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Monday, July 3, 2017

Be a Part of My New Webseries

This summer, I'm making Twincidents, a genderbent, modern webseries inspired by Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors. Help me bring it to life by supporting and sharing our Indiegogo campaign!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Audition for My Next Webseries

I haven't blogged in a while, partly because I'm busy working on a new webseries called Twincidents, inspired by Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors.

We just put out the casting call, so if you could share it and audition if you're in my area, I'd love you forever!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Eyre Adaptation: The Autobiography of Jane Eyre

Hello readers! I emerge from the void for a rare blog post. My wonderful friend Stephanie is hosting a readalong of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre over on her blog, Bahnreads. You can check it out and join in there or in the #EyreAlong tag on social media. Stephanie will be sharing about adaptations tonight, so she asked me to do a post about one of my favorite adaptations: The Autobiography of Jane Eyre.

*Some spoilers for both the book and the webseries ahead. Proceed with caution.*

I have little to no chill about my love for this series so let's be real, this post will probably just be a lot of me flailing about it. 

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AOJE is what we in the biz call a LIW or Literary Inspired Webseries. If you're on my blog, chances are you already know what that is, but just in case, I'll give you a quick rundown. A genre launched by The Lizzie Bennet Diaries in 2012, LIW are webseries that take elements and characters from classic literature and modernize them, usually using videos and other transmedia elements. For example, AOJE takes Jane Eyre and makes Jane a modern-day vlogger with her own YouTube channel and social media accounts. 

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The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was produced in LA with a decent budget and the backing of internet celeb Hank Green. AOJE began airing roughly one year later, with no budget whatsoever. Just two young Canadian women with an idea and a borrowed camera and some friends they coerced into helping out. Seeing what they did has inspired people around the globe to make their own series. There are close to a hundred LIW out there now, and only a few of them have had the same kind of resources as LBD. (I can't understate what a huge influence AOJE was on my own show, Project Dashwood. Literally what sparked the whole thing and the show we tried to stay closest to stylistically.)

AOJE also established a lot of standard tropes of the genre like Baking Episodes, Adventure Montages, Party Videos, Talking on a Walk, and Draw My Life. (Some of these were YouTuber conventions, but hadn't been used in LIW.) (I'm sure I'm missing some, AOJE is iconic.) (I totally made up names for some of those tropes yolo.) 

So yeah, it's a huge deal and it changed my life blah blah blah. I digress. Stephanie actually asked me to talk about the similarities and differences between the original book and webseries and how well the changes work.

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The show re-imagines Jane as a tea-loving 21-year-old just out of nursing school, who isn't sure what she wants to do with her life. Looking for a change, she takes a job as a nanny. Jane gets introspective and tells us about her childhood in some videos a bit later on, including a Draw My Life. While I think her past is an important part of her story, I don't mind skipping it and getting right to the action. (Spoilers I have a huge problem where I get kinda bored any time Jane's not at Thornfield in this story.)

hashtag relatable
One of the best things about the show is that it makes Adele an actual character. She's about ten or eleven, precocious and intelligent, and she and Jane make art projects and talk about how Adele wishes she saw more of Rochester (her actual father in this version, which makes more sense anyway). Also I'm quite impressed that they found such a talented and dedicated young actress to appear in so many episodes!

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Rochester himself is a decent portrayal. It's realllll hard to translate these brooding Byronic heroes to modern day, especially without making them seem a lot like the modern Mr Darcy we've already seen in LBD. (Honestly, Edward Cullen is one of the better modern Byronic dudes, but that is a blog post for another day. I still need an AU where he actually has a secret vampire wife locked up in his attic.)


Anyway, I like AOJE's version, but he could be better. I have high standards for Rochester on screen and Timothy Dalton in the 1983 miniseries is the only version that's done him justice in my opinion. (Also a blog post for another day.)

Overall, the plot of AOJE tracks pretty closely to the book. Small plot elements are changed for logistics or modern realism. Rochester has a minor car accident instead of falling off his horse, the bedroom fire becomes a deep cut from a "broken vase" (which Jane is able to stitch, up thanks to her nursing skills), he dresses as a clown rather than a culturally offensive gypsy fortuneteller, (Thank You!) he and Jane plan to get married "symbolically", which naive young Jane unfortunately falls for. 

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Jane probably
(PS who made this gif? ily)
That's where you have to start suspending your disbelief a little bit. The madwoman in the attic trope doesn't hold up in modern day. (I mean, unless you're Steven Moffat. 'Nother Blog Post, 'Nother Day) The explanation for why Rochester isn't divorced is complicated and slightly convoluted, but watcha gonna do? 

There is an excellent episode of AOJE called The Truth. It's twenty-six minutes long and Jane is in her wedding dress and it came out in the middle of the night, which was dramatic as heck (I happened to wake up in the middle of the night and check my phone and watch it right then and aajkdlsjld). Anyway, the team clearly put a lot of thought into how to handle Bertha's mental illness. Rochester tells Jane the sad story of how her Post Partum Depression spiraled into a variety of other problems. 

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random KStew gif is random but accurate
And then JANE CALLS HIM OUT. On his treatment of Bertha, of Adele, of Blanche, of Grace (she and Mrs Fairfax are a composite character in this version) and of herself. 

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Jane probably
So it's a real bad time and Jane leaves. But that means we get to meet THE RIVERSSSSS. I think this is where AOJE really hits its stride, writing and production-wise, and the actors for Diana, Mary, and Simon (a more modern and less confusingly spelled name than St John) are so good. As I said, I'm normally bored when Jane's away from Thornfield, but in AOJE, the Rivers family is so fun and joyful and lovely I don't mind. They feel like a real family who love each other, which is exactly what our poor neglected Hufflepuff Jane needs. It's a rare adaptation where the sisters each have depth and personality. Jane admires how all three siblings have found their passions in life.

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#FoundFamilySquadGoals
Simon is an endearing doctor-to-be until he takes being a Gryffindor too far and asks Jane to marry him (for practical reasons only of course) and move to India to do Doctors Without Borders. This is such a great modernization of the book and once again, incorporates Jane's nurse training.

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They did have one nicely-handled early episode where Jane talked about Helen and her faith, but I miss some of the faith/Christianity elements of the book. (Hypocrisy, abusing religion to serve your own purposes, how it's not The Right Thing for everyone to go be noble glowing missionaries) To be fair, very few adaptations delve into that as much as I'd like. There are some things that really resonated with where I was at when I first read the book and I have a lot of feelings. (Another post...I should really just blog more instead of subjecting my poor friends to rants about these things all the time.)

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I can't very well talk about AOJE's deviations from the novel without talking about the ending. The first time I watched it, I admit I felt a bit let down. I wanted a sweeping romantic ending with ya know, kissing. (Part of the problem here was that their Rochester left the project so they had to recast and we only got to see his feet and him from a distance at the end. Cry.) But I watched it again recently and realized that Jane finding a family and a home is really what the novel is all about, and I think the series nailed that.

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Reader, I rewatched it.