Mysterious internet kewpie doll/YouTube star Lonelygirl15 has scarcely had time to breathe in the media hype when the actress playing her and the aspiring filmmakers who created her were exposed. From Richard Rushfield and Claire Hoffman in the LA Times last Friday:
Lonelygirl15 appears to be an innocent, home-schooled 16-year-old, pouring her heart out for her video camera in the privacy of her bedroom. But since May, her brief posts on the video-sharing site YouTube and the social networking hub MySpace have launched a Web mystery eagerly followed by her million-plus viewers: Who is this sheltered ingenue who calls herself "Bree," and is she in some sort of danger â€” or, worse, the tool of some giant marketing machine?
The answer turns out to be…nope. In a piece from the same reporters today we learn that "the people behind the wildly popular website lonelygirl15 are not studio executives, Internet moguls or, as some suspected, Satanists. Instead, they are aspiring filmmakers who met at a mutual friend’s birthday party in April: Miles Beckett, 28, a Web-obsessed medical school dropout; Mesh Flinders, 26, a screenwriter; and Greg Goodfried, a 27-year-old lawyer." The three turn out to be the latest odd testaments to YouTube’s ability to make stars out of people without any immediately apparent marketable talent:
"We did this with zero resources. Anybody could do what we did," Flinders said Tuesday. The sum total of the equipment they used to create a sensation on the Internet, as well as perhaps the web’s biggest homegrown mystery: "Two desk lamps (one broken), an open window and a $130 camera."
Goodfried said Creative Artists Agency in Beverly Hills got involved about a month ago â€” well into the lonelygirl15 story â€” through a friend who works at the agency. "We went in there one afternoon. I walked around the place, and met some cool young guys that got the idea and said they would help us," he said.
A Creative Artists Agency spokesman said Tuesday that the filmmakers are now agency clients.
Savvy boys! Better crank that film deal out tout de suite. Over at the New York Times, Virginia Heffernan and Tom Zeller Jr. talk to the cast of the web video series (sort of â€” they were all apparently asked to sign non-disclosure agreements) and offer this reflection:
The series, which Mr. Flinders and Mr. Beckett plan to continue on a site overseen by them, may play differently with fans now that they know for sure that Bree is an actress. Part of the appeal of the series was that the serious-minded, literate Bree offered an unbeatable fantasy: a beautiful girl who techy guys had something in common with.
On learning that [Jessica] Rose was an actress whose interests, unlike the scientific and religious issues that fascinated Bree, ran to parties and posing, one fan wrote, â€œVery cute, but sheâ€™s really not into Feynmann and Jared Diamond! (Iâ€™m heart-broken …But a wonderful actress, had me fooled into thinking she was a geek like me.)â€
There’s something very William Gibson-without-the-romanticism about the whole affair.