Strong storytelling. Nuanced characters. Serious content. “EastSiders” proves these can all exist on the web.
...because as the "next-generation Blair Witch Project, "LonelyGirl15" used interactive forms of storytelling to trick a fledgling internet audience into thinking that the life of a quirky teenage girl that would then be targeted by a dangerous cult was true. It spawned conspiracy theorist boards trying to test the validity of the show and is a great example of early storytelling when YouTube was the wild west.
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When "LonelyGirl15" creator Miles Beckett was asked "why YouTube," he spoke of his observation of the rise in popularity of video blogs at the time and thought "it would be interesting if one of those video bloggers [was] actually the main character in a story." Video blogging has since matured, so while you can't go around these days acting as a vlogger in a fabricated story, you can still remain attentive and observant of the zeitgeist. What are people attracted to now? Why are they attracted to it? Can you use this observation as a theme, the basis of a character or better yet, can you pioneer the platform and have the story live on it?
People eventually started to question the lonely girl's existence on the grounds that she was just "a little too charming," that her videos were "a little too well edited" and her story "a little too neatly laid out." Unless you're BuzzFeed, no one can accurately predict what it's going to take to go viral on the Internet, but sometimes, as is the case with "LonelyGirl15," it's the oversights that give you traction. People on the internet are always looking to "Snopes" you or Google the answer to an argument. Bad press is good press and no press is bad press.
In 1999, found-footage horror pioneer, "The Blair Witch Project," purported their movie as truth, using the pre-Snopes-era internet as a platform to set up fake articles and websites to support the legend of the Black Hills Forest and make the missing person angle more believable. If in 1999 and 2006 people were able to create compelling stories on new and emerging platforms, what is to be done with storytelling and the platforms available today? How best to use Instagram? How to incorporate Snapchat? Are we done with YouTube?
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