Carmilla is a Canadian web series created by Jordan Hall and Ellen Simpson, starring Elise Bauman and Natasha Negovanlis, based on the novella of the same name by Sheridan Le Fanu. The series premiered on the Vervegirl (rebranded as 'KindaTV' as of January 2016) YouTube channel on August 19, 2014.[2]U by Kotex is the executive producer of the web series.[3] The series takes place at the fictional Silas University in Styria, Austria[4] and is told through video journals (Vlogs) recorded by Laura, a first-year student.[4] When Laura begins investigating the disappearance of her roommate, she's assigned a new roommate named Carmilla.[5]

The first and second seasons each consist of 36 three to seven-minute episodes.[6] A twelve-episode prequel mini-season, "season zero," was announced just after the release of the final episode of season 2.[7] On February 13, 2016, it was announced that Carmilla will air its third and final season in the summer of 2016.[8] In 2016, the series won a Canadian Screen Award[9][10] and a Rockie Award for Branded Content at the Banff World Media Festival.[11]

As of January 2016, Carmilla has been viewed over 35 million times on YouTube, attracting over 150,000 fans worldwide.[12]

Plot

Season 1

The series is framed as a video journal broadcast by Laura Hollis (Bauman), a freshman studying journalism who has decided to document her college experience. When her roommate Betty (Glowicki) suddenly goes missing at a swim team party, Laura is assigned a new roommate, Carmilla Karnstein (Negovanlis), whom Laura describes as "broody."[2] Laura, aided by her friends, discovers that her former roommate isn't the only girl to have abruptly gone missing from Silas. The season follows Laura's investigation and her relationship with Carmilla, which progresses from hostile to romantic over the course of the season.

Story Between Seasons

Between the end of season 1 and the premiere of season 2, series co-creator Ellen Simpson published additional storey content.[2] Canon Twitter accounts under Laura, Carmilla, and LaFontaine's names relay the group's encounters with supernatural Styrian dangers while trying to escape the Silas campus.[2]

Between storeys on the Twitter accounts, a Christmas special was released detailing the group's not-so-pleasant encounter with a seemingly-pleasant Mama Klaus.[2]

Season 2

The second season begins with Laura, Carmilla, LaFontaine, and Perry's return to the Silas campus. Laura decides to investigate the murder of several members of the newspaper staff. Other strange occurrences on campus draw the attention of Carmilla's sister—a powerful vampire—and the Silas Board of Governors.[18]

New characters include:

  • Matska "Mattie" Belmonde (Sophia Walker), Carmilla's adoptive vampiric sister and chair of the Silas Board of Governors.[18]
  • Baron Vordenberg (Ian D. Clark), the descendant of a vampire hunter whose family was murdered by Carmilla 300 years prior.[2]
  • Melanippe "Mel" Callis, a sister in the Summer Society.[20]
  • Theodore "Theo" Straka, a brother in Zeta Omega Mu.[20]

Season Zero

While Carmilla and Laura are trapped in the library, they watch VHS tapes.[7] The tapes document interactions between Carmilla, Perry, and Mel while they're trapped in a room where U by Kotex brand tampons are stored.

Season 3

Season 3 is officially up and running according to numerous Twitter accounts run by the production team and cast.[2][22]

Episodes

The first season of Carmilla consists of 36 episodes, which aired from August 19, 2014 to December 2, 2014. A Christmas special aired on December 24, 2014. The second season of Carmilla consists of 36 episodes, which aired from June 2, 2015 to October 1, 2015. The next season, titled Season Zero, consists of 12 episodes, which began airing on October 22, 2015 and concluded on November 24, 2015. Episodes are posted every Tuesday and Thursday while the series is running.

Cast and characters

Due to budgetary constraints, the actors cast in season one weren't members of ACTRA, a Canadian labour union for artists and performers.[23] During pre-production for the second season, it was announced that the show would be financially able to support its actors in joining ACTRA, and several actors of colour had been cast as new characters.[24]

Main characters

  • Laura Hollis (played by Elise Bauman)[25] is the 19-year-old sheltered and courageous protagonist. She is a journalism major and grew up with an over-protective father who goes to great measures to protect his only child. Despite her love of sugary foods, Laura is tiny, and, as a child, was signed up for Krav Maga classes by her father so she could learn how to defend herself. Though she's somewhat bookish and dorky, she's adorable and fiercely loyal to her friends. Laura enjoys various forms of pop culture, including Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who, and is deeply inspired by historical strong female icons. Laura doesn't hide her initial dislike towards Carmilla, but as the series progresses and after discovering who Carmilla truly is, she finds herself falling in love with her and is eventually in a relationship with her by season 2. It is implied that Laura doesn't have a mother, and if her family correlates with her character's family in the original novella, Laura's mother died when she was young. Little is known of her past and of Laura herself additional than basic facts discovered in season 1.
  • Carmilla Karnstein (played by Natasha Negovanlis)[26] is Laura's new roommate. Born in Styria in 1680 as Mircalla Karnstein, the daughter of a Count, Carmilla was murdered at a ball and resurrected as a vampire, eternally ageing her at 18. She is the "adopted" daughter of the Dean of Silas University, Lilita Morgan (also a vampire) who forces Carmilla to bring her girls to offer as a sacrifice to the angler fish god in her cult. During the 1800s, Carmilla fell deeply in love with Ell, one of her mother's targets. She tried to protect Ell from her mother, but when her mother revealed to Ell that Carmilla is a vampire, Ell rejected Carmilla. Carmilla was tortured and buried underground for several decades in a coffin of blood for disobeying her mother. She was freed throughout the second World War by a bomb exploding and unearthing her coffin. Carmilla was eventually found by her mother and forced back into her enslavement of luring girls. She was brought to Silas University and eventually becomes roommates with Laura Hollis, one of her mother's next targets. Notwithstanding Carmilla becomes passionately drawn to Laura and vows not to let her mother harm her. By the end of season one and entering the second season, it is clear that she's in a relationship with Laura. Carmilla is a strong willed, sarcastic, philosophy student who consistently fails to clean up after herself and often uses Laura's possessions without permission. She possesses supernatural strength and speed, and can transform into a giant black cat.
  • Danny Lawrence (played by Sharon Belle)[27] is a third year student and English Literature TA at Silas. She is a member of the Summer Society at the university and has a strong will to protect those she cares about. Danny is athletic and charming; shows a romantic interest in Laura, which appeared to be returned in the beginning of the series, but as season one progresses, Laura finds Danny's over-protectiveness to be suffocating and reminds her too much of her father. Danny doesn't often get along with Carmilla, finding her to be rude and messy, but tries to put her feelings of dislike behind her for Laura. In Season 2, she and Laura's friendship is repaired and the two work together again. She becomes the Student Representative of the Board of Silas. She becomes an outcast in the Summer Society when she protects Kirsch from the additional Summers and later joins forces with Laura.
  • S. LaFontaine (played by Kaitlyn Alexander)[28] is a non-binary student at Silas University and is Perry's best friend. They go by their last name, and are quick to correct anyone who calls them 'Susan'. After episode 26, creators and cast confirmed on tumblr that LaFontaine's preferred pronouns are they/them/their. They are a biology major and one of the few characters not put off by the supernatural and strange aspects of Silas University. They are known to be a truth-speaker, being quite observant, e.g. LaFontaine was the first to accuse Carmilla of being a vampire and concluded that the house Laura and Carmilla inhabited in Season Two was Carmilla's Mother's. During season 1, they were kidnapped by the Dean as a message to Laura. Laura mentions that she thinks LaFontaine and J.P. are dating, but it is never confirmed by either.
  • Lola Perry (played by Annie M. Briggs)[28] is a German major at Silas University, LaFontaine's roommate, and Laura and Carmilla's floor don. Regularly referred to as simply 'Perry', she's caring and nurturing, and often mothering her friends and classmates. She has a strong urge for constant order and fiercely believes in normality. She initially refuses to believe that Carmilla is a vampire, coming up with various excuses for Carmilla's strange behavior. She states in the Christmas Special that she celebrates Chanukah, making her the only explicitly non-Christian character on the show to date. She's hinted to have feelings for LaFontaine, whom she's known after grade school. In Season Zero, set in 2012, Perry is shown to have an interest in the occult and new age practices, wearing flowers in her hair.

Supporting characters

  • Wilson Kirsch (played by Matt O'Connor)[29] is a student at Silas University and a member of the Zeta Omega Mu fraternity. Kirsch has a desire to protect others, and upon meeting Laura, nicknames her "Little Nerd" and designates himself as her "Zeta Omega Mu safety companion". He joins Laura and her friends in the search for the missing girls at Silas. In season 2 he's shown to have developed feelings for Danny, which she doesn't reciprocate.
  • Will Luce (played by Aaron Chartrand)[28] is a vampire, Zeta Omega Mu fraternity brother, and Kirsch's best friend. Also resurrected by the Dean, Will is Carmilla's younger brother. He refers to his sister as 'Kitty', and in return, is called 'Mama's Boy' for fulfilling the Dean's every request. Midway through season one, he attempts to attack Laura, but she's defended by Carmilla. He gets staked by Perry at the end of season one.
  • Elizabeth "Betty" Spielsdorf (played by Grace Glowicki) is Laura's original roommate. Betty, who initially appeared to be a care-free party girl was kidnapped by the Dean in the first episode of season one. After her disappearance, Laura vows to discover what happened to Betty. When Betty is finally rescued, it is revealed that she was brainwashed into coming to Silas, is quite neat and intelligent, and was her high school valedictorian. After her return, she comes off as slightly rude and is attempting to transfer to Princeton University.
  • Sarah Jane (played by Breton Lalama) is a pre-med student at Silas University. Sarah Jane was attending a swim team party when she went missing. She later reappeared, but couldn't remember what happened to her and eventually turned into a party animal. She began dating Kirsch, and while attending a party with him fell out of a third floor window throughout a botched attempt to summon her to the Dean. The fall resulted in her death.
  • Natalie (played by Lisa Truong)[30] is a student at Silas University and one of the girls who went missing. After initially returning, like Sarah Jane, she couldn't remember what happened to her and eventually turned into a party animal. She was attending the Peace Augsburg Luau when she went missing again. She was eventually saved by Laura and her friends at the end of season one.
  • Elsie (played by Paige Haight)[31] is a student at Silas University, Carmilla's 'study-buddy' in the beginning of the first season, and one of the girls who eventually went missing and was saved in season one.
  • J.P. Armitage (played by Dillon Taylor/Aaron Chartrand) is a student of Silas from the 1800s who was sucked into the computer system. J.P. originally resided in the library, but was transferred onto a flash drive by LaFontaine and is brought back to Laura's room. He aids Laura and her friends when they're researching information in order to find out how to stop the Dean's evil plan. His flash drive is destroyed by Carmilla's mother, The Dean, but later it is revealed that LaFontaine made a backup of J.P. on another flashdrive. Laura mentions that she thinks LaFontaine and J.P. are dating at the end of season one, but this has yet to be confirmed by either of them. During the second season, the library disappears due to Matska taking charge at Silas and so does much of J.P. with it, until LaFontaine manages to bring him to life in Will's body after finding it on a trip to visit the Lustig crater. Due to the fact that the body J.P. inhabited is that of a vampire, he now possesses the same traits and abilities as the aforementioned supernatural.
  • Theodore "Theo" Straka (played by Shannon Kook)[32] is a member of the Zeta Omega Mu fraternity and is introduced in the second season. He doesn't seem to get along well with the Summer Society, particularly with a Summer Society member called Mel, and is protective of his Zeta brothers.
  • Melanippe "Mel" Callis (played by Nicole Stamp)[33] is a member of the Summer Society and is introduced in the second season. In the second season, she's shown to be ambitious, fierce, loyal to her Summer Society sisters, brave, arrogant, and doesn't get along with Danny or the Zetas. Mel strives to claim the title of the president of the Summer Society the following year from Danny assuming her budding friendship with the Zetas and interactions with Laura and Carmilla will end up in her demotion once and for all. When Mel plans to kill Kirsch in the Adonis Hunt, Danny stops her, this allows Mel to win the election to become the president of the Summer Society, notwithstanding this she still takes orders from Danny who's the Student Representative of the Board of Silas. In Season Zero, set in 2012, Mel is shown to be shy and nerdy, wearing glasses and conservative clothing.
  • Matska "Mattie" Belmonde (played by Sophia Walker)[33] is the Chair of the Silas Board of Governors and was additionally resurrected by the Dean, making her Carmilla's older vampire sister. Her relationship with Carmilla is different than her mother and additional siblings, where it shows the two have a great friendship and have had each other's backs for over 300 years. Despite this, Mattie often chides Carmilla over her relationship with Laura. When she loses her power as the Chair of the Silas Board to Vordenberg, she becomes a fugitive when Vordenberg orders the detainment of all known vampires. She is eventually killed by Danny, who only got the information to kill her from Laura who gained the information from Carmilla. Her death additionally sets Carmilla against Laura and the others.
  • Baron Vordenberg (played by Ian D. Clark)[33] is a member of the Silas Board of Governors. He is originally seen to be a kind old man who wishes to help Laura, but he has a great dislike for Carmilla, who murdered his ancestor's family over 300 years ago. When Laura helps Vordenberg become the Chair of the Silas Board, he reveals a more vindictive side of himself, when he orders the detainment of all known vampires.

Reception

Carmilla has been praised by blogs and indie publications for its near all-female cast and representation of various LGBT characters.[34] In 2016, the series won a Canadian Screen Award[9][10] and a Rockie Award for Branded Content at the Banff World Media Festival.[11]

As of January 2016, Carmilla has been viewed over 35 million times on YouTube, attracting over 150,000 fans worldwide.[12]

Awards

YearAwardCategoryResult
2014AfterEllen Visibility AwardsFavorite Web SeriesWon[35]
2015Shorty AwardsFavorite WebshowNominated[36]
2015Streamy AwardsBest DramaNominated [37]
2015AfterEllen Visibility AwardsFavorite Lesbian/Bi TV CharacterWon[38]
2015AfterEllen Visibility AwardsFavorite Fictional Lesbian CoupleWon[39]
2015AfterEllen Visibility AwardsBest Web SeriesWon[40]
2015Digi AwardsBranded ContentWon[5][5]
2016Canadian Screen AwardsDigital Media Program/Series - FictionWon [5]
2016Banff Rockies AwardsBranded Content AwardWon[5]