Thursday, September 10, 2015

Carmilla draws massive audience at Fan Expo

Perhaps one of the greatest changes of the digital revolution in recent years has been the way the entertainment industry discovers its stars of tomorrow.

In the mid-2000s, Myspace was the hot spot for discovering musical talent. Then, attention quickly shifted to YouTube. Not only have some of music's top artists, such as Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendez, been discovered there, television executives have taken ground-breaking YouTube programming to mainstream television channels, capitalizing on the viewing audiences they've come to draw.

Some of these programs have amassed viewer-ships that are equal to, if not greater than, some of the most popular shows on network and cable TV. In 2007, Canadian writer and producer Damian Kindler, a major contributor to the Stargate franchise, created the eight-part series Sanctuary, with each webisode running seven to 10 minutes.

After witnessing the number of views each episode received on the video streaming site, the broadcast rights were bought by American channel Syfy, which picked it up and expanded it into an hour-long drama for a 13-episode first season in October 2008. It became the highest rated original series on both Syfy and Space in Canada, and Kindler produced 59 hour-long episodes over four seasons.

We've now come a great deal farther than that with Carmilla.

Elise Bauman
Based on the novella of the same name by Sheridan Le Fanu. the Canadian web series, starring Elise Bauman and Natasha Negovanlis, premièred a little over a year ago on the Vervegirl YouTube channel, and each of the three-to-seven minute 36 episodes of its first season boasts more than 21 million views.

It's really not hard though to see why. Not only is it highly praised for its near all-female cast and representation of various LGBT characters, Bauman's portrayal of Laura Hollis, a student of the fictional Silas University in Styria, Austria, is astounding. Hollis awakens one morning after a party to the disappearance of her roommate and is suddenly assigned a mysterious new roommate named Carmilla.

In the clip below during a live reading on Friday of a recent episode, Bauman and Negovanlis did a little role reversal.

In addition to the series capitalizing on the ongoing love affair teens, tweens and young adults and the LGBTQ community still has with tales of vampires and all things that go bump in the night (e.g., The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, The Walking Dead, Lost Girl and Supernatural), Bauman, who has the camera squarely on her much of the time, is mesmerizing in her delivery.

At Fan Expo Canada, which wrapped up another successful convention in Toronto over the weekend, more than 500 devotees of the series camped out Friday from 9 a.m. for a panel at 5 p.m., maxing out capacity in Room 701A of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre's south building.

There's a great deal of competition out there for viewership, and the Internet is burning it up. Carmilla's second season is online now, and cast and fans alike anxiously await the announcement of a third-season order from sponsor U by Kotex.

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