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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

The upcoming 25th anniversary edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes a couple of first looks at next year’s live-action adaptation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a quarter of a century since the animated Beauty and the Beast hit movie theaters. To celebrate the occasion Disney is putting out an anniversary edition, and its special features section includes a treat: Our first look at Cogsworth and Lumière in the live-action installment, as well as a glimpse of a scene within Gaston’s tavern.

As confirmed by producer Jack Morrissey on Facebook, this photo of Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor) is concept art, but it gives us a sense of the style that director Bill Condon is shooting for:

Read full article

The upcoming 25th anniversary edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes a couple of first looks at next year’s live-action adaptation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a quarter of a century since the animated Beauty and the Beast hit movie theaters. To celebrate the occasion Disney is putting out an anniversary edition, and its special features section includes a treat: Our first look at Cogsworth and Lumière in the live-action installment, as well as a glimpse of a scene within Gaston’s tavern.

As confirmed by producer Jack Morrissey on Facebook, this photo of Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor) is concept art, but it gives us a sense of the style that director Bill Condon is shooting for:

cogsworth-lumiere-live-action-beauty-and-the-beast

While it’s nice to finally see a glimpse of a couple of the characters, a big question remains unanswered: How will these objects look once they have faces on them? (Cogsworth’s face might be hinted at in the center of the clock.)

Also on the Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition is a shot from the the “Gaston” musical number. From left to right we see Alexis Loizon as Stanley, Josh Gad as LeFou (just over Gaston’s shoulder), and Luke Evans (with his back to the camera) as Gaston.

live-action-beauty-and-the-beast-gaston

Update: And here’s another look at the movie, courtesy of this person on Twitter — this time we get to see Dan Stevens as human Beast!

human-beast-dan-stevens

We’ll be curious to get our hands on the anniversary edition in September, because we expect we’ll see more from the new movie than the two stills above.

Disney released the first trailer for the live-action Beauty and the Beast in May. It was very much a teaser trailer, as it didn’t provide any looks at the characters — except Belle (Emma Watson), appearing through the glass casing protecting the film’s iconic rose.

In fact, the trailer’s first looks at the various settings (Namely the Beast’s castle) fell in line with the visual style we see in the above concept art.

Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens hit theaters March 17, 2017.

Apple — always one to push the boundaries by simplifying their products as much as possible — is reportedly looking to remove the all-important Home button in next year’s new iPhone.

Apple loves making their products as simple as possible. The iPod was a success because of how clean it looked compared to other MP3 players. With Apple TV, Steve Jobs bragged about how few buttons the device’s remote had.

But since 2007, every new iPhone has had the same number of physical buttons, switches, and ports: A ringer switch, a lock button, volume up/down buttons, a USB port, and a headphone jack.

Read full article

Apple — always one to push the boundaries by simplifying their products as much as possible — is reportedly looking to remove the all-important Home button in next year’s new iPhone.

Apple loves making their products as simple as possible. The iPod was a success because of how clean it looked compared to other MP3 players. With Apple TV, Steve Jobs bragged about how few buttons the device’s remote had.

But since 2007, every new iPhone has had the same number of physical buttons, switches, and ports: A ringer switch, a lock button, volume up/down buttons, a USB port, and a headphone jack.

That changes next month, when Apple is expected to announce that the iPhone 7 will be lacking a headphone jack. Instead, users will be listening to music via the Lightning port (which you currently use to charge and sync your iPhone).

And for 2017, Apple will reportedly go one step further by removing the Home button.

Ah, the Home button. It’s always been there for us — it’s our captain for navigating the iPhone. We use it to switch between apps, we use it to get to our Home screen, we use it to summon Siri, and we use it to read our finger print. Back in the “old days,” we used it to force quit apps when they froze on us.

In a new report, Bloomberg says Apple is planning to remove the Home button for the 2017 iPhone, which will presumably be called iPhone 7s. It’s billed as a “major redesign of the iPhone for 2017 that focuses more heavily on the display.”

Previous rumor mill reports have suggested that Apple will ditch the Home button in order to decrease the size of the top top and bottom bezels, thereby making the phone not as tall, or using the freed up space to add more screen.

Here’s a mock up of what that could look like, via TapSmart:

borderlessmockup1

What remains unclear is how users will be able to unlock and navigate their iPhone without the Home button. Reports have suggested that the whole screen will serve as a TouchID surface and a Home button (using the 3D Touch feature Apple launched last year).

Interestingly, next month’s release of iOS 10 will introduce a new way to unlock your iPhone: You’ll have to press down on the Home button to activate an unlocking. Previously, all you had to do was rest your finger on the Home button while your lock screen was awake.

Disney is making another live-action movie, and this time it’s James and the Giant Peach, to be developed by Director Sam Mendes.

To refresh your memory, James and the Giant Peach is the terrifying delightful children’s movie directed by Henry Selick and based off of the Roald Dahl story. It features nightmare-inducing adorable stop-motion animated bugs that helped James float away from his mean aunts in a — you guessed it — giant peach.

The original film was an interesting mix of live-action characters in the beginning and at the end, with stop-motion animated sequences throughout the middle.

Read full article

Disney is making another live-action movie, and this time it’s James and the Giant Peach, to be developed by Director Sam Mendes.

To refresh your memory, James and the Giant Peach is the terrifying delightful children’s movie directed by Henry Selick and based off of the Roald Dahl story. It features nightmare-inducing adorable stop-motion animated bugs that helped James float away from his mean aunts in a — you guessed it — giant peach.

The original film was an interesting mix of live-action characters in the beginning and at the end, with stop-motion animated sequences throughout the middle.

Now, according to Deadline, Disney is developing an all-live-action remake of the film. Nick Hornby will write the script, while Joe Roth is in negotiations to sign on as a producer.

If Mendes’ name sounds familiar, it’s because he directed the last two James Bond features, both Skyfall and Spectre, as well as 1999’s American Beauty.

You can check out the trailer for the horrifying original film below:

As of late, Disney has been announcing live-action versions of its properties left and right, including The Nutcracker (which has a huge cast of well-known actors), The Little Mermaid (with Lin-Manuel Miranda attached to help write the music), Beauty and the Beast (starring Emma Watson), and Cruella (starring Emma Stone), among others.

With the amount of remakes — especially in the live-action department — it’s no wonder James and the giant Peach is the latest to be announced.

Do you want to see a live-action ‘James and the Giant Peach’ movie?