Like many Canadian actors, Kelly McCormack was plotting a move to Los Angeles this past January for pilot season. She was so busy packing for the trip, in fact, she almost missed a call from her agent, informing her the audition she’d done for Killjoys had scored her the part of Zeph.
“I’d read the character description and it said, ‘farm girl turned androgynous science nerd,’ and I said, ‘Well this is me,'” she recalls with a laugh. “I walked in with no makeup on, dressed in a black hoodie with a Dillinger Four t-shirt on over top—teenage boy from the 90s in my jam—and I went as weird and eccentric as I possibly could.” A week later, she was prepping for L.A. and had slept in. Her agent had been trying to contact her. She’d booked the role on the Space drama and had to be at a table read in an hour. McCormack’s Zeph has made an immediate impact on the trio of Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), Johnny (Aaron Ashmore) and D’avin (Luke MacFarlane), acing her initiation test and now part of the Killjoys squad. The Vancouver native couldn’t divulge too much information about Zeph’s Season 3 adventures other than to say she’s in awe of Dutch and runs afoul of Johnny in her season-long arc. (The whole running afoul of Johnny happens this Friday, BTW. It is awesome.)
The fast-paced shoot-em-up of Killjoys couldn’t be more different than McCormack’s other project, The Neddeaus of Duqesne Island. Currently streaming on the CBC’s website, the 10 episodes are comedy’s version of the found-footage genre that exploded thanks to The Blair Witch Project.
Created by Aaron Schroeder and produced by CBC and McCormack’s Floyder Films, The Neddeaus is presented as a controversial 1970s documentary lost in the CBC’s archives. Stories of it were spoken of in hushed tones at the network, with folks like David Suzuki, Graham Greene and former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien all speaking on-camera about the series. The hook? It’s all fake, but like The Blair Witch, comes off as totally authentic.
Schroeder, an acquaintance of McCormack’s gave her a call one day, seeking a producer for his project; it was weird enough to catch her interest. After shooting a pilot, showing it to friends and being told it was amazing but too strange to be made into a series, they pitched it to CBC, who jumped on board. The result is an odd, engaging and ultimately heartfelt look at a faux family eking out a living on an island in Northern Ontario. Descendants of the Acadians, the Neddeaus utter an odd Newfoundland-ish hybrid language sprinkled with nonsense sayings only a family living away from the rest of the world would use. Cameras—and narration from Colin Mochrie—capture the day-to-day life of son Elmer (Schroeder), daughters Elène (Caitlyn Driscoll) and Eloida (McCormack), father Bichon (Tim Walker) and mother ‘Vangeline (Tara Samuel), who carry on the religion of their forefather and subsisting entirely on potatoes. Once a year they trek to town via boat to stock up on supplies they need to survive.
The key to making The Neddeaus seem real? Introducing each episode with the old CBC logo from the era it’s set in, keeping the cast’s names off the credits until Episode 10, the wardrobe, and extensive post-production work. McCormack says everyone involved pored over old CBC and National Film Board documentaries to get a feel for what The Neddeaus should look and sound like.
“It’s a comedy show, but it’s made by cinephiles,” McCormack says. “We spent hundreds of hours making sure we coloured the footage the way 70s footage picks up the blue and green in a way that HD doesn’t. We looked up how, when a camera is moving at this speed—or at what temperature—will a frame be blurred?”
Even more fun than the 10 episodes themselves is Not for Broadcast: The Lost Documentary The Neddeaus, where the aforementioned Greene, Suzuki, visual researcher Elizabeth Klinck, journalist Nerene Virgin and Chrétien all weigh in on the fabled project. Landing Chrétien was a major coup for McCormack, who was allowed five minutes with the former prime minister to explain what the heck she was making and what he needed to say.
“I’m sitting there, explaining a fake documentary about a fake documentary to him,” she says. “I nudged my cameraman and said, ‘You better be rolling!’ I was drenched in sweat and so nervous. But it was gold.”
All 10 episodes of The Neddeaus of Duqesne Island are available on CBC’s website. Killjoys airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on Space.
Neddeaus images courtesy of CBC. Killjoys image courtesy of Bell Media.