10 October 2009 3494 Views

The Viral That Became More

by Dan Koelsch

(Editor’s Note: This article is written by guest writer Kristopher Stoltz, a member of our forum)

If you’re a fan of Virals, then there’s 3 viral campaigns you should know and respect:

1. Blair Witch viral
2. The Dark Knight viral
3. LonelyGirl15 viral

Confused on the last one? Never heard of it? Well, if you consider yourself a viral fan, you should. It’s definitely an accomplished web-series, from being shown on the news to developing spin-offs and getting millions of viewers and fans. It is a cheap web-series, so cheap in fact that it only really uses a web-cam and YouTube, but it all started as a mere viral for an independent feature-film. Yep, Lonelygirl15 can very well be considered the most successful Viral ever made for a feature film that was never created. Even more ironic, the creators don’t seem to realize it.

To quote the creators, Mike Beckett and Greg Goodfried:

“Originally, LonelyGirl15 was going to be a prequel,” adds Beckett, “We planned to shoot an independent feature film simultaneous to filming the online series and sell it to a DVD distributor or something.”

Now let’s see what the definition of a Viral Video from good ol’ Wikipedia:

A viral video is a video clip that gains widespread popularity through the process of Internet sharing, typically through email or Instant messaging, blogs and other media sharing websites

That’s exactly what LonelyGirl15 started as, a series of video clips to gain widespread popularity. That’s the very purpose of a viral itself! Viral has always really been advertising for a movie. Around the 6th clip of LonelyGirl15 is when a big change happened. Mike and Greg agreed to cancel the feature film and turn LonelyGirl15 into a standalone web-series. That’s when a feature-film viral campaign evolved into an iconic series of short movies. And to think, it’s about an teenage girl talking to a webcam about her life.


It still acts like a viral too. If you think The Dark Knight’s viral got pretty interactive, LonelyGirl15 tops that by actually being in the storyline. For example, one time you could go to Central Park (given by “secret coordinates” from the show itself) and find a flash drive that you have to dig to get it. That was an actual part in the story, and you could have been in it. Sure, it’s not as fancy as a bowling ball in a package, but at any point in The Dark Knight did you see Gordon orchestrate a sting operation for the joker by planting bowling balls as traps? Nope.

The feature-film never got past pre-production, but the viral still goes on. Who knows, maybe the success of the web series will give Mike and Greg second thoughts about making a complete movie. If so, you can be sure the MovieViral crew will be following it.

You can check out the entire LonelyGirl15 series on YouTube, or go the official homepage to see how the phenomenon exploded into multiple shows.


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