Some of my favourite films are Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries. It started with This is Spinal Tap and continued with Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. They hilariously skewer, respectively, the life of a rock band in decline, dog shows and folk music festivals.
So, I love Crave’s newest original series, New Eden.
Created by, written and starring Kayla Lorette and Evany Rosen, the eight-part first seasonâ€”dropping Wednesday on Craveâ€”takes the mickey out of true-crime documentaries. Spanning the 1970s, 80s and 90s, New Eden tracks the beginning and end of a feminist utopia based out of small-town B.C. Though Katherine Wryfield (Lorette) and Grace Lee (Rosen) have good intentions for the group of ladies they assemble, the community quickly devolves into drug-addled, alien-goddess worshipping chaos and murder.
We spoke to Lorette and Rosen about the series’ creation, assembling the cast and showrunning.
If someone tunes in and don’t understand, they’re going to think that this is real. Well done.
Kayla Lorette: Â That was our goal. That’s great.
Evany Rosen: Â We’ll trick everyone.
This wasn’t the first pitch that you took to Carrie Mudd at Peacock Entertainment. This was something that came up after having a conversation with her. Is that true?
KL: We were doing this live improv show called Network Notes, where we played two network executives with bad opinions, but a lot of power. That was how we got in with Carrie. Evany had a working relationship with her, but in talking it through we were like, ‘This is maybe an impossible show, maybe a bad idea and too inside baseball.’ That left us to put our heads together and come up with this, which is honestly a much better idea.
Was this an idea that the two of you were kicking around as a result of speaking to Carrie or you both already true crime fans?
ER: Oh, we were both already true crime fans, longstanding. As Kayla said, I had worked with Carrie on a couple of other shows and then she said, ‘Do you have anything you want to pitch right now?’ We started just chatting about what kind of narratives interested us and I guess what was the most terrifically ambitious idea we could possibly have, and New Eden was born.
Kayla, why did you decide to present it straight?
KL: We’ve seen people do true crime send-ups previously, but within those structures, we found that often the stakes were quite low and played for high. We were interested in building a show that was funny but also had extremely high stakes. You know, the bodies are real as the violence is real. And, also, we just really wanted to send up the true crime genre as well as we could and as accurately as we could. We didn’t want to poke fun at the genre itself, we wanted to play within the balance of the genre because we love it. I wanted to make sure we were showing up for them and doing our job to build a tight true crime story and a tight documentary.
Evany, you have co-stars like Nikki Duval, Melody Johnson and David Ingram involved. People I automatically think of as being comedic, but New Eden is surprisingly dark. Was that the goal from the very beginning?
ER: Yeah. In our writing process we started by building out, but quite seriously what we thought was a pretty airtight true-crime narrative. Always trusting because of our comedy backgrounds that the comedy would really come from character and the absurdity would come from how these characters reacted to this kind of absurd situation they found themselves in. So yeah, we really wanted to find a balance of extreme comedy but also a pretty intense relationship with the centre of the story and some really dramatic moments.
How did the writing on New Eden work? Does one of you do a draft, pass it over to the other one and work on it?Â
KL: It was an ever-changing process as we figured out. On top of it being the first time we’ve written a project together, we were breaking kind of a new style itself. We had to figure out a style to articulate a documentary, so we were writing an edit, we were writing in picture inserts and things, we had to develop our own style. That was a whole thing of like, ‘OK, when it’s italicized this is a flashback and when it’s this, it’s this.’
We would spend hours and hours and hours world-building. We just would talk about it nonstop. That was the first step, which involved what we call a voluntary work trip to Ottawa, so we’d be forced to work. Then we had a writer’s room to help us break story and punch things up, but I mean I would take turns taking scripts back and forth. Evany’s such a brilliant structure line, so she would get into her lizard mind space, as I like call it, and do these beautiful, beautiful structural pieces. Then we pass back some dialogue and punching up and it’s ever-evolving as different challenges came up episode to episode, cause they’re all quite different as well.
You’ve got this huge cast of characters, how did you go about picking who you want to be part of the show? Was it people that you worked with before?
KL: Yeah, it was a big mix. We were really ambitious with the numbers because we want our world to feel really full. We come from such a wonderful, diverse and rich community of comedians that we were able to cast a lot from our own community. And the show itself is kind of a love letter to the Toronto comedy community as it is right now, and that we’re very proud of.
And then beyond that, we had a great casting process and met new people that walked into the room and we were like, ‘Well that’s the character.’
What kind of showrunners do you find yourselves being after this experience?Â
KL: Oh my goodness, we learned so much. I think overall, I would say the kind of showrunners that we strove to be and I think we are on the other end of that is just collaborators. The collaboration was so essential to us. And again, that seems like something that people would just say, but we really mean it. Our creative team, everyone that kind of came in and bought into the thing and were a part of our team and a part of our world, that trust and that collaboration just enhanced everything and it was amazing. The people that we got to work with, our creative team is just jaw-dropping.
ER: The collaborative practice between us was a given, but we really tried to lead with that example and lean on each other and let our harmonious working relationship and our years of collaboration trickle down and be the standard for how we wanted to work and how we wanted people to work together.
KL: Evany challenges me to be better and vice versa, I hope, but we wanted that across the board for all our teams to be like, ‘We’ve worked this hard, we’ve thought about this this hard, we want you to buy in and have the space to show your best work.’ And everyone always just striving for the best and the best of the best and questioning like, ‘Is this enough? Can we push this further?’ And I think we did that and I feel very proud. We’re both very tired now.
ER: Yeah, we’re both tired, but we’re fortunate.
Season 1 of New Eden debuts Wednesday on Crave.
Images courtesy of Bell Media.