Exclusive

Welcome to Sanditon‘s transmedia producer Alexandra Edwards responds to fan criticism of the show, navigating fan expectations from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and more.

There has been some discussion in the Welcome to Sanditon fandom recently that the transmedia elements are overwhelming the plot on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries spinoff. Hypable speaks to transmedia producer Alexandra Edwards about the differences between fan interaction and transmedia, how the Sanditon team balances the abundance of in-character social media accounts, and what exactly a transmedia producer does, anyway.

If you are interested in the intricacies of transmedia, be sure to check out the interview Hypable conducted with Jay Bushman, who was the transmedia producer on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Hypable exclusive interview: Alexandra Edwards

Describe your role on ‘Welcome to Sanditon’ for us

As the transmedia producer, I coordinate all of the transmedia elements of the show—basically everything beyond the webseries videos themselves.

You went from Transmedia Editor on ‘Lizzie Bennet’ to Trandmedia Producer on ‘Welcome to Sanditon’ – what does this mean in layman’s terms?

It’s a really exciting promotion! For LBD, I did a lot of organizational tasks like script breakdowns, maintaining spreadsheets, and the like. But I was also really lucky in that Jay Bushman, our transmedia producer, encouraged me to have creative input as well. So I wrote some Twitter scripts and took charge of certain elements like Gigi’s This is My Jam account.

This time around, I was involved in the creative process from the beginning. We tried to integrate the transmedia with the videos earlier on, so while we were breaking the initial story, we were also thinking of what elements we could include in transmedia. Since I’m on the east coast, I would Skype into writers room meetings and participate that way. I was also asked to write an episode for the series, which is hugely exciting for me.

So far on ‘Sanditon’ we have seen the Domino portal, Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Tumblr, the videos on YouTube and This Is My Jam – how do you find a balance between all of these mediums?

It’s definitely a challenge. After the videos, Twitter is definitely our first and foremost platform. It’s the easiest place for characters to have conversations. But we’ve tried to approach each of the other platforms as if our characters were using them in real life. So Ed might post a video to Reddit that shows the town in a positive light, but he wouldn’t post one there that shows Gigi fighting with the mayor.

I think the trick to balance is to always think about these kinds of character voice decisions. That being said, though, it’s always a work in progress and we’ll probably never feel like we get it totally right 100% of the time.

How has your approach to transmedia been different from ‘Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ to ‘Sanditon’?

A couple of things are different. Like I said before, we thought about what transmedia elements we could bring into the show from the very first meeting in the writers room. We also wanted to try out some new platforms, like Reddit, just to see how those would work.

Aside from that, I do a lot more things in the moment now, rather than always pre-scheduling them. So much of WTS is about interacting with the community that it feels more appropriate to have characters react on Twitter to things in the moment. Like LBD, those Twitter interactions can’t have an immediate effect on the story that’s being told in the videos, but unlike LBD, our characters this time around are more likely and more able to chat with people and really respond to them.

There has been some criticism amongst fans that ‘Welcome to Sanditon’ has become too transmedia based – particularly focusing on the episodes which feature the Domino portal. What is your response to this?

First, I want to distinguish what we consider “transmedia” from the interactive, role-play element of WTS. Those things aren’t the same, at least not in terms of how we approach them, though they do interact with each other quite a bit. We still have the same approach that we did with LBD, only now with an added layer.

So viewers can just watch the videos and get a complete (though much smaller and shorter) story, or they can watch the videos and follow the official transmedia, or they can watch the videos, follow the transmedia, and role-play along. Or, I guess, any combination of those three things.

That being said, what I really hear is people missing Lizzie. And I totally understand that feeling! I think we would have gotten criticism no matter what approach we took—it’s really hard to follow something like LBD, which so many people were so emotionally invested in.

But at the end of the day, I’m still really proud of our work and our community, and I would never want to make a show that asked for fan interaction without showcasing and praising that interaction the way we’re trying to.

Was is difficult dealing with the level of fan expectations coming off ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’?

Definitely. At our first writers room meeting, we talked a lot about when to launch our summer series, and I was adamant that we give fans time to sit with the end of LBD and really feel it. You have to mourn a bit. And I wasn’t the only one who felt that way, of course, which is part of the reason we had about a month and half between shows.

Aside from that, though, we didn’t spend too much time thinking about the negative aspects of that expectation. We approached it more from the perspective of “how can we do something really different and fun with this series?” As a member of the creative team, I think it’s really important that we didn’t approach WTS thinking that we had to live up to the LBD legacy. Because when you start thinking that way, it’s really crippling. So Bernie, Jay, and Margaret were really great at never letting that kind of attitude define what we did.

Were you surprised by the level of fan participation in the roleplaying element?

Yes and no. I knew that our fans were immensely creative, passionate, and energetic, so I had no doubt that they could pitch in and really help create this world in ways that we had never imagined. But I was surprised at how fast it took off, before we even really explained what we had in mind!

Tell us about the process with the two fans who purchased themselves a ‘Sanditon’ character on the ‘Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ kickstarter.

They’ve been really great to work with. We asked them to give us some input into their characters, then we shaped that a bit to fit into our world. But they really run those accounts themselves, and I think they’re both great at it. Sometimes we’ll come to them with the idea for a conversation we want to happen, but we don’t script those for them.

So for instance, when Clara asks Robyn for a book recommendation, the person playing Robyn knew to expect that tweet, but she answered it in her own way. It’s a lot like doing improv, and it’s hugely fun.

Will you be working on the next major series?

I’m not 100% sure yet, but I hope so! Bernie plays things so close to the vest that it’s a bit like being in the CIA. I love that about him, because it means I get to be surprised by my own show, but it also means that I probably won’t know anything for sure until it’s time to start actually doing the work.

Photo credit: Jennifer Hofstetter, courtesy of Alexandra Edwards

Barnes & Noble has announced that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is already a gigantic hit. In fact, it’s the most pre-ordered book since Deathly Hallows.

It’s been 9 years since J.K. Rowling publsihed Deathly Hallows in the summer of 2007, but Harry Potter fans are evidently still eager for more stories from the Wizarding World. In a press release on Monday, the biggest book chain in the United States revealed that they haven’t seen pre-orders this huge since the last Harry Potter book.

deathly-hallows-book-cover

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is Barnes & Noble’s most pre-ordered book since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and we expect it to be our biggest selling book of the year,” said Mary Amicucci, Chief Merchandising Officer at Barnes & Noble in a press release. “To guarantee that our customers get the new Harry Potter book as quickly as possible, Barnes & Noble is the only national retailer that’s guaranteeing delivery of the book on August 1, for both online and ship-to-home pre-orders placed by noon ET on Friday, July 29. Our booksellers are also preparing to host big crowds for our signature Midnight Magic parties on July 30.”

If you’ve passed by a brick and mortar Barnes & Noble in the past few months you’ve probably seen the heavy promotion they’ve been doing. Headers that state “HARRY POTTER IS BACK” will clearly entice people to pre-order.


HARRY POTTER IS BACK! (Spotted at a Barnes & Noble) #harrypotterforever #harrypotter

A photo posted by Hypable.com (@hypable) on

In a report from the Wall Street Journal earlier this month we learned that Scholastic was printing 4.5 million copies of “the eighth story” for the United States and Canada. This is a far cry from the 12 million printed for Deathly Hallows, but still a very large print run for a book in modern times. (Also worth noting: Many readers have switched to eBooks in the years since Deathly Hallows.)

It’s nice to see that Harry Potter fans haven’t lost their interest in the series. Perhaps the success will inspire J.K. Rowling to continue writing within Harry’s world?

The book has also been a huge success on Amazon. The Cursed Child has sat at the top of the online retailer’s bestseller list for months.

Hypable will have lots of coverage surrounding The Cursed Child once it’s released this weekend. Stay tuned! AHHHH!

Sherlock finally made it to Hall H at Comic-Con and the creative team brought a few surprises. Steven Moffatt, Sue Vertue, Mark Gatiss, Amanda Abbington, and Benedict Cumberbatch were on hand to the thrill of fans.

Benedict Cumberbatch and crew definitely know how to work a crowd. Here are the top highlights of the panel that played to a crowd of thousands.

1. Season 4

They are currently two weeks from finishing Sherlock season 4. Cumberbatch said that “a lot comes home to roost this season… it’s ballsy.”

They have 26 pages to film this Tuesday. Cumberbatch states that the monologues are very challenging and take a lot of work.

As for actors’ favorite lines this season:

Gatiss: “Sherlock.”

Abington: Not a line but a beckoning gesture.

Cumberbatch: Can’t say.

Key names for next season (change from doing key words):

  • Moffat: Smith
  • Gatiss: Thatcher
  • Vertue: Sherinford

2. Keeping the show fresh

By not making as many episodes, the creators feel they actually keep the quality. They joked that under normal standards they’ve actually made about half a season of a standard TV show, or 13 episodes.

There are no plans for any other Victorian Era shows. Moffat feels that it would be less interesting if the mind palace returned there.

3. Learning curves and drugs

Gatiss stated that with 90-minute episodes you “really have to put [Sherlock and Watson] through the ringer.” Moffat added that because of this, Watson has to evolve. Watson can’t keep being amazed by Sherlock. As for Sherlock, “he can’t be the weird scary amoral man we met in the first episode… geniuses learn… he has to learn.”

Sherlock’s drug addiction comes back when he is not working. It’s hinted that the addiction will be a bigger issue this season than in the past.

4. The coat and the hair

There is apparently a big debate every year over changing the iconic coat. Sue Vertue wants to change it, and Steven Moffat wants to keep it. Benedict Cumberbatch dove into the debate stating, “I’m quite hung up on the coat…. but sometimes it has to come off.” The audience reaction was predictable.

Cumberbatch joked that he loved playing Sherlock in the Victorian era because of the slicked back hair. In the modern era it takes forever for his hair to get done. On a serious note, he loved the more straight-laced, clipped version of Sherlock.

5. First ‘Sherlock’ season 4 trailer

The teaser trailer featured this phrase over and over: “Something’s coming. It may be Moriarity, maybe not.” Literally every character we know and love looks like they are scared, angry, or worried on an epic scale.

One of the best moments is Mrs. Hudson saying with supreme venom to Mycroft, “Get out of my house you reptile.” Watch below:

6. Improv and family

There is actually, according to Cumberbatch, very little improvisation on set. It’s about how to do what’s there, and not messing with the script. He firmly believes that what is there is what is needed for the show.

Cumberbatch genuinely loves having his mom and dad play his TV mom and dad. Every now and then he can see his mother struggle to call him “Sherlock” and not “Ben.”

7. Mary in the know

Abbington didn’t know she was an assassin until well into the last season. When she found out, she told partner Martin Freeman, “My God, [the fans] are going to hate me.” Despite this, she loves the flawed characters of the series.

8. When will the series return?

No date was given for either the BBC release date or the PBS release date. We only know that it will premiere in 2017.

9. The dog photo

According to Cumberbatch the dog (depicted above) was a nightmare. “The dog wouldn’t fucking move,” he said. The companion was supposed to drag Sherlock all over London, but the dog didn’t like people, concrete, crowds… really anything about an urban setting.

Moffat and Gatiss resorted to writing a new scene on the spot to account for the lack of the dog’s interest in roaming. According to Gatiss all it did was drool on the concrete.

10. Future seasons?

Touching on the future of the series, Moffat stated, “Why is everybody assuming they survive season 4?” Gatiss joked, “We’re skipping season 5 and doing season 6.”

Moffat clarified that — contrary to recent reports — he never said that this season would be the last one (He’s right: All he said was the schedules of Cumberbatch and Freeman are only getting more difficult to work with). Gatiss added that they want to do more seasons, and they hope that they are able to.

Sherlock will be back in 2017. What do you think of the first season 4 trailer?

Marvel presented at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday evening and offered new looks at Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and more.

“We only want to come to Hall H when we have a lot to show you,” teased Marvel’s Kevin Feige at the start of the panel. Indeed, they had a ton to offer — including news of a new Marvel theme park attraction!

Everything we’ve learned at Marvel’s SDCC panel

  1. Marvel kicked off their panel with a new logo and updated fanfare by composer Michael Giacchino.

  2. Black Panther had some casting news to share: Lupita N’yongo will be playing one of the guards at Wakanda named Nakia. Meanwhile, Michael B. Jordan will be playing Erik Killmonger. We also received brand new casting news: Danai Gurira has joined the movie — She’ll play Okoye, head of Dora Milaje! Finally, a new logo for the film was revealed:

    black-panther-logo-sdcc-2016

  3. Thor: Ragnarok unveiled a behind-the-scenes look at the new film which included a look at Cate Blanchett as Hela. They also showed a documentary-style clip (think The Office) explaining where Hulk and Thor were during the events of Captain America: Civil War! In it, Thor had a tiny bed for Mjolnir and a crime board that tried to connect the Infinity Stones and discover their purpose. There is also mugshot of Loki. Like Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok had a new logo to show off with a retro looking subtitle:

    thor-ragnorak-new-logo-sdcc-2016

  4. Doctor Strange’s portion of the panel kicked off with a smoke and laser show to introduce Benedict Cumberbatch.

    Tilda Swinton was also at the panel and spoke about the Ancient One. “The truth is, anyone can be The Ancient One,” she said. A clip from Doctor Strange was also showed in which Steven Strange meets Tilda’s character (It won’t be online).

  5. Thankfully, a brand new and wholly epic Doctor Strange trailer was released. Watch below:

    A new poster was also unveiled:

    doctor-strange-sdcc-poster

  6. Next up was Spider-Man: Homecoming. Director Jon Watts described the film as a high school movie about a 15-year-old Peter Parker who’s in the 10th grade. A new clip was unveiled and had a strong John Hughes vibe — Peter Parker is just your average high schooler trying to get through the day. There was also this great moment:

  7. Next up: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which kicks off a few months after the first movie. The entire cast was there to introduce a new scene in which a very adorable Baby Groot helps Yondu and Rocket break out of prison. Baby Groot even has a little outfit! Adorably, the Ravengers — who captured Yondu and Rocket — refuse to hurt Baby Groot because of how cute he is.

    This movie got a new logo as well.

    guardians-of-the-galaxy-sequel-new-logo

  8. Speaking of Marvel’s space dramedy, the studio also confirmed rumors of a Guardians of the Galaxy theme park attraction. It’s called Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! and debuts Summer 2017 at Disneyland’s California Adventure theme park. Sadly, it’s replacing the classic Tower of Terror ride. Check out a behind the scenes video of the attraction:

  9. Marvel ended their panel by confirming that Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel, as was previously rumored. She took the stage to say hi to the adoring audience, and participated in a giant Marvel selfie:

All in all, Marvel had a ton to share. What do you think of all the developments?