Interview with Kyle Walters, Joel Bryant & Lenne Klingaman Part 1

Welcome to Sanditon’s Kyle Walters, Joel Bryant & Lenne Klingaman discuss Sanditon,
Fan Interaction and more!

Welcome to Sanditon, a spin off of the popular webseries The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, Sanditon. I recently had the opportunity to chat with stars Kyle Walters, Joel Bryant and Lenne Klingaman, about everything from the casting process, to working on a webseries, to the high level of fan interaction, to Jane Austen and more.

Joel, Kyle and Lenne had so much to say that we’ve split this into two parts, so this is part one of two. You can read part 2 here. Also, don’t miss our special video segment of my interviews with Kyle and Joel.

Can you share how you heard about Welcome To Sanditon and how you got involved in the project?

Kyle: Well, I have a manager and she got me an audition for the project. That’s how I heard about it and I went to the first audition. I get a lot of audition sides and what was cool about this one was that the lines just clicked with me and I felt like I could just say them and I memorized them real quick and easy and those are the ones you know that just feel right. Being sort of a nerd, it was kind of exciting to get to talk about Triffids and stuff.

Joel: I saw it in a breakdown on an actor website or something. I kinda heard about it a little bit because I hang around with that whole new media crowd in LA.  I was like, Bernie [Su]’s on it? Yes! Jenni [Powell]’s on it? Yes! People are going to watch it. Spin off of a hugely successful series? Yeah, I’ll be reading for that, thank you. If it was just a webseries and I saw Bernie and Jenni’s name on it, I would do it anyway because I knew they’d make something good. I knew they’d be pushing boundaries and making great series. But then to find out that you’re jumping into an already established fanbase, an already established series, I mean, of course expectations are up here, but absolutely you wanna jump into something that already has that. It’s like saying no to Star Wars I. How do you say no to that?

So I just went in and read for it, and it was so much fun ’cause, it’s just nice to walk in where you know people and of course Margaret [Dunlap] and Jay [Bushman] were there and they’re super nice. It was just the regular audition process which is a call back – Bernie was there, Jenni was there, Allison [Paige] was there, so it was fun to read with her. And I just read it a few different ways, had a lot of laughs, and then, next thing you know, BOOM! There you go.

Lenne: I got the audition through my agent. I instantly had a good feeling. Both that I really liked the material and that I could do this. As I got to know Clara, I knew I wanted to play her. Then I put it together who the creators and master minds behind it were. I had just read a great piece on Jenni Powell in Backstage magazine and all she’d done for new media. I got excited – this was the real deal. People with vision and integrity. The audition process was great. I loved meeting Allison and working with her as well as Kyle. I felt such a good vibe from everyone behind the table; Bernie, Margaret, Jay, Stuart [Davis], Jenni. And it all fell in to place!


What’s your favourite thing about your character?

Joel: I love playing Tom Parker because it’s just fun to play this meandering adult in a world of smarter people. Like it’s fun just to be not the antagonist, but to be the more clueless one amongst everyone who has a better idea of how the world works. And yet he’s the mayor. And it’s fun, I get to go in and say some awesome lines and be a little bit lost. As I am right now. And I get to go in and I really get to try to make people laugh at this guy’s inane mayoral qualities. That’s fun.

Lenne: Oh man! Where do I start? Every character I play, I fall in love with. It just comes with the job. But with Clara the most exciting thing I’ve found is when we’re shooting she just tells me to do things – like scoop drops and cone throws. Really. She’s got a will of her own.  She’s hardworking and loyal. She loves what she does. I admire that. And I get it – in life, you gotta do what brings you joy.

Kyle: For me, the best part of the character is just his nerdiness. And it’s a nerdiness that’s different from my personal nerdiness. I’m much more of a Star Wars, like 80’s/90’s pop guy. And he’s like old vintage British stuff. And there are just references all over the place. And I get to go watch that, instead of learning my lines, and that’s just a lot of fun.


What’s been your favourite experience from working on Welcome to Sanditon so far?

Lenne: The people! Definitely the people. Rehearsing and shooting the episodes. I can’t say enough about how fun, warm, lovely this group is. We bonded. Truly – from the writers, to fellow actors, to directors, to set designers – seriously every one is amazing and hilarious and passionate and kind. Which makes what we are all doing really easy. But my second answer would be shooting the ice cream material – at one point I looked up at the camera and I realized I was doing what I love for a living WHILE learning to properly situate cut up Snickers on a mound of delectable ice cream I had just mixed up. I mean, life does NOT get better than that.

Kyle: I wish I had a good story. The whole thing has just been really fun. You know being on set for twelve hours with this team, these people, it’s just, the happiest days of my life.

Joel: You know, backing a bit onto what Kyle said. The best part of this is, I would say two-fold. There’s working with the cast and crew. The cast is awesome. Fun to hang out with. Allison and Lenne are awesome and Kyle’s awesome. And the crew, like I’ve known Bernie for a while, I’ve known Jenni for a while, met some new people. I’ve been pretty active in the new media space for years and it’s just kind of great. I love working in new media because with something on a smaller scale like this it’s more about having and fun and making it happen and the creative process vs egos and drama and divas. It’s just like, “Hey we’re all here, we have this time, let’s just shoot 48 pages in the next 12 hours” or something ridiculous like that, and you all kind of just jump on board and have a good time doing it.

Tom Ed

Have you been surprised by the fan reaction? How has it been coming into a role that has such a large and enthusiastic established fan base?

Kyle: The team, the producers, the writers and everybody, even before they started to cast us, talked to us about the transmedia aspect of it. They wanted to make sure we’d be okay having our picture be on the character twitter accounts and all that sort of thing. And then they talked to us when we were filming. They sat us down and they talked about how great the fans were and how enthusiastic they are and how lucky they are to have you guys. And pretty much prepped us to make sure that we were ready for it, in the sense of just having a twitter account and a tumblr if we wanted to. They also wanted to make sure that we were kind of cool people, not just good actors. That we could handle it and not put off a bad face to you guys. Since it started I’ve more than quadrupled in twitter followers which is fun and it’s cool to get to know all you guys.

Joel: It’s been great. At our first rehearsal meeting, me, Kyle and Lenne were warned about it. They said, “Here’s what to expect.” You hear that and you’re like, “Okay.” You take it with a grain of salt. Then, as soon as that first episode launched it was like, “Wow, look at all the followers, and the interaction and the pictures, and everything else. Oh my god, this is real!” But it’s been good, it’s been positive. I think Sanditon’s a lot different than Lizzie Bennet as far as the source material and everything and it’s been certainly kind of hot or cold as far as how many people are on board and that kind of stuff. As far as the actors, it’s been nothing but positive. Everyone I’ve interacted with has been cool, whether they like Tom Parker or not. They’ve been nice enough to separate the actor from the character. With bigger projects there’s that separation – like I could be anonymous online and make some snarky comment and that’s not really going to affect anybody ’cause they’re over here – whereas in the LBD and Sanditon fandom, it’s people dealing with people and we know we’re all just making comments and watching the same thing and going through all this together.

I think the cool thing about webseries and new media is that all of us are fairly well versed as far as being online and interacting goes, so we’re more than happy to do that stuff. And the production team is very savvy at being online so I think that breaks down the walls and it’s like, “Hey, we’re all in this together. You know, we’re making this, we’re acting in it or producing it; you guys are watching it and let’s just make a good product and have a good time with it.” I think you get that a lot with new medial vs traditional movie and TV projects where you have the gate keepers that you have to get through. I love interaction and breaking down that fourth wall. So it’s been awesome. Super supportive!

Lenne: It’s been thrilling and hilarious and eye opening. Really, I had not been much of a social media user, I didn’t get it. The fandom really opens your eyes to all the ways to use it for really great purposes. I have been astounded by their sense of community and connection – instead of disconnecting from the world, the fans use social media to talk to people from different countries, in different languages. I get glittered by them, and turned into amazing gifs that tell you to study! And in fairness, we were warned that it’s a lot of attention for a new work but that, indeed, these fans are loving, engaged, curious, and really smart. All I’ve found are true!

Tom Gigi

Welcome to Sanditon (WTS) is technically a spin off of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (LBD). Had you seen/heard of LBD before you were cast? How did that influence your approach to WTS (if at all)?

Joel: Anyone out here who’s even mildly active in new media knew about it. There’s so much web content out there that when something rises even a little bit above that, it turns some heads. So I started watching it. I thought it was genius, the way they updated Pride and Prejudice, and made it the vlog style, the whole deal. I knew a couple people on it. Craig Frank I knew, so when he popped up it was like ‘Oh, this is cool!’. I enjoyed it, and I met the cast at VidCon last year before I even watched the series.

Lenne: I had heard of it but wasn’t super familiar. I got on the Internet and watched a lot more of Lizzie once I knew I was auditioning for WTS. It influenced me tremendously. The style and technique of talking to camera. Learning who Gigi is. All of it was really helpful. A crash course on the world of Pemberley Digital! I also knew I had to find my spot in the world of the wonderful, witty, beautiful, strong women of LBD. Now that’s a tough act of to follow!

Kyle: I had auditioned for Bernie and Jenni for Lookbook like a year ago, so  I knew about them and I knew about LBD around that time.

Ed Clara

If Clara were to make you your very own ice cream flavour, what would you want it want it to be?

Lenne: Ok my ice cream flavour I would hope Clara would make would be a rocky road meets caramel heath bar mix. Maybe she would call it “Rocky Heath”? Or “road of ‘mel”? Or just simply “Best Ever”.

Kyle and Joel’s responses:

Kyle requested that Lenne come up with the ingredients for his, and Joel requested that Lenne name his:

Kung Fu Monkey for Kyle: Vanilla/Chocolate Ice cream swirl, Banana, Chocolate fudge, Lychee, and Walnut.

Sci-Fi Phantagorium for Ed: Mint Chip Ice Cream, gummy bears in the shape of Star Wars figures, and hunks of bubble gum.

Joel’s is named: Vegan Vengeance

Tom’s is named: Boring Grown-Up Cold Stuff

Joel, Kyle and Lenne had so much to say that we’ve split this into two parts, so this is part one of two. You can read part 2 here. Also, don’t miss our special video segment of my interviews with Kyle and Joel.

Kyle, Joel and Lenne can be found online in the following places:

Lenne Klingaman: Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook

Kyle Walters: Twitter | Tumblr | FacebookActor Website | Art/Design Website

Joel Bryant: Twitter | Tumblr | FacebookActor Website

Author: Hannah W.

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