One Pinterest-filled afternoon as I was pinning away my favorite outfits to the folders on my account, I randomly stumbled upon the “Beat Girl” web diaries. After an overload of inspirational quotes, puppy pictures and tattoo designs, this series jumped from the page with its mood boards filled with videos rather than photos. Videos on Pinterest? What a brilliant idea!
The series “Beat Girl,” started by production company beActive, is a transmedia series that has crossed from novel to Pinterest video uploads to YouTube web series to a motion picture within the last two years. The series follows a girl named Heather Jennings, a classically trained pianist who is forced to move in with her estranged father after her mother dies suddenly. While immersed in the tough world of her father’s neighborhood, Heather becomes exposed to the rave culture and falls in love with the creativity and freedom of being a DJ. A true coming of age story, the series follows Heather as she finds herself torn between her two passions of piano and DJ-ing.
At first, Managing Director Nuno Bernardo dismissed the thought of using Pinterest as a way to share videos with viewers, believing that although Pinterest is the hub for nail polish tutorials and beauty secrets, it is not a place people go to enjoy video content. After much back-and-forth deliberation, Bernardo chose to give it a try and was surprised to find that Pinterest was the perfect platform to reach his targeted demographic. Through the “Beat Girl” Pinterest boards, viewers are given the chance to repin photos that inspire them, engage with Heather’s video entries, and ultimately, learn about the world of “Beat Girl” in a simple and visually appealing way. Bernardo took the time to sit down with NMR to talk about the benefits of Pinterest and how the world of social media has taken entertainment and storytelling to a whole new level.
How did the Beat Girl project get started and where is it now?
Nuno Bernardo: “Beat Girl” started, I’ll say two years ago. We’ve been producing these hybrid shows that some people call transmedia, other people call cross media, since the beginning of 2002. Our goal is to tell stories in a different way and to put the audience inside the story. We are always trying to make the characters and the story as close as possible to the audience. We were developing this story about this girl whose mum died — she was supposed to follow her mother’s footsteps in becoming a world class pianist, and suddenly her mother died, she has to live with dad. She goes to live in a more rough area, she gets out of her comfort zone and she gets caught in this world of electronic music. She becomes torn between this world of classical music and following the mother’s footsteps and become herself and follow this freedom and excitement of electronic music.
We shot a lot of material in audio visual, we wrote prequels, we wrote a feature film, we developed lot of material, because when we create these stories we don’t create it just for a movie or a television series; we create a bigger timeline so then from that big timeline of events, we make that a web series. Then we make that blog, and then we can have a feature film. We wanted to create her world, and because her world was very visual, with all the raves [and] all the things that she was going through, initially we thought to express this character through blogs. Then early this year we thought Pinterest, and we thought “no,” because this character, she’s not a writer; she probably never writes her own diary, she probably never writes a blog. This character is more visual, and that’s why we went to Pinterest. We tried to find ways that we could present this character to an audience and tell a story, and we basically recreated several albums, some maps and some videos that did two things: one, tell who is this girl, what she’s been through, what are her emotions, what excites her, what she saw today, and two, introduce through videos her character, her goals and the other characters we’ll later find in the book and the feature film.
How have you kept this Pinterest account different from Beat Girl’s YouTube channel?
In the end, they are the same videos that you’ll find on Pinterest. I think it’s more about the experience. For me, Pinterest is for mood boards. You will not want to sit down for 5 minutes watching a video, but you want to go to a place, and when you go to the Beat Girl’s Pinterest profile, you can easily see who’s this girl, what she’s been through, what are her issues, who is her family friends so it’s simple way to enter the Beat Girl or Heather’s world. If you want to find out more, play the video or go to other platforms and mediums. I see with Pinterest, and especially this story, a very easy way you can easily map out who is this girl, what happened to her and where she going to be.
Heather is such a visual character as a DJ, which makes her the perfect candidate for using Pinterest. Would you use this medium for another project?
Not as planted as we did in “Beat Girl,” but we have two other projects that we have Pinterest on. One of the reasons we choose Pinterest was because at the time, Pinterest was exploding so fast with teenage and 20 to 30-year-old women, and this project was of that demographic. For us, it made sense; we needed to be there because our audience was there and was using it.
When you’re creating a project, how has the presence of social media changed how you’re looking to create entertainment?
When I developed my first project, “Sophia’s Diary,” we are talking about 2002, and we didn’t have any social media. Basically we had to build some of the features that you find now on social media. We had to build things like the main character sending daily alerts by SMS to the audience and creating microblogging. At the beginning, we had to create because at the time for me, it made sense to use these tools because it was a way that we could keep the audience coming back.
When you produce a television show, even if you do a bad show, when it goes on air, you will have an audience. When you create a web series, if you create a bad show that someone doesn’t want to see or watch, you get zero views. The key for the success when you do digital content is to embed the tools into the storytelling process that keep reminding the audience that there is new content, [that] the character needs something else [and] teasing the audience with cliffhangers. Always create different types of content that remind the audience that something is going on and to check out the website. Now we have so many social media tools that make your job easier, but what we are trying to do is, not using it just because we use it, but trying to use the ones that make sense for the story.