Carmilla Races For The Finish Line In Season Three – Look! It Moves! by Adi Tantimedh
Adi Tantimedh writes,
Carmilla is the little webseries that could.
Where many other webseries have crashed and burned, it has managed to garner a massive cult following amongst teen girls and 20somethings with its emphasis on geek humour and reconfiguring of J. Sheridan Lefanu's original 19th Century novella.
Where the original novella was a typical gothic horror expression of the male fear of female sexuality and, even worse! – A gay woman, and ended with the death of the title character in a reassertion of the patriarchal order, the updated webseries is a postmodern 21st Century corrective that places its heroines at the centre, empowers them and lets them win. Using Joss Whedon's Buffy as a template, it combines geek references from Harry Potter to Doctor Who with a satire of university campus politics and a supernatural apocalypse being plotted by an evil dean using the students as human sacrifices, with only plucky heroine Laura Hollis and a squabbling Scooby gang of students trying to prevent the end of the world, including the dean's vampire daughter – and Laura's love interest – the sultry and slightly useless Carmilla.
Last Thursday saw the launch of the first seventeen episodes of the third and final season of the series. You could say Carmilla helped put Kinda TV on the map, a recently-rebranded Canadian-based online TV channel on Youtube devoted to a female and LGBT audience. I sat in on a press roundtable with the lead actresses Elise Bauman and Natasha Negovanlis, who play, respectively, Laura Hollis and Carmilla Karnstein.
"There are definitely a lot of Harry Potter references," said Elise Bauman. "The whole season feels very Hogwarts-esque with the magical library. Laura is stuck in a library this year with nothing to do, no crazy mysteries to solve and so she gets bored and starts extreme-crafting. She makes Harry Potter props."
The third season, like the previous seasons, consists of over thirty episodes between four and ten minutes each, all shot in just five days, covering more material in a few days of shooting than more hour-long TV dramas do on their schedules. It amounted to a kind of actor's boot camp.
"I actually found it more challenging this year," said Bauman. "Natasha said it really well in another interview, that in the first season, neither of us had shot a lot of television before, so the pace that we shoot at seemed like 'This is just what we do. This is normal.' We kind of knew that this was a bit crazy, but we didn't know any better. We just absorbed it and rolled with it. It's a year in between every time we shoot, so the first day on set I found it really challenging to think back to that extreme way we filmed, because we'd had experience with other sets and we found the luxury of so mucn time. Rolling back into that sprinting pace was challenging to me."
"For me, I found this season so much easier," said Natasha Negovanlis. "Just because I feel a lot more grounded as an actor and in my character. I'm embarrassingly organized to the point of anal, where I have a system to keep my scripts organized, and learn my lines. It felt okay for me."
The show continues Kinda TV's progressive attitude towards sexuality and representation. Bauman and Negovanlis were asked about being part of that ethos, especially with the appearance of Enrico Colantoni, previously known for playing Veronica Mars' dad, as Laura's father.
"That's one of my favourite aspects of the show," Bauman said. "The sexuality is never in the foreground. It's just the accepted norm and they're dealing with other things. I'm so proud of being part of a series that is changing the standards of LBGTQ representation in the media. This year we did get to delve into it a little bit more. The introduction of a parent figure in the series brings a different aspect of the series we hadn't seen before. Yeah, Laura's dad does know about her sexuality and is very accepting of it. That's not where the conflict lies. It's not about gender or sexuality. It's about "is this the right person or the right vampire for me?" His problem is that Carmilla is a vampire, not because she's a girl. I think it's so special to show a parent figure be supportive and equally proud to work on a series that provides a voice for the LGBT community and especially LGBT youth."
The popularity of the show can be found all over social media with tumblr sits full of gifs, fan art and a big presence on Twitter. This can be traced to the central romance between Laura and Carmilla. You could say their relationship goes through three acts: the first season was the first act where they fall in love. The second season was the second act where the relationship moves out of the infatuation stage and the lovers are forced to face the fact that the other is not the idealized version that they have in their minds and fall out of love. The third season is the third act where they come to accept each other and come back together again.
"So much of the time in mainstream media, you only see the 'falling in love' part," said Bauman. "All these epic love stories like Romeo and Juliet, you don't really see much because they die. You see the initial falling in love and then it ends after the first kiss. What happens after that? It's a lifetime of trials and tribulations and mistakes. In season three, I think it's about a deeper level of recognizing this person on a deeper level maybe isn't the one that you envisioned yourself spending the rest of your life with, and there's going to be heartache within love, and there's going to be challenges and work to make something like it work. I think it's so important to see that it's not just love and fairy tales and happy endings. The ending is about how to co-exist with someone in harmony knowing that you're different people and you have challenges to work through."
"My perspective on season one was it was not really true love," said Negovanlis. "It was infatuation, in my opinion. It was very much lust at first sight. There were a lot of new feelings and confusion. What you see in season three is the 'love" part and what that means, not just shallow attraction. Love can also be a very deep friendship and partnership. I think Carmilla in season two and towards the end realizes it was infatuation, but she does come to love Laura at the end."
"The last six episodes were really special for me because we really peer into the hearts of Laura and Carmilla," said Bauman. "It was the end of the series for us and the last thing that we shot. It was so emotional and a special moment to share with everyone."
"The first and last day of shooting," said Negovanlis. "were probably the most special for me. Season one was very exciting, and then season two and three were like coming home. The last day of shooting for all three seasons I always cry because I feel so lucky to be a) working as an actor, and b) working on something that's so meaningful to not only myself but to a whole community of people. I'm not a big cryer, but I always bawl on the last day."
Carmilla Seasons 1-3 can be viewed on Youtube. The third series is linked here.
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Look! It Moves! © Adisakdi Tantimedh
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