We’re less than 12 hours away from the final Lizzie Bennet Diaries (GAH) but not the final Lizzie Bennet Diaries LeakyNews post. No. Not by a long shot. Today we start with part one of (probably) four pieces of a lengthy interview we conducted with Bernie Su, Margaret Dunlap, and Rachel Kiley, three of the creators of the show. We reminisced about the entire series, the high water marks, the fandom explosion, the bits that almost didn’t make it in, the bobs that didn’t. We talked about what they thought made the show so popular, and a little bit about what’s going to happen next.
LeakyNews: Tell me about the moment this happened, this came together.
Bernie Su: The exact moment, the genesis, was March 2011 and the event was the Digitour preview event at Google headquarters. The Digitour was a music tour with these YouTuber artists. DeStorm, Dave Days, etc. And they were doing this preview event at Google HQ and I was in the area at the time so I went. Hank [Green, series creator and Vlogbrother] was flown in because they wanted to bring in all these YouTube people to experience and promote it and such.
I didn’t really know who he was, I knew of him. I basically sat next to him in a conference room and watched him edit a video he shot that day. Later that night we got to talk when we were doing the after party drinks and dinner thing. Instead of hanging out with everybody else, we started talking. I said I was a screenwriter, he [asked] for what. “For web video, primarily!” And then he was like, “well, I’ve been trying to figure out how to do this thing..” That’s when it started.
It became more of me geeing out as a storyteller going, is this possible? How would you do it? Not, we’re going to work together for the next year to whatever it is we’ve been together on this project. Afterward it became, do you want to do this together? Him asking me. So we had to play that whole song and dance out.
LN: Was the idea fully formed?
BS:No, first it was the idea of, “Can you tell a novel as a video series? As a vlog series?” And it was like, why can’t you do that? Then it became a question of which story. He wanted Pride and Prejudice off the bat. We didn’t know if it was going to be one character blogging, we didn’t know if it was going to be period or not, we didn’t know a lot of things. That was very much at the base base base level of the concept of, can you tell a novel as a youtube series?
LN: Can you remember anything about that process of figuring things out that you ditched that almost became part of the series? Is there any part that came really close to being very different than the final result?
BS:In the beginning Hank, I think, was bringing up the idea of having multiple characters vlog from the start. We did do that eventually but I mean, having Darcy vlog, and having Bing Lee vlog from day one, and I looked at that and said that sounds cool but that’s a lot of work.
The period was actually considered for longer than you’d think it would be. It was because one, where does the camera exist in 1813, and two, the expense. The idea that you have to get all these sets and props. And even though it’s one room, you have to get all that stuff, to sell it. Those are the two that I remember pretty early, that we could comically look back at now but they were actually seriously considered.