Televisionation: PART 2 - Screen Culture: Interactive Programming Pioneer, Bernie Su

ITVT is pleased to present the latest episode of Televisionation: Screen Culture, our new video series exploring the symbiotic relationship between culture and filmed content—television, streaming, and cinema. Hosted by fandom expert Lisa Crawford, Screen Culture was created for thoughtful discussions about the impact of premium filmed content on today’s society.

In this episode (PART 2) Lisa is joined by Bernie Su, a pioneer of digital and interactive content. Bernie is the founder of 96Next and a three-time Primetime Emmy award-winning interactive creator and showrunner.

His current project is Artificial, the Twitch original live audience-interactive science fiction series now entering its fourth season. The show’s third season was presented under quarantine as weekly two-hour live and interactive episodes that were remotely produced. The series was awarded the Peabody Futures of Media Award and the Primetime Emmy for Innovation in Interactive Media. His other works include The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved, adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels. Known for being two of the iconic interactive series of the era, they represent the first and second Primetime Emmys ever won by YouTube.

Bernie and Lisa discuss his journey from aspiring writer to interactive showrunner, and how the film Big Hero 6 inspired him to take larger and more personal steps in representation—through an Asian American family in Artificial—beyond his initial success with diverse and representative casting of his earlier shows.

The conversation also covers the evolution and future of multiplatform, interactive storytelling and the importance of “consequential” audience engagement—as in Artificial where the audience votes on major decisions that directly impact the series and its characters. Bernie shares how advances in artificial intelligence have already affected the show, and how they might affect artists in the future.

Finally, Lisa and Bernie touch on:

The contrast with scripted television formats that require “story gods.”
How audience interactivity could impact older formats such as multi-camera sitcoms.
How an audience-voted Game of Thrones might have turned out.