Pitchbox Interview: Pep Jové, creator of “Streisand Effect” talks to us
A Madrid TV Pitchbox Official Selection — 2017
We talk to Pep Jové, creator of the TV series project Streisand Effect. Developed by Barcelona based production company Compacto, a painfully funny comedy about the extent to which a personal embarrasing video uploaded on Youtube can take you; and what will its main character do to remain anonymous, though he has become a total online celebrity.
David Streisand is the most famous Internet celebrity, due to a video that his parents uploaded onto Youtube, some years ago. Traumatized by a life ruined by fame, David will fight to regain his anonymity and to take revenge of his parents, responsible for the video. With the help of Alan, a hacker — con — artist, and Sheila, a vlogger obsessed with popularity, the Youtube celebrity will little by little realize the potential he has to influence and transform Internet society.
FMH: We’d like to know a bit more about your trajectory, why did you choose this profession? Where did you study? Where did you start your career?
My passion for cinema came thanks to the cinema my grandmother owned. Her and her husband’s family run a small theatre-cinema in the village of Cardona (Catalonia, Spain). Though I never saw it running, I was fascinated by the abandoned space under the house of my grandmother,with its screening room, its dusty red seats, the old posters hanging from the walls, and, most of all, the interesting story of how Orson Welles used to go every day after shooting to see the dailies of his film Chimes at Midnight (1965), which was shot in Cardona Castle. For this reason and, especially the moving story in mind, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in film, so I studied communications at Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra University. After finishing my studies I worked for a couple of animation production companies, then I started working at Compacto, where I specialized in online communication and transmedia narratives.
FMH: What other stuff have you worked on? Can you talk to us or show us your most noteworthy work up until now?
I have mainly dedicated myself to writing for diverse campaigns for brands and institutions, as well as worked on the promotion of several films. As my most personal project, there’s Fiesta, a feature film project with a lot of fun moments, although also a lot of blood, where I’m a co-writer, and with which we have won the Catalan Film — Ventana Sur Award at Sitges Pitchbox 2018.
FMH:Talk to us about the project Streisand Effect. How did you come about with the story? What is it about?
Streisand Effect came about in 2010. Youtube was still a relatively virgin space, with little presence from brands and without what nowadays we know as youtubers. From all the home made videos that were uploaded, there were small viral phenomenons amongst them, where the protagonists became real celebrities, without trying to make their success in a job or source of income, which made them purer. I was disturbed by cases of parents who’d upload very funny videos of their kids without their consent, which became big Internet happenings, like David after dentist or Charlie bit my finger. From there onwards I started thinking what would life be as an adult for this viral kids, marked by fame at an early age: because you hear how on TV you can get a minute of fame, whilst on the Internet the footprint of fame is kept online forever. Streisand Effect is exactly about this. About how its main character, David, the biggest Internet celebrity ever, will fight to regain that anonymous status. For that, he will rely on the help of his two friends,a hacktivist expert in online con jobs and a fashion vlogger obsessed with fame and fake rumours. With these characters, plus the Internet world references and absurd humour, at the core of social media, Streisand Effect wants to become the first comedy 100% themed around the Internet.
FMH: I love the concept of turning around the concept of what is expected from someone who’s popular online, more so today, with all the influencers, make up vloggers or travel vloggers we can find on Youtube. It seems that for many, is the century’s ideal job, to be a vlogger…it conveys a really interesting analysis of towards where is our society going. What was the process like of writing a series like this?
Before writing any script, I knew that first I had to define the universe of the show, and how would the Internet be represented through the characters of the series. Furthermore, I had to analyze as well important concepts which lie at the heart of the story, such as friendship and the construction of one’s own identity. Being my intention to make fun of our online behavior, no doubt I had to make stand out those negative spots, presenting the Internet as a space of total lack of control, a problem generator, and its users as eternal teenagers, egocentric and obsessed with getting “likes”. With regards to references to specific happenings, brands, fads or celebrities that come from the Internet, I researched and investigated for a long time the confines of the web, to be able to use the latest jokes and online phenomenons. I consider myself a fan of memes and gifs, so it was a relatively easy job.
FMH: How long have you been working on this project?
The first treatment I finished it in 2014, I presented it to a transmedia script contest, organized by the Associated Screenwriters of Catalonia, where it achieved a prize for its innovative lay out in the usage of social media to tell a story. After that, it received recognition in various contests and international script markets, like The Black List, Austin Film Festival y Capital Fund Screenplay Competition. Thanks to these mentions and wins, we were selected in 2017 and 2018 in two of the biggest industry networking events in Spain. The first one was Madrid TV Pitchbox and after that, we went to ConectaFiction market in Galicia (north west of Spain). In this last event we won the TVE (national public television in Spain) prize for best digital series project.
FMH: Where does the project stand now? What does it need to further be developed?
At this moment, we have a very good and ready bible as well as two episodes written down. What we now need is a TV or OTT platform which would be willing to bet on the project, getting involved in its financing, so we can finish writing the first season. As our journey with the project shows, this is a solid project, which only needs a little final push in its development to become a reality.
FMH: What is also interesting of Streisand Effect, is the fact that it is a transmedia project, where you can take advantage of other channels, bringing David’s world closer to reality. Did you establish this as a marketing strategy, so to make the experience of watching and following the series more immersive, or is it because the story happens on the Internet, it seemed a good opportunity to amplify the series universe to other communication outlets?
In the end, it’s a bit of everything, because the transmedia strategy is thought out with different objectives. Firstly, to promote and strengthen the main content we’re creating; through a lot of humor on social media, with the objective of it becoming viral. Secondly, we are looking to generate a community with the audience that will follow David’s adventures, making them participate with the characters of the show, and showing them how their actions have real consequences in the real world of social media. Here is where we plan on bringing to life the social media accounts of the main characters of the show, publishing content on them continuously, engaging the audience. Thirdly, we’d like that some of the characters on the show become a sort of voice of a generation, represented on the tv series channel, where they’d talk about current affairs, comment on actual TV shows and films…Lastly, if possible, we’d like to obtain extra revenues from marketing certain brands content or via publicizing David’s parents business products.
FMH: What are you looking to explore or show with these themes with this show?
We want to share a message, through humor; a message that, in spite of technology, we are generating a series of situations, accidents and problems that before didn’t exist. We’re getting to a point where we are dehumanizing ourselves, making decisions and doing things having in mind how people will react to it on social media. Nevertheless, we don’t want to build or portray a heavy criticism about the social changes provoked by the Internet in the last few decades, but to make our audience enjoy, making fun of our own behavior online.
FMH: What would you stand out most in the project?
Probably its coarse and somewhat wild humor. This is the adjective with which the series has been defined by those who have read the script.
FMH: Had you tried to shop it around before getting to know us at Filmarket Hub? How was the experience?
As I said before, we had participated in some script contests, and the prizes gotten at these allowed us to have a more solid presentation card in front of broadcasters; as we knew how hard it is to get their attention.
FMH: What made you submit it to Madrid TV Pitchbox?
The opportunity to dispose of a few minutes to present the show in front of the main Spanish tv broadcasters and international VOD platforms was very appealing. Very few times you will get to gather all these industry agents in the same place and them being willing to listen to your ideas.
Three favorite screenwriters
- Tina Fey
- Charlie Brooker
- Dan Harmon
Three favorite screenwriting books
- Escribir Ficción, Gotham Writer’s Workshop
- La semilla inmortal, Xavier Pérez y Jordi Balló
- El libro del Guión, Syd Field
Three favorite film directors
- Guillermo del Toro
- Alfonso Cuarón
- J.J Abrams
Three favorite films
- The Truman Show (Weir, 1998)
- The Ghostwriter (Polanski, 2010)
- Pan’s Labyrinth (Del Toro, 2006)