College is the place people tend to begin friendships that last a lifetime. But what if those friends you made turned out to be buddies from a past life? That’s the gist of Spiral, a new seven-part web series debuting Sept. 6.
Kailey Spear, Cody Kearsley, Corteon Moore, Louriza Tronco, Angela Palmer, Brennan Clost, Alexandra Beaton and Enuka Okuma topline the project about college students who realize they’ve been connected over multiple lifetimes … and the murder of a classmate threatens them all. For co-creator and executive producer Andrew Williamson, who has worked in reality television with projects like Gastown Gamble and Emergency Room: Life and Death at VGH, Spiral has been a long time coming.
“Spiral is an idea that I’ve had for a really long time,” Williamson says over the phone from Vancouver. “This idea that friends could be joined by something that had happened in the past. It’s always been something that I’ve been interested in.” He adds that writing isn’t his strong suit, so he contacted Karen McClellan—currently co-showrunner at The Next Step—to flesh out the idea. After securing development money from Creative BC, the pair set up a writing room in Toronto with McClellan, Daegan Fryklind, Ian Carpenter and Felicia Brooker with Jocelyn Cornforth as story consultant and story editor. Then Telus stepped into the picture with web series funding and filming began in and around Victoria, B.C.
“They’re the only people commissioning original digital content in this way,” Williamson says. “This project was inherently meant to be for a digital audience.” Spiral is aimed at the 13-21 demographic, the same group Williamson says Facebook is targeting with their online videos. He hopes the unconventional storyline Spiral offers allows for a deeper connection with the online audience and encourages discussion about whether or not past lives are a reality, if dreams can be portents and if someone you’ve met for the very first time and connect with means you’ve known them before.
The first episode of seven introduces Emma (Beaton), Clark (Clost), Alex (Palmer), Sophie (Spear), Grace (Tronco), Davis (Moore) and Josh (Kearsley), students at Victoria’s King’s College who build friendships and make quick connections. By episode end, one of them is dead, and the dreams the group members have been experiencing are explored to unlock the mystery.
“One night over a few bottles of wine, they discover they have all had this dream in common from different points of view and the suggestion is it could be a past life they’ve all shared,” McClellan says from Toronto. “What they discover is that they’ve shared many lives together and that they’re a soul cluster: souls who have travelled through time.” Each eight-minute episode brings the viewer deeper into the mystery; McClellan tackled writing a web project the same way she does a traditional television series, breaking it down into acts and posing a cliffhanger at the end of each act.
“It’s looking for that hook,” she says. “What’s going to drive your viewer to click to the next episode? And by the end of the 70 minutes, you feel satisfied … but you also want more. TV is still my first love, and always will be, but being able to tell a serialized story through a web series and test the concept is very exciting and the closest we have in Canada to shooting a pilot.”
Spiral‘s seven-episode first season will be available online beginning Wednesday, Sept. 6.
Images courtesy of Off Island Media.