Online mystery videos revealed as an ‘experiment in storytelling,’ say creators

By The Associated Press

The creators behind the Internet video mystery teen Lonelygirl15 have revealed themselves and want their fans to know they are not a front for a big Hollywood studio marketing some upcoming film.

Instead, the three friends launched the adventures of 16-year-old “Bree” as an experiment in storytelling that they intend to continue on their own Web site that was launched Tuesday.

Bree’s inventors went public after fans of the two- to three-minute videos began questioning her existence and expressing disappointment that the seemingly genuine video diaries were a hoax.

The creators identified themselves to The Associated Press as Miles Beckett, 28, of Woodland Hills, Calif.; Mesh Flinders, 26, of Petaluma, Calif., and Greg Goodfried, 27, of Los Angeles.

The short videos began appearing on the Web sites YouTube and MySpace in June. The creators said Tuesday that they never intended to stage a hoax or trick people into believing their characters were real.

Rather, they intended to begin posting elements of the story online and then incorporate reactions and suggestions from fans into the plot.

The result was part video game, where viewers exercise some measure of control over the characters, and part mystery novel, complete with hidden clues and cliffhanger chapters that left viewers wanting more.

Flinders writes scripts for each “episode” and the actress playing Bree delivers her lines with a persuasive power that still has some online viewers believing she is genuine.

The revelation that Bree was fake initially angered fans on YouTube, who suspected Lonelygirl15 was a slick Hollywood attempt to advertise some upcoming movie or TV show.

But since the creators revealed the fictitious nature of the show last week, the number of people subscribing to the channel on YouTube has skyrocketed.

“Just because I know a movie isn’t real isn’t going to stop me from watching it,” Alexandra Inman, a 17-year-old fan from St. Louis, said Tuesday. “I’m there for the entertainment.”

Bree’s adventures will continue on a new Web site created in conjunction with the online syndication network Revver.

As far as what happens to Bree next or just how long “Season One” will last, the creators themselves are unsure. Stay tuned.