By Deven Knill and Natalia Balcerzak
A group of Ryerson students and grads have put a digital twist onto a classical read.
The up-and-coming interactive web series, The March Family Letters (MFL), is an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
Following the tale of four sisters who deal with transition from childhood to womanhood, MFL puts a modern spin on that journey.
“The novel is like the starting line in a marathon. It gives us a definite place to start but from there, our job is to run,” said Alix Markman, writer of MFL.
“The nice thing about a web series is that they’re put online, and you can build and find an audience almost immediately,” said Sarah Shelson, MFL showrunner.
After watching a popular web series adaption of Pride & Prejudice called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and being a fan of classics literature, she decided to help bring Little Women to life.
The Transmedia Zone at Ryerson, a space that assists innovative startups, provided Cherrydale Productions, makers of MFL, with equipment, mentorship and creative and financial support.
“Transmedia is kind of a new concept in media. It used to be a bit of a dirty word and now it seems more accepted,” said Lauren Evans, the MFL transmedia producer.
Transmedia is the narrative technique of telling stories across multiple digital platforms.
Cherrydale Productions received funding from the Independent Production Fund in March after being one of 13 new series selected from 188 applicants. She said that their goal is to produce six seasons and a movie.
“It’s kind of like being given a basket full of gold and having no idea what to do with it,” said Evans.
The interactive portion of the web series includes the characters on Twitter and Tumblr, which Evans helps manage. They interact directly with their audience on social media.
The series doesn’t officially begin until this December, but their pilot release and Q&A videos have already hooked nearly 1,000 YouTube subscribers. MFL will continue to promote their web series until then.