The recent surge of literary webseries on YouTube have brought new life to some previously under-appreciated classic novels. But the production of Joseph Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla, a Gothic novella from 1871, hasn’t just reinvented the story of a possibly lesbian vampire and the girl who may be lover or victim. They have transformed it into a story centered around female relationships, and the moments of untapped courage that we all find at crucial times in our lives.
I haven’t made a secret of my adoration for the series over the last ten months, and as season 2 began filming, I wondered (just like every Creampuff, as fans of the series are fondly called) what new mysteries Laura and her tenacious gang would encounter next. Steph Ouaknine, producer at Smokebomb Entertainment, kindly agreed to chat about their work thus far, and their hopes for the new series.
What is one aspect of filming the new season that had you bouncing in your seat as you planned it?
Steph Ouaknine: What a great question! In general, it was the feeling of returning to the same world and exploring it further that was incredibly exciting. We jumped right into “play mode,” rather than spending time to define the world and figure it out, plus our returning cast already knew their characters inside and out.
Another aspect was our shooting location, The Darling Mansion in Toronto, which gave us not only the atmosphere we wanted, but an entire house to really feel like we were at Silas University. Finally, the stakes are higher this season, so tackling the difficult scenes was also very fun—and heartbreaking. Jordan [Hall, series writer/creator] doesn’t give in to fear. 😉
Were there any takeaways from season 1 that the cast and crew have built up or improved upon in season 2?
Steph Ouaknine: We were lucky to have more resources at our disposal during production, which made this (still crazy) process much more manageable. Whenever you return to a series, you also already know who your main players are, and have more freedom to tailor the writing to the actors’ strengths.
As a POC viewer, I was delighted to hear about the team casting more diverse actors. Are we likely to see new settings or cultures in the series as well?
We are MORE than delighted as well. It was a necessity. What a joy to go union (season 1 of Carmilla was a non-union shoot) and have access to performers like Shannon Kook, Sophia Walker, Nicole Stamp, and Ian D. Clark. We’re already up to episode 8, and very soon we’ll delve deeper into the mythos surrounding Mattie, The Board of Governors, and the fine people at Silas…plus, what is up with the Latin?
It doesn’t take more than five minutes on Carmilla’s various social media outlets to see how much fan interaction has done for the series. What are some of your favourite ideas or bits of headcanon from the fandom, and have they made their way into either season?
Favourite headcanon? You’re playing a dangerous game. I’d prefer to keep my head. 😉
How has working on Carmilla helped you develop as a consumer of media? Are there specific aspects of it that you would love to see brought out into “mainstream”/traditional media?
Mainstream—and by mainstream, I mean the studio system—is slowly hurtling towards niche development as well, and I couldn’t be happier about it. In this climate, it’s the strength of a storyworld, its razor-sharp specific audience, and word-of-mouth that bring people to the table. Jill Soloway’s a terrific writer, but if she were on a show broader than “Transparent,” would we have been exposed to her writing? Even NBC has toyed with the binge model with “Aquarius.” More buyers—especially on digital platforms—mean more shows and more niches served. What a time to be alive!
Catch Carmilla every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30 pm EST on VerveGirlTV. Missed out on season 1? Check out the playlist below!