AMA with Bernie Su!

(Bernie Su) #1

Bernie Su is a two-time Primetime Emmy award-winning interactive storyteller, creator, and showrunner. He co-created The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a ground breaking interactive adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The series spawned 70 million views across 160 videos and 35 social media accounts. It won the first Primetime Emmy Award for a YouTube distributed series and was adapted into a novel, thus making it the first novel based on a web series based on a novel.

He won his second Emmy for Emma Approved, an interactive re-imagination of another Austen novel, Emma. This grand series spanned five media platforms, featuring a video series, fashion blog, music experience, and social media interactivity. The series featured partnerships with Samsung, Modcloth, and Nordstroms.

The franchise has also recently released an interactive mobile gaming experience through the Moment: Stories App where players can be a part of Emma’s world.

Available on
Android -

Though starting in Hollywood with dreams of being a TV showrunner, Bernie has completely focused on stories on the web and has been making webseries for almost 10 years and continues to try to push how storytelling on the web can evolve. Though he has credits on over 10 different webseries and two Primetime Emmys, he has no interest developing a traditional TV show nor feature film.

Somethings you can ask me about!

  • Writing (and the transition from long form to short form)
  • Transmedia / Social / Multi-platform storytelling
  • Selling into traditional TV/Film
  • Audience Building
  • Interactive Formats
  • Emma Approved / The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and the Literary Web Series format
THURSDAY! Bernie Su AMA right here on Stareable!
(Bri Castellini) #2

Thanks for being here today, Bernie! First question- when in your life did you decide you wanted to be a filmmaker/screenwriter? Was it from childhood, or something that came to you in college, or somewhere in between?

(Bri Castellini) #3

@alwaysafilmgeek @ghettonerdgirl @OSTSG @barbaramcthomas @afbarbag @dj_tilney @ronVceo @movieguyjon @mintypineapple @SnobbyRobot @filmwritr4 @idgafwebseries @ZackMorrison18 @mkatiehunter @DarekKowal @Brad_Riddell @RDRICCI @Offbeat @whoisjonporter @jonathankyall @JonSosis @shrutesnladders @Ian_David_Diaz @mdec24 @RobbieRuviews @OddLantern @floorthirteen @solostinlost @w-e-spear @olga_markovic @cec263 @Halen_Williamson @tastewithkevin @danielmhart @sandwich_fam @travisgrossi

(Bri Castellini) #4

Qs from Blair! Feel free to answer one at a time or all at once!

1 Like
(Bri Castellini) #5

Qs from @meena!

1 Like
(Anna Bateman) #6

Wow this is AWESOME! I asked this in another thread but I’m curious your thoughts Bernie… do you have advice on test screenings? When is too early to do them/ too late? How to organize them?

(Bri Castellini) #7

Final Q from the pre-thread :slight_smile:

(Bernie Su) #8

Screenwriter… It was actually after college. Then I realized I wanted to be in TV. (still not in TV)… but my interest in entertainment started in high school. Video projects were always the most fun for me in school!

(Sunny Larkson) #9

I’m SO EXCITEDDDD!!! ok ok so how did you guys plan your series? What came first, and how did you weave transmedia in? What did your outlines look like?!

(Hannah Bowe) #10

Hi Bernie! In one of your blog posts several years back, you recommended reading The Art of Immersion by Frank Rose. As a huge fan of your work and of LBD, I bought the book right away. I have read it several times over the years and it has become one of my all time favorites. It inspired me to double major in Mass Communications in college! However, I have never found another book with a similar subject matter. Do you have any more recommendations for books about transmedia and storytelling?

(Chris Hadley) #11

Hey Bernie! Thanks so much for joining us here, and for sharing your knowledge on web series production with us!

Based on your experiences, how can web series creators reach financial sustainability on their projects - especially if it doesn’t fit the typical TV time format (1 hr/half hour)?

(Bernie Su) #12

Great question. I believe in private test screenings. But there are a lot of variables on whether or not you need them. For example if you’ve made a 4 x 5 minute episodes of a webseries, sitting a bunch of people down in a quiet room and “testing” the full 20 for them when you have their undivided attention is a totally different experience then sending them the links privately and having them try to watch them on their desktop while they’re being hit with facebook notifications.

Btw, I believe in testing for the 2nd more than the first… how often are people watching new shows with undivided attention these days?

(Joseph Steven Heath) #13

Has there been any instances of the interactivity of your projects vastly changing the direction of the narrative? Or just affecting the story in ways you weren’t expecting?

(Chris Hadley) #14

And what tips do you have on writing for web series - both in character development, and for any show that has multiple storylines (say, a drama)?

(Anna Bateman) #15

Thanks!! So you think testings via email/digitally are better for web series than an in person screening? (mine upcoming is for a short film but I’m hoping to make a web series next!)

(sam lockie-waring) #16

hey man i remember seeing your first series ‘compulsions’ a while back. cool listening to you talk about it on the stareable podcast too, and i was curious how you went about actually getting eyes on it way back when. did you buy ad space anywhere? or send email queries to folks?

(Marc L) #17

Hello Bernie. I am a big fan of your work and as an actor I am curious if when casting for a vlogging web series you are looking for different things than in a traditionally filmed one?

(Bernie Su) #18

APP Partnership
I was approached by AVM / Moments earlier this year about the opportunity. I was connected by a mutual friend. They didn’t ask about Emma Approved, I just offered it to them because I thought it would be way cooler to extend that story into an interactive gamified format. Also a cool challenge.

Joanna, the Brents, and Dayeanne are all involved. They didn’t have to be, but I wanted them to be (obviously) and they wanted to be… so here we all are! With hopefully more to come!

More PD
Well we just spent a ton of resources building this experience, and I’d definitely qualify this as a Pemberley Digital Project, the same way I’d qualify Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet as it’s own projects, it’s not a video series perhaps… but it sure takes a ton of work.

Anyway, to the specifics of what I think you’re asking Blair, will there be a new VIDEO series anytime soon? - I would love there to be one. And we kinda have to see how the response is for this App experience. (Not fully dependent)… but we did literally do an Emma Sequel AND a Persusaion prequel in the same project… so obviously there are places to go and things for us to do.

(Meg Carroway) #19

Is there a kind of multi-platform or unusual storytelling that you haven’t done yet but really want to?

(Chris Hadley) #20

As a writer, what do you do when you’re having trouble coming up with ideas or even lines of dialogue?