The little web series that did
Roxy Bourdillon meets the stars of YouTube phenomenon turned feature film, Carmilla
Ashlea Wessel for Shaftesbury, copyright Shaftesbury
I’m only five minutes into The Carmilla Movie and I’m already gripped. Laura’s tearing down an old-timey corridor, panting in a corseted gown, her heart hammering in her chest and causing mine to do the same, while her 300-year-old ex-vampire girlfriend Carm takes a dip in a literal bloodbath. What the Creampuff is going on?
An hour and a half later, and I’m still buzzing. I’ve just watched a loved up, queer female couple on-screen and neither one was killed off. I’ve seen the LGBTQ gang of my #SquadGoals fantasies fight evil, while being hilarious and diverse. Heck, I’ve even marvelled at a masked ball attended exclusively by luscious ladyghosts and rejoiced at a romantic subplot between two queer women of colour (it’s about time smart-mouthed Mel got some action). From a two and a half minute webisode in 2014 to a full-on feature film in 2017, oh Carmilla, the little lesbian vampire “web series that could”, bloody bravo.
As a fan of the show who has eagerly binged all three series, I can’t wait to jump on a three-way trans-atlantic call with its Canadian stars Natasha Negovanlis, who plays broody rock chick vampire Carmilla Karnstein, and her on-screen paramour, Elise Bauman, perhaps more familiar to you as crusading, well-meaning, if slightly tightly wound, reporter Laura Hollis.
“I chose to be an actor so that I could tell stories and connect with other human beings,” Natasha explains earnestly. As Carmilla, she’s been around forever, seen everything and is consequently moved by very little, but out of character, Natasha is far more compassionate. “I feel extremely lucky, especially as an openly queer actor who plays a queer character. That’s really special.” It’s special for viewers too. Watching two out actors portray dream duo “Hollstein” provides an extra frisson and makes Natasha and Elise’s passion for positive queer representation all the more powerful.
Like Natasha, Elise is thoughtful and eloquent, acknowledging: “It’s pretty revolutionary that the two leads of the show are in a same-sex relationship. To be able to have a story that’s centred around the relationship, but not have it only be about the fact that they’re queer, is still something that is not seen that often.” Natasha agrees, adding, “We don’t make their sexual identities the forefront of the story, but at the same time it’s not just subtext. We aren’t afraid to say the word ‘lesbian’ or have a non-binary character or a queer woman of colour. The fact that our fans can see themselves reflected on-screen as the heroes is what makes the show really unique. I read a GLAAD media report last year that found that only 5% of on-screen characters are members of the LGBTQ community, and that’s gotta change.”
Read the rest of our exclusive interview in the December issue of DIVA, available to buy in print or digitally here.
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