Lonelygirl's Resistance Isn't Futile, Explains LG15's Fialkov

Illustration for article titled Lonelygirl's Resistance Isn't Futile, Explains LG15's Fialkov

If you thought that lonelygirl15 was just about one girl boring MySpace to death about her so-called life, then think again; the insanely-popular webseries was just the start of a science fiction franchise about hidden genetic codes to eternal life. It already spawned a British spin-off, KateModern. This month saw the launch of the franchise's latest chapter, an ongoing webseries called LG15: The Resistance. We talked to the series' head writer, Joshua Fialkov, about how to convince the world that you've turned your teen angst show into a scifi epic.io9: LG15: The Resistance is, oh, roughly a million miles away from what people think of when they think of lonelygirl15, in part because the mainstream hype for that really peaked before the series' revelation of a wider, more SF and fantasy-based mythology. Is it a problem when you explain to people that this series isn't really just a girl sitting in front of her webcam at home, talking about her life, but instead all about secret societies and genetically superior beings? Joshua Fialkov: Yeah, I definitely think there's a huge audience out there that would love the show if they just knew what it really was. The long and short of the series is that the fountain of youth is real, and it's in the blood of girls all across the world. That's really the springboard that everything in the LG15 universe is based around. It was always the basic concept the guys were going for, and I think from a mythology stand point what they're doing is really strong. But, as you said, educating the audience that we're something else has been one of the big challenges of creating the new show. When you look at what's come before and there's 500+ lonelygirl15 episodes, plus another 100+ episodes of KateModern. So, with the Resistance one of the challenges was finding a way to have a fresh start, introduce the new show to a new audience, but, keep the core of the story in tact, because that's what the existing fans want. So, where I'd say we excel in the new show is that it's both a fresh start and a continuation of what's come before. I think what's amazing about the show, and what I really focus on, is the idea that this is a show where we get to see not just the mythology and the craziness, but, also get a chance to meet our characters one on one. They're each pouring their hearts out to the audience on a weekly basis. As I look at what we're doing, while the idea of it being in the vein of a Buffy or a Heroes is certainly valid, what we're really emulating is the classic Shakespearean structure. Now, while that structure is inherent in any genre fiction, it's even more prevelant in what we do, as you're literally getting soliloquies from the characters on a weekly basis. io9: How are you managing the juggling act between appeasing the fans of the original lonelygirl15 and newcomers to LG15? You mentioned Buffy as a touchstone, and that's definitely a classic in terms of mixing the personal and supernatural; is that a model for combining the confessional diary format and tone of lonelygirl15 and KateModern with the larger story? Fialkov: Most definitely. Alongside that, I'm also drawing on my lifetime love of manga, which, as a format, definitely follows with what we're doing. In Manga, one of the recurring themes is that balance of internal monologue, relational drama, and ass kicking drama. Comics as a whole do such a great job of balancing that, but, with manga, the creators have really figured out that particular recipe. Even when a series is 30 books long, there's a fantastic ability for many manga creators to make every book feel like a jumping on point, and that, for me, is what really makes them the phenomenon they are. For me, to go back to the Shakespeare analogy, you don't get bumped out of Hamlet when he does the To be or not to be... speech, nor do you get bumped out of Richard III when he "Now is the winter of discontent"'s it up. It's just a basic device of the medium. The video blogs are the equivalent in our shows. It's a way to personalize the story, just like using the internet in general is a personal experience. When Jonas confesses his feelings of self-doubt and pain, it's as though he's confessing it to you individually, rather than to the audience as a whole. I think you see that in how passionate our fans are about the characters, despite knowing it's all just a show. io9: When you say that the show isn't just the videos, but also the website, is that in the sense of ARGs as we recognize them today, or is this also something that you guys want to revolutionize, the way that lonelygirl15 made people pay more attention to webdrama? Fialkov: I think the way that we're approaching it is a bit different. I've followed a few online ARG's, the Dark Knight one, and the Lost stuff especially. While they're both amazingly well done, what they don't really do is effect the content. So, you get this feeling that what you're doing is a diversion. For us, the puzzles, interactivity, and the like actually drive the story. When you help solve a puzzle you have Sarah saying, "Thank you so much." The level of storytelling that allows you... it's just breath taking. We watch the comment boards and see what people are saying, and while you can always sort of guesstimate what the reaction will be, when you see them playing along (even when they don't think they are), it's just simply amazing.

io9: How did you end up involved in this? Most people - myself included - know you from your comics work; was this what brought you to the attention of [LG15 production company] Eqal, or was this gig something that you lobbied for? Fialkov: It's funny, but, it ended up being exactly what I needed, even if I didn't know it. I come from a pretty strong film/tv production background, but, five or so years ago, I stepped away from it to pursue comics. Frankly, I love making comics above all else. It's the thing that keeps this old heart of mine pumping. So, when the opportunity first presented itself, I wasn't instantly jumping up and down with glee. I took that first meeting with the guys pretty tentatively. I had a great thing going in comics. I was making a decent living, working regularly, and, best of all, not taking any work that I didn't absolutely want to do. I don't know that most freelancers in any business feel that way. So, when I sat down with them, it was much more out of curiosity than for a "gotta get the job" kind of thing. But, after spending that first hour or so with Miles Beckett... I don't want to say that my eyes were opened, but, I really got a new perspective. Comics, for good or ill, is an old fashioned medium. I think as look at the difficulties being had in making the leap into new technologies for the industry, you see that there's some creakiness in it. I think the medium itself is timeless, and will always be there, always a part of our culture. But, it hasn't evolved. It stopped moving forward. As a creator, I'm interested in moving forward, breaking boundaries, and doing stuff that truly is different. Comics, try though they may, still have a hard time swallowing that. I've been extremely lucky with my work, everything from Elk's Run to Punks, all of which are uniquely bizarre in their own ways, and each managed to find a modest audience. But, doing work like that is what inspires me. I love superheroes as much as the next guy, but, I think finding something new and different to say within those tropes... well... it's challenging, especially for me. With LG15, and, the whole concept of Social Shows on the web, it's like having a blank slate. We're literally defining what the medium can and can't be. There are no rules, and the audience just wants to be challenged. What Miles and Greg, and the rest of the Eqal crew have figured out is that the only way to truly embrace the web is to invent something wholecloth that literally IS the web. Our show isn't just the videos, it's the website as well. That's a logic that when Miles pitched it to me just made me stop and say, "Wow." Working in comics, you're constantly going to meetings, hearing pitches and the like, for what the 'future' is going to look like. Nine times out of ten... they're bullshit. Sitting there with Miles that balmy summer evening, I realized that this was that one time that it's not. io9: You mention the "LG15 Universe" earlier - Does that mean that there's potentially more where this came from after LG15: The Resistance? Is there even an end planned for LG15? Fialkov: I've got stuff planned out for quite a ways out for our show, but, in addition to that, there's actually an Italian version of the show in the pipeline, as well. For good or ill, there's a lot of threads that have been started and explored on the show thus far, and while addressing them is certainly part of my job (and motivation), I think the idea that this isn't just this one group of kids dealing with the problems, but, in fact a world wide occurrence and people everywhere are forced to explore, fight, and combat it, is frankly amazing. io9: Somewhat connected to that - Will the story ever crossover from web to TV or movies (or even comics, given your background)? Obviously, each medium has its pros and cons, but there's something about this that just seems so webby to me - Is that a failure on my part, or is it integral to the storytelling? Fialkov: We're open to exploring it wherever it goes. Again, part of the thrill of working at a so called "Web 2.0" company (at least in mindset) is that there are no borders, and no limitations. We can literally do whatever we want, wherever we want it, and, as long as our fans are on board, we get away with it. [LG15: The Resistance]


First the Simpsons and now this? Will io9 get there before Sci-Fi and change its name to Beyond?