04 3 / 2013
Fiel of Elision Magazine asked a LOT of questions so many that I had to cut a couple out. They were too hard.
During the development stages, did you have any inhibitions or doubts towards launching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries? How so?
Oh sure…I mean, it wasn’t cheap. I laid down a fair hunk of money working with a guy that I had met in real life a total of two times. But I’ve spent enough time telling other people that you just gotta bite the bullet and do stuff or your un-made ideas will eat your soul until you are an expert in Gossip Girl trivia that I couldn’t not do it.
How did you decide which elements to stay faithful to in the original text and which to alter for adaptation and modernization purposes?
The first thing we had to preserve was the characters and the relationships between them because people are the same no matter what year you’re living in. There are still Wickhams, and Darcys, and Lydias, and Lizzies, and there will continue to be people like those people until there aren’t people anymore.
But a lot of the tension was hard to create in a world where a woman has a lot more options than they did in the original Lizzy’s time. So we had to make alterations to the circumstances. In fact, I sometimes wish we’d made more alterations.
Now that YouTube has become a medium through which an adaptation of a classic novel could be done, are there any more unconventional methods and media you can think of that can serve the same purpose?
That wasn’t enough for you!? P&P has been adapted into a graphic novel already, actually…but that’s something that I’d like to see happen with more books. But, in general, I know about video blogs…that’s my wheelhouse, that’s the topic that I am an expert on, and I’m happy with that being my thing.
I’ll leave the other things to the other people.
How did the team go about writing and planning the unraveling of Lydia in the hands of George Wickham? Was it important to you that Lydia’s story be told?
The Wickham plot line was worked out pretty early in the show. There were a couple writers who wanted to go a different direction, but as soon as I had the idea of a sex tape in my head, I knew that was the most analogous thing we were going to find. Because we weren’t looking for something that was just life-altering (like pregnancy) but also something that would be shameful for the family (which pregnancy (in a good family at least) would not be.)
As for Lydia’s story being told…one of my favorite things about this project is that we’ve had time to get deeper into our characters than most adaptations do. So we can create a lot more depth, and providing that depth to Lydia was important for us and really rewarding (I think) for the viewers.
Having been written during a time when male domination is more perceptible, Pride & Prejudice was still successfully able to employ a strong female character with her own beliefs and actions. Years and years later, how important would you say it is that more powerful women in fiction should exist?
Lots of scholars have argued that Austen and her contemporaries actually were writing subversive, feminist novels, but that they had to hide those themes under a veneer to make them acceptable. I agree, I think that Jane Austen was an important figure in the fight for equality for women that continues today. Powerful women should, of course, exist in fiction just as they exist in reality.
As a follow-up, how did you make each female character in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries prominent and an example of “girl power” in her own way?
Different things motivate different characters, but they all go after the things they care about. Lizzie is going after her dream of making fascinating content and not being a slave to her work life or her love life. Lydia can’t imagine losing her freedom to anything at all, a dangerous way to behave. Jane goes after Bing. Charlotte wants security and finds it at Collins and Collins.
Could you tell us any funny or unforgettable stories during filming?
Unfortunately, I have only been present for the filming of Lizzie Bennet one time, during VidCon. I did film a scene with Ashley, which eventually made it into an episode that was SUPER HARD AND AWKWARD AND I AM A TERRIBLE ACTOR!
What has been your favorite episode so far in the whole series?
Oh definitely “Are You Kidding Me!?" That’s the one we worked on the most. And the one I anticipated the most, and was most afraid of, and it’s my favorite scene in pretty much every other version of P&P so…yeah.
What would your opinion be if ever an adaptation were to exist wherein the normally heterosexual characters were to become homosexual? If Catherine fell in love with a Heather, perhaps, or the Duke of Orsino were to choose the real Sebastian instead?
I think that only works if you make the original love interest the same gender to start with. Like if Darcy were a woman…which, I think…very briefly…we discussed as a possibility at the beginning of this project. But changing the character that the lead falls in love with changes the story in a very deep way…in my opinion, much more deeply than changing the gender of any of the characters.
What do you hope the legacy of the web series will be?
Deep down, I harbor a hope that people are talking about it 50 years from now as an important project in a long line of really cool internet-based, first-person fiction projects that become a normal way to tell stories. But that seems like a lot to hope for.
If the LBD theme song were to have lyrics, can you give us a sample of how it would go?
Oh…I wrote that a long time ago, it goes “When Lizzie Talks she doesn’t know how much she says.”
Finally, just how swoony will Lizzie and Darcy’s first kiss actually be?
Mmmmm…I am a grown man, I do not swoon. (very)
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