Tag Archives: Shaftesbury

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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Frankie Drake Mysteries roars into Season 2

From a media release:

Production has begun on the second season ofShaftesbury’s 1920s-set FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES, a co-production with CBC and UKTV and distributed by Kew Media Group. Season one saw secrets emerge from Frankie’s tightly hidden past, from discovering her mother alive and working as a con woman, to her friends uncovering her past as a spy. In the sophomore season, cases will take Frankie and her team of gal pals across prohibition-era Toronto, from renowned museums and high fashion houses, to dance halls and baseball leagues. Season one of the series garnered an audience average of 782,000 on CBC, making it CBC’s second-most-watched drama of the current broadcast season*. Starring Lauren Lee Smith (The Shape of Water, The Listener, The L Word), the homegrown hit series will film on location in Ontario this summer.

FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES stars Smith as the private eye with a mysterious past, Frankie Drake; Chantel Riley (RaceThe Lion King) as Frankie’s fearless and clever partner, Trudy Clarke; Rebecca Liddiard (Alias Grace, Slasher: Guilty Party) as keen police morality officer, Mary Shaw; and Sharron Matthews (Mean GirlsOdd Squad) as spirited morgue attendant, Flo Chakowitz. Wendy Crewson (The Detail, SlasherSaving Hope) will return as Frankie’s occasional-con-woman mother, Nora; as well as Grace Lynn Kung (Mary Kills People, The Carmilla Movie, Star Trek: Discovery) as café and speakeasy owner, Wendy Quon; along with new guest stars for this season including: Natalie Brown (The Strain, Dark Matter, Channel Zero), Steve Byers (Slasher, Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, Far Cry 5), Lara Jean Chorostecki (Designated Survivor, X Company, Hannibal), Alan Davies (Jonathan Creek, Damned, The Bromley Boys), Anthony Lemke (Blindspot, Dark Matter, The Listener), Romane Portail (Fearless, Sense8, Urban Jungle), and Vincent Walsh (The Fall, Played, Deception).

FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES series one launched on UKTV’s Alibi channel in January 2018. The show remains one of Alibi’s top-performing shows of the year alongside Murdoch Mysteries and is up 210% on slot on average.

Season two episodes will be directed by Ruba Nadda (helming five episodes as lead director), Cal Coons, Peter Stebbings, and Sudz Sutherland, and written by co-creator Carol Hay, showrunner James Hurst, Andrew Burrows-Trotman, John Callaghan, Cal Coons, and Jessie Gabe.

Set in 1920s Toronto, FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES follows the city’s only female private detectives as they take on the cases the police don’t want to touch. In a time of change and hopefulness, their gender is their biggest advantage as they defy expectations and rebel against convention. Their cases take them through every cross-section of Toronto, meeting people of all backgrounds and means, as well as historical characters, along the way. Frankie and Trudy’s fearless sense of adventure gets them into all kinds of trouble, but they always manage to find a way out. They are new detectives for a new world – but is the world ready for them?

Created by Carol Hay and Michelle Ricci, FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES is executive produced by Christina Jennings, Scott Garvie, Carol Hay, and James Hurst, who also serves as showrunner; Ruba Nadda serves as lead director/co-executive producer, John Callaghan and Jessie Gabe co-executive produce, and Teresa Ho is producer. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Programming; Helen Asimakis is Senior Director, Scripted Content; and Melanie Nepinak Hadley is Executive in Charge of Production. Bonnie Brownlee is Executive Director, Marketing.

A CBC original series, FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES is developed and produced by Shaftesbury in association with CBC and UKTV, with the participation of the Canada Media Fund, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, and the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit. Kew Media Group is the global distributor of the series.

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Shaftesbury’s forecast calls for new series The Weather Girl Knows

From a media release:

In advance of MIPTV, leading content company Shaftesbury, in partnership with WexWorks Media, have acquired the rights to The Weather Girl Knows, a popular Japanese format by TV Asahi.

The Weather Girl Knows is a quirky procedural with weather being the key to unlocking puzzling crimes, with clues as unpredictable as next week’s forecast. Partnering an oddball weather girl (who’s also a brilliant climatologist) with a rookie detective, each week they investigate mysteries of murder and ball lightning, hurricanes and hijacking. These strange bedfellows might just make the perfect pair to solve the most tempestuous crimes.

“The Weather Girl Knows is a procedural crime drama, with real-world science at its core. The format has been a huge success in Japan and we are thrilled to bring these characters to new audiences,” said Christina Jennings, Chairman and CEO, Shaftesbury.

“I knew TV Asahi had created something special the minute I saw The Weather Girl Knows. I’m sure it will resonate with audiences around the globe and I couldn’t be more excited to be working with Christina and her team,” said Matthew Wexler, CEO and Executive Producer, WexWorks Media.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to work with Shaftesbury and WexWorks Media on bringing The Weather Girl Knows to the worldwide audience. The script is unique yet universal and is bound to capture the hearts and imaginations of the global audience,” said Yuka Kakui, Head of Format Development and Sales, TV Asahi.

 

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Link: Christina Jennings: A lifetime in TV

From Jesse Whittock of TBI Vision:

Link: Christina Jennings: A lifetime in TV
“Younger companies should not be fearful of new models – be prepared to think out of the box and think of partnerships in different ways. The first film this company ever did was a coproduction with a UK company, and we’re still doing them. We’ve expanded that now to New Zealand and are looking at Canada-France coproductions too. It’s also worth remembering coproduction is about making sure your creative is solid and that you don’t end up wasting time with no creative leader.” Continue reading. 

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Link: Women Behind Canadian TV: Christina Jennings

From Kelly Townsend of The TV Junkies:

Link: Women Behind Canadian TV: Christina Jennings
“It’s important to do and it’s important as a company, actually, to stay in touch with the young people coming up behind us. If you’re there at the CFC, at Sheridan or Humber, and you’ve given some time, you’ve done a course, you had them in to intern here at the company, and they have a project, they may just come to you first. It’s always about looking for the next generation of people behind you. And we think the way to do that is to give back.” Continue reading.

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