Lizzie Bennet Diaries showrunner Bernie Su speaks to Hypable in the second half of our exclusive interview.
In part two of our interview, Bernie Su discusses (and teases) Lizzie Bennet Diaries spinoff series Welcome to Sanditon and the next major book adaptation. Plus, what special features can fans expect on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries DVD (can you say, deleted scenes?) and more.
Hypable’s interview with Bernie Su:
Hypable: How and why was Sanditon chosen as the next series?
Bernie Su: We knew Lizzie Bennet was going to end, and we realised it was going to take time to adapt the new full novel – it was going to take months, at the minimum. For YouTube, you’re not supposed to not have content for months, you’re supposed to have content constantly, so the idea was the find this balance of taking a little bit of a breather, to let people mourn the loss of Lizzie Bennet.
We wanted to give people some bridge content – that’s what we are calling it internally, the “bridge series” – to bridge us between book 1 and book 2. So it became, “Alright guys” to the writing team, “What are we going to do? Can we send someone on an adventure?” I was pretty fixated on using Gigi, because Gigi is just so beloved in our universe that we built, and also she made the most sense because not only is she such a charismatic character in our world, she’s also furthest away from the Bennets as possible.
Even though Lydia could be more beloved in many ways, you can’t send Lydia off and not connect it to Lizzie directly. You could send Charlotte off, but just based on the Maria spinoffs I don’t know if Charlotte the character can headline, can drive a narrative. I don’t know, I’m not saying she can’t, it just didn’t seem like it was quite there in that spinoff. So then it was like, “What’s the adventure? What does she do? Is she going to solve a crime?”
I think that would be great.
Going back to my fanfiction imagination for the great Gigi Darcy. So then Jay [Bushman] came up to me a few days later, and was like, “I have an idea.” And I said, “Yeah, tell me,” and he goes, “Well Jane Austen, before she died, she was working on a manuscript called Sanditon. It’s about a young girl who goes to this town called Sanditon and deals with all the crazy personalities there.” I believe Jay used the word “plucky” to describe Charlotte Heywood, the main character, and I was like, “Well we could make that work.”
So then it became, “Everybody read Sanditon now!” to make sure that it was possible. It just made sense, there’s the idea of it and there’s the execution of it, and they’re two different things. The idea comes first of course, and there’s the business side and the creative side. The business side is talking to Hank, and Deca – our partners who help give us resources to do what we want to do. It becomes “Alright, this is what we’re going to do for bridge content,” and it became a very easy sell. They were like, “Totally, awesome idea, amazing, go do it!”
The tricky thing about Sanditon is because it’s unfinished, and I almost feel bad for the people who are reading it, there’s not really a story there, it’s just a bunch of setup.
“We’re not going to try to finish the book for Jane Austen, we’re going to construct the world.”
We’re going to tell a story, we have stories, but we’re not saying that the story we’re going to be telling is what Jane Austen intended, because no one knows.
So we’re just going to try and construct the world that Jane Austen constructed, in a modern version, which I think is brilliant. I say that because Jay is a transmedia guy, he’s a prolific transmedia person, and so I’m really curious to see what he and Alex [Edwards] and Margaret [Dunlap] and the team come up with. I can put in my ideas, but I’m trying to stay very hands off on it, because I want to be the observer, even though I’m directing.
We were doing location scouting yesterday, going around to places like, “Okay, is this a character’s office that we need? Is this someone’s store front that we need?” So it’s not just ‘girl in room,’ like we did with Lizzie Bennet. We have that as a base, but this is more like the Gigi spinoff than it is Lizzie Bennet. It’s Gigi in one spot, and stuff happening on screens. We’re planning on being not so tight and close-framed like we were with Darcy and Fitz and Wickham in the Gigi spinoff, we’re going to open it up a bit so you can see more of the spaces.
— Bernie Su (@BernieSu) April 1, 2013
Well, we’re going to try. I don’t know if it’s going to work, but we’re going to try. So that’s what we just did, and now scripts are coming in and we’re doing auditions of course, because we have to shoot this thing soon if we want to have it come out in May like we promised. All these things are coming together very quickly, and it’s very exciting.