It is a common misconception that web video is merely the reposting of traditional TV content online, or just a series of inane home videos. Of course,we know that’s not the case. What’s more, there are some projects that really utilize the multi-platform nature of the internet in very creative ways. One such example is Milly Sanders’ Meet Me in the Graveyard, a gothic, psychological thriller playing in semi-weekly installments on the internet.
Unlike a lot of other online series which could more readily translate into different media, Meet Me in the Graveyard is intended to be a lonelygirl15-ish, “immersive Web experience,” according to Sanders, using MySpace not only as a platform the video hosting, but also as a vehicle for Graveyard meta-fiction.
It all started when “Viola,” a young woman confined to an institution in Georgia, came across a video posted by a recovering alcoholic named “Ace.” In an incredible coincidence, in the background of Ace’s video, Viola spotted the headstone of her mother, and, alarmingly so, convinced herself that the thing was rising from its resting place.

Viola’s post is the first in a series of video love letters between the unlikely couple. As Ace and Viola start to regularly post weekly messages to one another, they become more attached, while the question of an actual in-person meeting remains to be seen. Without spoiling too much of the story, I can tell you that week by week, we learn more about Viola, a troubled but lovely woman-child, whose mother’s suicide has sadly impaired her sanity, and Ace, a loose canon, living in a halfway house in California.

Truth be told, they’re both nuts.

###As the story unfolds in its 5-minutes posts, it can, at times, come off as tedious.  I think the target audience, whether Sanders realizes it or not, is of the I’m-a-goth-teenager-who-hates-my-parents-and-shops-exclusively-at-Hot-Topic variety with a short attention span. But the idea is incredibly fresh and the videos are well done.

Conceptually speaking, Viola and Ace exist on MySpace in a very unassuming way. While the series is on MySpace TV, Ace and Viola primarily live within two below-the-radar individual profiles. Each profile is constructed to flesh out the characters. Viola’s page has the tinkling, yet haunting accompaniment of a music box, while Ace’s profile, nicknamed “Rosehill Cemetery,” is set against the backdrop of a graveyard photo and a Johnny Cash tune. The meta-fiction spreads to each person’s friends – of real and fictional people – comments, and profile details, but could do more with blogs and photos.

In reality, some folks could – and do – think that the video posts in the Meet Me in the Graveyard series are true.

“Sometimes I feel guilty about the people who believe it’s real,” Sanders said in an interview with Tilzy. But she must feel pretty good about it too. It means they’re doing something right.

The discerning viewer will pick up clues that Viola and Ace are made-up people. (For instance, when was the last time you heard a mentally-ill person of this century say they were in an “insane asylum?”) But one way that Sanders ensures some authenticity in the series is by using two different directors for the characters. “By having one person [Benjamin Epps] direct Ace’s videos, and another [Matthew Thiesen] direct Viola’s, we have too distinct styles for each character. It seems more real that way.”

Sanders says that the show has a finite story and a definite number of episodes already in place (which, not incidentally, adds up to the length of a feature film), and while she thinks that watching the series unfold on MySpace is a more organic experience, the most efficient way to “catch up” is on Graveyard’s YouTube channel.

Meanwhile, for this break-out writer/actor (who also plays the loony PYT), the series perfectly captures Sanders interests and influences as an artist. “I love the genre of domestic horror, people in their spaces, stories about men and women – all with gothic influences…There’s always the possibility of the supernatural.”

When I asked Sanders if Viola and Ace will ever meet face to face, she wouldn’t reveal to me one way or another, but did say that in her most recent installment, Viola pulls a 90DayJane and sets a “suicide clock,” thereby upping the ante.

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