation (or even the novel) have you ever, EVER, saw Charlotte enter a scene and get excited that she was gonna lay down her “Charlotte-ness”? - Doubt it.
We consciously made our Charlotte a force to be reckoned with. Though they’re best friends, Charlotte directly counters Lizzie’s “prejudicial” opinions to the audience, and she’ll “playfully” embarrass Lizzie openly on her vlog.
Personally I believe that this is (at least in our version) the backbone of their relationship and mutual admiration and respect for each other, which of course sets up what will happen to them in the future as their opinions begin to separate them.
That was funny. I will not affirm nor deny that our Charlotte will do the above. We know what we’re having her do and I hope you enjoy where we take it.
Also be sure to check out Monique’s awesome write up about our Charlotte on her blog.
Have a good weekend everyone and thanks for watching.