An Internet series becomes a digital hit


What do you get when you combine video blogging with TV-caliber production values? If you're a bored doctor named Miles Beckett, the answer is "Lonelygirl15," the confessional, sci-fi-inflected tale of a teen on the run.

The project, which Beckett created with attorney Greg Goodfried and writer-director Mesh Flinders, launched a year ago on YouTube as a "video diary" and was revealed only later as a fictionalized account. The suspense, the execution and the adorable lead actress all add up to a case study in how to mount a successful programming rollout on the Internet.

The first "Lonelygirl" installment, uploaded in June 2006, got about 10,000 views. The third one received 50,000, and by July 4, the number had climbed to 500,000.

"Initially, we thought, what if we did this for a few months and then had (the Lonelygirl) disappear? We would then go off and create a feature film and distribute it on iTunes," Goodfried says. "Then we realized that we had tapped into this new form of serial storytelling and that it would be impossible to shoot a feature while continuing to make as much video content as we wanted to for the web. So we decided to stick with the video."

New episodes are uploaded four-to-five times per week, and the "Lonelygirl" group -- which includes producer Goodfried's wife, Amanda, a former CAA agent -- is about to premiere its second original show, "KateModern," launching on Along with Flinders, Amanda Goodfried will be on hand at the Hollywood & Games Summit to give a presentation on "What Digital Distribution Can Do For You," June 27 at 11:50 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

"The long versus short of it is, it doesn't matter how content is distributed -- whether it's a reel delivered to a theater, a broadcast over satellite or data over the Internet," Greg Goodfried says. "The relevant issue is where you're watching. If you're watching on a 30-foot screen, it should look and feel a certain way, and if you're watching on a phone, it should look and feel a different way. We're excited about all these possibilities."

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