Carmilla Web Series
Other television shows and web series have converged with social media in the past (The Newsroom), but none have done so with the finesse and humor that the Carmilla web series does. The web series is a modern retelling of the vampire novella of the same name written by Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu in the 19th century, which predates Dracula by 25 years. The web series is shot in a vlog format in Laura Hollis’ dorm room at fictional Silas University. Episodes release on YouTube on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the KindaTV (formerly VerveGirlTV) channel. Episodes have been anywhere from 3 minutes to 7 minutes in length. It follows the story of Laura, a journalism student who is investigating the sudden disappearance of her roommate Betty, and the mystery surroundings of her strange new roommate Carmilla Karnstein (hint: vampire). She teams up with Danny (her English Lit TA), LaFontaine and Perry (her RA) to find out why her previous roommate and several other girls have gone missing. This show passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors. Personally, I discovered the web series on Tumblr through bloggers of Orphan Black, Orange is the New Black and Once Upon a Time.
Using Twitter and Tumblr as Added Platforms for the Series
The way the creators use transmedia in this web series is what makes it unique. There are two Twitter and Tumblr accounts that are each curated by the writers/creators (Ellen Simpson and Jordan Hall) of the show. One is written in-character for Carmilla (Twitter, Tumblr) and the other is written in-character for Laura (Twitter, Tumblr). There is also one actor-driven Twitter account for LaFontaine. Furthermore, there are numerous other fan-created accounts that are based on other characters and objects in the web series that interact with the other Twitter accounts in the fandom. These include Danny Lawrence (English Lit TA), Laura’s Pillow and Laura’s Camera (not kidding, evidence below).
Tweeting Concerning the Plot in Real-Time
What’s so interesting about this whole set up is that the characters all tweet and post in real time, especially for Twitter, about subjects concerning where the plot is in the web series. The weekend (9/26/14-9/28/14) was one of the more interesting weekends concerning the writer-driven content that was on Carmilla and Laura’s Twitter accounts. The characters in the episode that aired last Thursday (Episode 17, September 25th, 2014) figured out Carmilla was a vampire and captured her so that they could interrogate her about the whereabouts of the missing girls at Silas University on the night of a party on campus. The episode ended on a cliffhanger with a frat guy rushing into the room to tell everyone that two other girls disappeared at the party. This begs the question as to how could two other people get kidnapped if the suspected culprit (Carmilla) has been captured. Over the weekend, Carmilla’s Twitter account was overtaken by the other characters in the show and tweeted as if they were Carmilla even though the audience knows it is not.
Examples of Tweets
What was so humorous about this whole debacle were the tweets on Laura and Carmilla’s Twitter accounts following episode 17. Laura and presumably others (most likely Lafontaine) in their group figured out that Carmilla had a Twitter and were tweeting for her in-character. Here’s some hilarious examples:
They then tweet on behalf of Carmilla so that no one comes looking for her. She took a trip to Iceland of course! Carmilla responds explaining everything is okay although the audience knows she is in fact captured (tied up) in her and Laura’s dorm room. The fans also interact with the fictional accounts curated by the writers of the series.
Overall, I believe this use of transmedia across platforms increases the popularity and reach of this show tremendously. As of February 2015, the first season has garnered over 10 million views on YouTube. So with the second season (currently airing) set to conclude in October. I predict this little Canadian show to go far, just like Orphan Black before it. Click here to start watching the web series Carmilla!