Jenni Powell (The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries) - Emmy Award Winning Producer AMA


(Jenni Powell) #1

Hi, I’m Jenni and I’m so happy to be here with you! Here is a little about me:

Jenni Powell is the Emmy Award-winning producer of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Welcome to Sanditon, lonelygirl15, Emma Approved and The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy. For two years she was Director of Content and Social Media for VidCon and was a producer at Felicia Day’s YouTube Premium Channel Geek & Sundry, where she produced the Geekie Award-Winning Talkin’ Comics Weekly. Most recently, she was Head of Production for NewMediaRockstars before founding Discourse Productions. She also teaches New Media, Transmedia, Emerging Formats, and Discipline and Methodology at the New York Film Academy (LA Campus). She doesn’t have a lot of free time.

You can ask me about:
-Producing Digital Content
-Transmedia
-Screenwriting
-Reality TV (both academically and as a fan)
-Goal-Setting and Achievement Techniques
-Organizing and Running Sets
-My adorable dog (his name is Cash)


We've got an AMA for that!
(Bri Castellini) #2

Thank you SO MUCH for being here today! First up, how did you first get involved with film and television, and did you always want to be in the industry?


(Aubrey Johnson) #3

What are the differences and similiarities of running transmedia for a webseries and social media for a company? How do you stay organized?


(Meg Carroway) #4

Holy crap- HUGE FAN!! Thank you so much for being here today!!! How did you get involved with web series as a format, and why were you drawn to them?


(Chelsey Saatkamp) #5

Hi Jenni! Big fan of your work! I was wondering about what new media trends you’re seeing and what you think the future of transmedia will be. I’ve been getting the sense that some social media platforms are less popular than they used to be, while with others it can be hard to break into. What’s your advice for keeping up? Thanks!


(Jenni Powell) #6

Excellent question! I was acting since high school and originally thought that was what I’d like to do but after high school, I wasn’t yet ready to jump into LA or NY and go for it so I enrolled at San Diego State University (I grew up in SD and both my parents had gone there), where I ended up completely changing gears and did a Psychology degree. I then taught sex education for a few years and started a Master’s Degree in Social Psychology. But then realized I’d spent many years moving away from acting and the arts, which I still had a real passion for.

So I quit my Master’s Program and moved to LA. I started doing a lot of theater and extra work on film and television…just trying to learn what sets were like and such since I didn’t have a film school background. I acted on a lot of student films and the nice thing about student film shoots is they’ll let you help out in other areas (you’d never be able to do this on union film and TV programs), so I really learned running sets and such from doing that. It was then I realized that what I was doing was Producing, and focuses all my energy in doing that.

My first producing experience was actually in Reality TV. This was about 12 years ago, right about when YouTube was getting off it’s feet. I started watching a lot of vloggers and such and then discovered lonelygirl15. Once I realized you could use online platforms to tell narrative stories I was hooked and the rest is history!


(Jaime Lancaster) #7

That is all so cool!!! I’m hoping to be a producer too! As a producer, what duties tend to fall to you? I know in web series and really all of indie film, lines can get blurry that aren’t usually blurry in larger productions. :slight_smile:


(Jenni Powell) #8

Well, when you’re talking about creating fictional social media stories for your project, then it’s very similar. Except that usually, instead of just running one account for your company, you’re usually running many accounts for different characters, so the challenge is making sure each character has their own voice and that you as the creator are keeping true to each of their voices.

As for staying organized, HootSuite is a wonderful tool for organizing your posts ahead and time and scheduling them. But you don’t want to become overly reliant on scheduled posts because you also want to be sure you are live interacting as well. That is what the fans are there for…that direct interaction. So you always have to be sure you’re balancing giving them that and not burning yourself out.

Also, don’t feel like you have to do it all yourself! Find creatives you trust to run some of the accounts. It also helps in keeping each character’s voice distinct.


(Jenni Powell) #9

It was lonelygirl15 that drew me into web series. Once I saw you could create these highly engaging storyworlds, I was totally hooked.

And thank you so much for being a fan, that makes my heart grow three sizes. I really appreciate it!


(Meg Carroway) #10

I’m like trying not to SQUEE that you’re here right now! :slight_smile:

Since you’ve worked on projects with a variety of budgets- any advice you can give to low/no budget filmmakers hoping to follow in your footsteps?


(Bri Castellini) #11

What are some mistakes people make when adding transmedia elements to their series? How can they fix them or use transmedia to its highest potential?


(Abby Singer) #12

Hey Jenni! Thanks for doing this! I’m a huge fan of the web series you’ve worked on - they’re AWESOME.

I’m a year into the beginning of my career in reality TV, hoping to work as a reality TV producer in the long term! I just got promoted from an assistant position into Story AP in post on one of our shows.

In light of that, I’m wondering if you have any advice for working in this industry? How did you become a producer? Why do you like working in reality TV? Just looking to pick your brain on that stuff :slight_smile:

THANK YOU in advance!


(Blair Hunter) #13

Hi Jenni! I know every other person has said this, but I am honestly a huge fan. Thank you so much for bringing all these amazing stories to life. Pemberly Digital made me want to make web series.

I had a question about building an audience- in your opinion, what’s the best way to grow an audience, especially from the ground up? What are some practical ways we can start, right now, whether we have a show completed and released or not?


(Andrew Williams) #14

How old is Cash, and what kind of dog is he?

(Also, can you talk about writing/producing on a micro budget. Do the ideas tend to always start “more producible” or have you had any luck scaling back ideas to fit better with a chosen format/budget?)


(Jenni Powell) #15

It’s interesting, I was just at the International Academy of Web Television Awards last night (had a few nominations…humble brag) and the quality in terms of production values you’re able to achieve now is absolutely astounding and wonderful. Also, in the past, it seemed that Comedy was much easier to break-out on the web than drama but last night, the show that took the most trophies was an Australian-produced Drama called Jade of Death. So the possibilities in the field are continuing to widen. Like, it used to be you’d never even thing about doing a series with episodes longer than 3 - 7 minutes but that is definitely not true anymore.

I will say in terms of social media platforms, that smart way to look at it if you want to make a career out of transmedia storytelling is to pay attention on who is buying content. SnapChat and Facebook both are investing, so looking at ways to use those platforms for storytelling is a good bet. If you do have interest in looking at how scripted content can work on SnapChat, look at the project “Sickhouse”…it was a horror feature played out entirely on SnapChat.


(Chelsey Saatkamp) #16

Thanks! And huge congrats on the IAWTV noms!


(Bri Castellini) #17

Piggy-backing off of this- For aspiring writers and actors and filmmakers in the digital realm, both those who do transmedia and those who stick to traditional (whatever that means) video episodes to tell their story, what advice could you give about making it a permanent career versus an expensive hobby?


(Jenni Powell) #18

Yes, it’s definitely “blurry”. For me, the type of producing I’m doing is more on the creative end. I like to be there from the scripting phase so that I can be already making a plan for what we’re going to need in terms of locations, props, crew, etc. etc. and I can be giving feedback on things that maybe aren’t going to be doable from a production and budget standpoint. It’s a fine line because my job is not to take away from the creative’s vision but to enhance it by keeping in mind what is truly possible.

I actually love that digital media production as well as indie production is so “blurry” and I think it’s a major reason it was so compelling to me as a career choice. I understand why Unions exist and they are very very important but on large film and TV projects, every job is so very specific and you can only do the direct tasks outlined in that job. I like to be able to float around and do many things.


(Sunny Larkson) #19

OMIGOSH HI!!! This is so cool that you’re here!! Will Pemberly Digital will make a new show ever? What about a reunion, like how Lizzie and Darcy checked in a year after that was over?


(Pablo Andreu) #20

Hi Jenni, I’m a longtime writer but a newbie screenwriter with a newish web series. Can web series be parlayed into larger screenwriting opportunities? What might that path look like?