Uncategorized

Family figures big in new CBC web series

THIS BLOWS

CBC Digital, Feb. 15

Musician and songwriter Craig Northey had dreams of creating a family band with his kids.

However, it turns out his template was a little more Adams Family than Partridge Family.

“When Hanson was big I wanted to dress all my kids Goth and be the stage dad who created Marilyn Hanson,” said Craig, who fronted the bands Odds and Stripper’s Union and has had a successful career as a TV and film soundtrack composer (Corner Gas, Brain Candy). “I would write all the tunes. The idea fell apart when I realized they would want a lot of input on the creative direction.”

Musician Craig Northey’s collaboration with his kids Aleita and Cole on the new CBC web series This Blows is kind of like forming the family band he wanted when the kids were younger.

While North Vancouver’s Northey clan never formed that band they have combined their creative talents over the years. Most recently Craig’s daughter Aleita and son Cole have hired him to work (along with Jim McGr..

THIS BLOWS

CBC Digital, Feb. 15

Musician and songwriter Craig Northey had dreams of creating a family band with his kids.

However, it turns out his template was a little more Adams Family than Partridge Family.

“When Hanson was big I wanted to dress all my kids Goth and be the stage dad who created Marilyn Hanson,” said Craig, who fronted the bands Odds and Stripper’s Union and has had a successful career as a TV and film soundtrack composer (Corner Gas, Brain Candy). “I would write all the tunes. The idea fell apart when I realized they would want a lot of input on the creative direction.”

Musician Craig Northey’s collaboration with his kids Aleita and Cole on the new CBC web series This Blows is kind of like forming the family band he wanted when the kids were younger.

While North Vancouver’s Northey clan never formed that band they have combined their creative talents over the years. Most recently Craig’s daughter Aleita and son Cole have hired him to work (along with Jim McGrath) on the music for This Blows, the new CBC Digital web series the pair co-created and star in and direct respectively. The series goes online Feb. 15. Barb Eddy, Craig’s wife and mother to Cole and Aleita, has a cameo in the series and chipped in on the craft services front.

“Growing up the dream for him was to have a family band and this is the closest incarnation maybe we’ll get because Cole and I rejected instruments,” said the 27-year-old Aleita, who is currently in Victoria at the Belfry Theatre co-starring in the Jill Daum-penned play Forget About Tomorrow.

“We all get along so that is helpful,” added Aleita while talking about working with her dad. “He’s very kind to us and he’s very talented. We are very lucky to have him.”

This Blows is a horror/comedy that focuses on a young woman who is given some pretty strong and messy powers, powers that lead her on a blood-covered journey of self-discovery.

In the new CBC web series This Blows North Vancouver’s Aleita Northey plays an actor who has a very unique and bloody talent.

The brother and sister duo co-created the series with Kids in the Hall and Young Drunk Punk alum Bruce McCulloch. McCulloch also served as the writer of the series.

Director/creator Cole Northey (l) and writer/producer Bruce McCulloch on the set of the new CBC web series This Blows. The series follows a young woman (Aleita Northey) who has to navigate life after a special power is bestowed upon her.

Over the years Craig and McCulloch have collaborated on TV and movie projects and developed a deep friendship. McCulloch has literally seen the Northey kids (there’s another son named Wilson who is a hockey player) grow up.

The road to This Blows really began a few years ago with a music video for the song Zombie Eyed that Cole and Aleita did for the Hamilton alternative rock band The Dirty Nil. In the video Aleita’s character goes around town blowing people up with her mind.

READ ALSO  5 things to look forward to when Chelsea take on Barcelona 

McCulloch saw the video and liked it. In fact he liked it so much he suggested it should be a series for Aleita to star in and Cole to direct.

“Aleita was staying with us in L.A. during pilot season and not getting any really fun auditions,” said McCulloch recently over the phone from his L.A. home. “They were all the girlfriend or waitress No. 2 or whatever and then I said ‘we’ve got to figure out something for you,’ then I remembered how much I liked The Dirty Nil’s video. I thought ‘wow that’s a series.’ When I saw it I thought it was really funny and sharp and he (Cole) made it on I think $500, $200 of which went for wieners (substitutes for intestines and stuff) as he explodes all these people.

“So I thought about it and Aleita was here and we talked about her point of view of the world and a woman’s power and place in the world and what it is like to live now. So the story emerged and I went to CBC Digital and I pitched it and they said okay,” added McCulloch.

“I feel really fortunate,” said Aleita. “I love Bruce and his writing and his humour so it worked out really well. I’m glad that he saw we could do it as well.”

In the series the sweet, struggling actor Anna Gowen (Aleita) attends soul and self-esteem crushing auditions, questions her relationship, wonders and worries about her weird roommate (played hilariously by Fei Ren) and blows up people and animals (by accident) when she gets angry.

Fei Ren plays the hilarious Sunny in the new CBC horror web series This Blows. The series is now online at CBC.

The audition scenes are especially poignant and cringe inducing and will certainly resonate with anyone who has had to go through that type of judgmental stress.

“You put yourself out there to be rejected over and over again based on things you can’t control,” said Aleita, who studied acting at the Neighbourhood Playhouse in New York.

A great moment in the series is when the fictional PA at one of Anna’s auditions tells a frustrated Anna:

“I’m sorry you picked a career that doesn’t pay you enough to survive.”

Aleita chuckles and sighs when the scene is brought up.

“She (the PA) says ‘have you thought of becoming a mailman or something like that?’ You know what? I have,” said Aleita, adding that the audition process does leave a mark. “We all do get a little messed up here and there.”

That said having Anna as an outlet for years of professional frustrations was pretty therapeutic for the stage-trained actor.

READ ALSO  Charles Lammam and Hugh MacIntyre: B.C.’s 2018 budget fails to deal with competitiveness

“You can’t really stand up for yourself in those moments. It was fun to show what might happen if you did. You do internalize a lot. You hear those things and then you start to believe them and some of them are pretty insane,” said Aleita. “You do it only because you can’t not do it.”

This Blows was shot in 10 days at locations in and around North Vancouver and East Vancouver.

“It was an ambitious schedule and I’m really proud of what we pulled off in that amount of time,” said the 25-year-old Cole, whose production company Glass Hero Media has a strong music video resume that includes videos for Aaron Pritchett and Barney Bentall.

Pulling it off, according to Cole, had a lot to do with the connection he has with his older sister and the comfort that comes with having family near by during stressful times.

“It is such a pleasure to work with family because you now what to say,” said Cole. “I’ve seen her acting style, I know her acting style and you can shorthand it. You can get what you want to get across in three words. We know what each other means and we know what we are looking for and she nails it.

“The collaboration between her and I, I think was integral in making this all work,” added Cole.

For those unfamiliar with the web series format, the run times are a lot shorter than standard TV, in this case around 10 minutes, and there are no steadfast rules to follow. That as you can imagine is very attractive to filmmakers.

“The post impact is huge because there is no set run times so you can make this a little bit longer or you can make this a little bit shorter. That means you have the ability to say no this is better without that, and we don’t have to pad the thing with jokes that didn’t land or things like that,” said Cole. “It gets you to the essence of exactly what you want which is fantastic.

“Shooting you get more flexibility by doing small re-writes on the run without having to run it by the suits at the network,” added Cole, an SFU film program graduate.

McCulloch agreed with Cole and finds the web freedom a perfect fit for his fast-firing brain.

“I love story and this exists in kind of 10 minute chunks which is what I am used to in my brain as story beats,” said McCulloch. “I found the meditation of it quite interesting because things have to happen and there has to be something happening at the end of 10 minutes. So instead of it being sprawling it made it really muscular for me.”

READ ALSO  Ian Mulgrew: Legal aid boost in eye of beholder

For the Northeys working closely with McCulloch was an exciting and creatively cool experience.

“Bruce is just so funny and he gets us,” said Cole.

Aleita said he also really got her character. He understood Anna’s plight as an actor and had a contemporary lens at which he looked at her, her struggles and her eventual metamorphosis.

“I think Anna has a unique sense of herself and Bruce’s comedy has always been creative so it works,” said Aleita. “He is able to discuss what I think are really relevant themes and relationships that hits your ear and strikes you.”

For McCulloch working with the Cole and Aleita was an experience he loved for a couple of reasons.

“It is so interesting they tease each other but have each other’s backs,” said McCulloch. “It was double interesting as Craig is one of my great friends and collaborators and Cole feels in a way like I am working with Craig Northey because he laughs at the same things and I can tease him in the same way I tease Craig, so I’ve been friends with him as he has grown up but now it’s like another Northey I can play with.

“It’s like a relationship that has been handed down,” added McCulloch.

While web series are as common as blogs what gives This Blows a chance to break away from the sea of DIY story telling that populates the web is it is part of CBC Digital’s platform.

For the record CBC receives about 1,000 pitches for scripted digital series each year.

“In building the mid-length series slate for our streaming service, we are always looking for series that will tap into a larger conversation that is happening in society. This Blows struck a chord with us for the way that it so vividly dramatizes the experience of a woman finding and reckoning with her own power,” said Zach Feldberg, Executive in Charge of Production, Digital Originals. “We also love projects that pair established veterans with exciting emerging talent, so the combination of Bruce, Cole and Aleita, along with producers Susan Cavan and Caitlin Brown, was irresistible.”

The fact that CBC is launching this series is a further sign the traditional broadcast networks are realizing that the internet isn’t just home for funny cat videos and weird political rants.

They get that in order to get those much-hunted eyeballs on their digital content, the content better be good.

“I think now networks are starting to realize that the internet is a great guaranteed audience as well. People are really going to the internet for their content,” said Aleita.

Now that This Blows is out are there plans for more episodes?

“I sure hope so,” said Aleita. “I’ve got lots of ideas.”

Any of those involve a family band?

Aleita just laughed.

dgee@postmedia.com

twitter.com/dana_gee

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons