Tag Archives: Carmilla

Carmilla stars shine in their original web series CLAIREvoyant

I predict CLAIREvoyant will be a hit. No, I don’t need tarot cards or mind-reading to come to that conclusion. The key to the web series’ success—the first 10 episodes are available now on KindaTV—is in the story and relatability of the lead characters created by Annie Briggs and Natasha Negovanlis.

There is an instant likeability to Claire (Negovanlis) who, on her 25th birthday is handed an eviction notice. Now she and roommate/best friend Ruby (Briggs), have to collect back rent—fast—in order to keep their place. Their idea? Pose as online fortune tellers to cash in quickly. Easier said than done, especially when Claire discovers she may actually be, well, clairvoyant.

I spoke to Negovanlis and Briggs about CLAIREvoyant‘s genesis, writing and producing their own projects and representing the LGBTQ community.

Before we get into the story and characters, congratulations on the production values. CLAIREvoyant looks amazing.
Natasha Negovanlis: Thank you. We were very lucky to have Shaftesbury attached to this and I think it really added to the high production value.

Natasha, you and Annie came up with this idea while you bonded over your mutual obsession with fortune telling. What fascinated you about fortune tellers?
NN: It’s a number of things. Both Annie and I are interested in certain aspects of spirituality and divination. It was an interest I’ve had since I was a little girl. We grew up in the 90s when witches were very popular. [Laughs.] I think why supernatural-themed shows really resonate with a lot of LGBTQ folk like myself is this feeling of being the other. A feeling of being an outsider. I’ve always felt like that so I think that’s why I gravitated towards topics that were a little less mainstream. And, also, the way Annie and I were both raised; we both have family members who are a little bit spiritual or into these things as well.

But the seedling to CLAIREvoyant was that I was getting my nails done in this salon and I saw this woman and overheard her talking. She had read my tarot cards before and it was one of those $10 neon sign walk-in situations. I went mainly for the entertainment value but I was so fascinated with it. I started eavesdropping on her conversation. One day when Annie and I were hanging out and talking about that, I said, ‘Are they able to sustain themselves doing that?’ ‘Do they really have a gift or do they believe they have a gift?’ I was so interested in who they were as human beings outside of that work and we started talking about it, spitballing it and coming up with these really silly characters. The next day we texted each other and said, ‘I think we’re on to something.’

You have a built-in fan base thanks to Carmilla. How do you keep them in mind when creating something new?
Annie Briggs: The online community has been very vocal, in a very positive way, about what speaks to them and in terms of what makes them feel heard and what’s hurtful. For sure, we wanted to maintain that audience and honour them. But then, it’s also our responsibility as creators to maintain the integrity of these characters, their own traits and plotlines.

NN: It’s very much a balancing act as well. As a creator, you have a responsibility, I think to change the narrative. As two very progressive female creators, we certainly feel that. Something that was very important to us was having a female director in Simone Stock, for example. There were those aspects to it as well. And then, of course, the Carmilla audience is largely an LGBTQ audience and being a queer role model is very important to me personally, so we did write Claire as a queer character who is vastly different from Carmilla. We wanted to create a show that would expand our audience as well.

You’ve already spoken about queer characters. There are a few TV shows out there, like Wynonna Earp, that features queer characters but the web series seems to be the place to go for queer characters. Why do you think that is?
NN: I think that when you don’t have the extra layer of a network or broadcaster, you have a little bit more freedom to tell the stories you want to tell and I think digital allows people to tell stories that don’t fit into a neat box. More and more we’re seeing networks take on stories like Wynonna Earp, but the people who are in power for a long time have fit into one particular group for a long time. I think that’s starting to change, and as a digital creator, you can tell the stories you want to tell.

AB: And with digital, we’re seeing more risk-taking because of all of the things Natasha just spoke about. It’s a great incubation and testing ground. On a lower budget, you can tell a story, see where it lands, who it resonates with and if it has legs to extend beyond if that’s the trajectory of the project.

Natasha, this is your first writing and producing credit, correct?
NN: This is the first time I’ve been able to work as a writer and producer. I had always written poetry and short stories and used to write sketch comedy, but I had never been able to work on a set as a writer. It was a really wonderful experience for me and I was fortunate because I was working with Annie, who is so talented and has written before. She wrote Luvvie, which is an amazing short film, and we had another writer on board too. It was really nice to bounce ideas off one another. Our skillset really compliments one another.

Season 1 of CLAIREvoyant can be seen on KindaTV’s YouTube channel.

Images courtesy of Bartholomew J. Nowak for Shaftesbury.

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Web series Step Sisters is hilarity on a shoestring budget

Web series have taught me that if you’ve got a great idea and some gumption, you can create something wonderful. Maddy Foley and Sharon Belle have gone one further, proving you don’t need a huge budget to create something wonderful.

The duo needed just $500 to write, direct and produce 17 episodes of Step Sisters, a raunchy, biting, hilarious and heartfelt sketch comedy web series—available now on YouTube—about two best friends, Maddy and Sharon, who discuss life while sitting on the steps outside a house. Belle and Foley met on the set of fellow web series Allie and Lara Make a Horror Movie and made offhand jokes during downtime in production. Belle says the idea of “Step Sisters … they sit on steps,” was laughed about and then dismissed. Three months later the pair reunited and decided to write something.

“We didn’t really know where to start and we were like, ‘What about Step Sisters? Was that a legit idea?” Belle recalls with a laugh. “Was that anything at all? We explored it and it turned into this world.” It’s an odd and realistic world. Sandwiched between an infectious musical theme written by Adam Parkinson, Maddy and Sharon analyze the minutiae of the world from the steps in front of their apartment.

Maddy Foley (l) and Sharon Belle

In Episode 1, Maddy is shocked when Sharon emerges from their place wearing a patch over her right eye. When Maddy blurts out, “Oh my god!” Sharon waves a dismissive hand and thinks Maddy’s shock is at the ugly sweater she’s wearing. Nope, it’s the patch Maddy noticed. Turns out there is some major pink eye going on under there. Minutes are spent talking about the eye infection, and whether Sharon should be going to the party or a doctor before the patch is lifted and Maddy throws up. The five-minute instalment is simple, effective, funny and totally relatable.

Basic plot points served as outlines for each episode of Step Sisters, but everything else was almost completely improvised and delivered in a single take, giving the series—filmed over the course of four days in Toronto—a realistic and frenetic feel.

“Ever since we met, we realized that the best stuff that we got in a scene was always the improvised bits,” Belle says. “Going into this we said we needed to keep that freedom because that’s where the funny comes out.” There was no writer’s room for Belle and Foley; they met in the former’s living room to hash out initial ideas before taking advantage of common room space at the University of Toronto to talk about their lives and improvise scenes. Friends were called upon to help in the production of Step Sisters; the pair admits they owe a lot of favours.

And while the $500 budget was a challenge, it didn’t stop the pair from creating something great.

“I feel like the budget really helped,” Foley says. “We went into this project knowing we wouldn’t be spending any more than that. It clarified the vision and it put limits on what we could do that was almost freeing.”

Season 1 of Step Sisters is available on YouTube now.

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TV Eh B Cs podcast 78 — The Amazing Grace Lynn Kung

A Canadian Screen Award nominee for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy, Grace Lynn Kung has won the Chancellor’s Trophy (OSSD), is a two-time Award for Acting recipient (York) and holds two Certificates of Distinction for Speech and Drama from Trinity College London.

This year she has incited violence aboard Star Trek: Discovery, lobbied Washington with Jessica Chastain in Miss Sloane, risen in ranks as Congresswoman Yoshida on Designated Survivor, met her demise in Cult of Chucky and cultivated Mars on The Expanse. She has aided Corey Stoll in Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain, scarcely kept it together on Slings and Arrows, fought Amanda Schull on 12 Monkeys, and played special agent JoJo Kwan on the spy series InSecurity.

Grace directed her first short film, A False Sense of Security, which premiered and won Special Jury Mention this summer in Dallas, Texas and has received a 2017 ACTRA Award nomination for her performance in the feature The Death and Life of Carl Naardlinger.
Grace has a Doozers character modelled in her likeness, studied naturopathic medicine in England and if you’ve played Ubisoft’s Far Cry 4, she’s yelled at you. She plays Whiskey Wendy in the 1920s detective series Frankie Drake Mysteries, Charlotte Bronte in the feature Carmilla, was the guest star on the season finale of Mr. D and plays Chairman Mao in HBO’s new adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, out this May, directed by Ramin Bahrani.

She is also looking for Independent Production Fund support for her web series What Got Did.

Listen or download below, or subscribe via iTunes or any other podcast catcher with the TV, eh? podcast feed.

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Link: Carmilla’s young, queer-positive audience sends a message to Canadian TV industry

From Victoria Ahearn of the Canadian Press:

Link: Carmilla’s young, queer-positive audience sends a message to Canadian TV industry
Of all the nominees for the Fan Choice trophy at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards — a list that included prominent TV stars Yannick Bisson and Hélène Joy of CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries, and Daniel Levy of Schitt’s Creek — it was a web star who took the title for the second year in a row. Continue reading.

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Link: ‘The Carmilla Movie’ Sets Streaming, Theatrical Premiere Dates

From Todd Spangler of Variety:

Link: ‘The Carmilla Movie’ Sets Streaming, Theatrical Premiere Dates
“The Carmilla Movie,” based on the lesbian-vampire romance web series that has become a cult favorite, is set to hit the internet — as well as theaters in Canada — next month.

The film will be available to fans who pre-ordered the film from Vimeo’s VHX beginning Oct. 26. Then on Oct. 27, “The Carmilla Movie” will hit subscription VOD service Fullscreen, the exclusive worldwide streaming home for the film. Continue reading.

 

 

 

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