I have always been a fan of webseries on youtube pertaining to classic literature, whether it be The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy or The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. A webseries that thinks outside of the box is Classic Alice, which has titular character Alice actually living her life according to classic novels. It is kind of a crazy idea, but has been executed fairly brilliantly, and I was lucky enough to sit down with creator and actress for Alice, Kate Hackett to discuss the series.
1) The idea of the show came from an assignment
I was asked to write something that would straddle between a kind of hosting show that would give out book recommendations based on YA novels fans liked… but I didn’t want to do hosting, so I told them that I’d write something with more of a narrative. Basically: a vlog because that would be easy to shoot, but it would have a story, so it would be scripted. I wrote the first one in a mock-umentary style and wrote six more episodes, then when the company moved on to other pastures, I decided to go ahead and make the show myself!
2. Classic Alice has been going high tech!
I’m really excited now to talk about how we’re transitioning what was a total YouTube creation onto our own platform with the iOS app. Not only does it have everything we’ve ever created, it also allows us to update and push notifications to our fans so they’ll never miss anything. It’s this huge timeline of the entire show, not just the videos, and I love that we’ve had a chance to bring it to our audience.
3. Kate wears a lot of hats for the show
Actor, for sure. I love being creative, so writing is a close second. I produce & write because I need to, but I act because I love it.
4. She does have to read ALL of those books
YUP. I actually had to reread them all as I wrote to make sure I grabbed all the literary winks that I like to stuff into the show. Obviously, Wentworth’s letter made it into our current season, so I have those ’big beats’ but I also sprinkle little “isms” that I find in the novels.
5. There are always more novels that could have been explored.
For sure. I wish we had time to play in some Bronte, Melville (well, I guess we did that with sock puppets), Zola, or any number of foreign writers, but I also feel really content with the stories I chose because they all played into this bigger show.
6. Kate was glad to have change of venue too.
Yes! I never wanted this show to be a vlog; I think that the vlog style is really restricting and insanely demanding, especially on the actors. Having the freedom to have real conversations instead of presentational “this is what I show the world” really elevates the entire story. I wish we had had more time and funds to live that way even more, but as it is, we shot an entire feature film (180+ pages) in 8 days and on less than 50k. That’s insane!
7. Tread lightly around the dark temptress.
Dracula was the most difficult book that wound up in the show. There were others, and you can see more about them in the app we’re developing, that were tried and just lost along the way. Dracula, however, was tough because it was never clear how far I could push this character. My instinct is “far”, but I definitely worried about fan reaction a little bit. I don’t THINK that pulled me back creatively, I think we still trampled around in dark places, but it was a new consideration for me!
8. She likes playing two very different styles of Alice
I thought Dracula held the most ‘truths’; it was the most raw, the most mistake-riddled, and the most fulfilling as an actor. But that said, quirky-fun Alice is always cute and easy to slip into!
9. Bit of advice? Don't be afraid to explore the unknown in storytelling
I think that the best stories challenge you as a consumer, be they TV (Breaking Bad) or novel (Lolita) or whatever else. So definitely -though I had the wherewithal not to go live them. ;)
10. She acts, writes, produces AND sings!
I would love to actually record the song Alice & Lily made, but that, if it ever happens, would have to be an app release.
11.McBay's return was always planned
For us, yeah — Chris O’Brien is such a joy to work with I knew I wanted him back. We all did! It was a little tough to weave him into a storyline since he very dramatically burned ALL the bridges, but we did it! And I love how we did it.
12. Don't expect any "modern" books to show up.
Definitely no - regardless of us ending, the royalty fees would be bananas and trying to navigate copyright law sounds awful. Plus… the end is nigh.
13. Is there hope for Alice and Andrew?
I wouldn’t say hope. I would definitely not say hope.
Classic Alice is still premiering on Youtube, with new episodes every Tuesday and Thursday.
See the first episode below: