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Photo courtesy Kenya Weaver

Alberta-made web series aims for character-driven laughs and unique style

By Matty Hume, October 13 2017 — 

Young people, superpowers, a road trip and a salon chair — put this unusual collection of nouns together and you have Abracadavers, an upcoming coming-of-age comedy web series written, produced and starring Albertans.

The series follows Chris, whose mother died in a mysterious accident involving a hair salon chair. After stealing the chair, Chris develops an unhealthy obsession with the item due to his obsessive compulsive disorder, which starts to negatively impact his life. In an attempt to distract him from his obsession, Chris’s friends decide to take him on a summer road trip. He accepts, but only under the condition that the chair comes along. As the group of friends begin to realize that the chair is somehow giving them supernatural powers, the super-comedy gets into full swing.

Abracadavers received funding from Telus, Storyhive and the National Film Institute. Telus Storyhive is a competition that funds and supports film projects using two rounds of public voting and an internal jury system. Abracadavers successfully achieved pilot funding through the first round of voting and was greenlit by the jury for its first nine episodes after garnering support through the Banff World Media Festival.

The series is the brainchild of SAIT graduates Morgan Ermter and Josef Wright and stars NUTV alum and current University of Alberta student Griffin Cork. Cork says the pilot’s design and cinematography are what set Abracadavers apart from other Storyhive submissions.

“The compliments that I heard were on production design. That’s everything from props to costumes and just general colour scheme,” Cork says. “Lots of yellows and blues, which definitely fits the kind of mood we’re going for. [Production designer Kenya Weaver] did a lovely job with it and all of that mixed with [Wright’s] cinematography. I think it gives a Moonrise Kingdom element to it — the best way I can describe it is like a folklore filter.”

Cork adds that the effort is largely driven by the fact that Abracadavers’ team is made up of young artists getting their start.

“Almost our entire team — that’s production, crew, cast — are all emerging artists,” he says. “We’re under 30 so it’s really nice to work with people that are very hungry.”

While there’s no shortage of superheroes in the current media climate, Cork says the series stands out by using superpowers as a supplement rather than a driving force.

“It’s still a coming-of-age story, so it still follows the kids and their lives,” he says. “The superheroes aren’t the main conflict. More of an accent, or accessory or a curse. It’s still humanized, still people.”

Abracadavers will begin filming in spring 2018 and will be available on Telus Optik TV On Demand and online in fall 2018. For more information on Storyhive visit storyhive.com. To stay updated on the production of Abracadavers, visit them on Facebook and Twitter.

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