“Carmilla,” a scripted comedy and lesbian love story adapted from the 19th-century cult-classic gothic vampire novella — which has run as a YouTube series for two years — will be turned into a feature-length film starring members of the original cast.
Sponsored by Kimberly-Clark’s U by Kotex feminine-hygiene brand, the “Carmilla” series has generated more than 50 million views and has 250,000-plus followers on social media since first launching in August 2014. About 82% of those fans — who call themselves “Creampuffs” after a line in the show — are female, and nearly two-thirds are aged 18-24.
Now the producers are looking to expand the franchise with the movie, slated to be released in the fall of 2017. The series and film come from Toronto-based Shaftesbury’s Smokebomb Entertainment digital studio and its shift2 branded-entertainment agency.
“The demand for ‘Carmilla’ has been off the charts so we wanted to super-serve the fans by exploring the story further through other formats and platforms,” said Jay Bennett, senior VP of creative and innovation at Smokebomb. “It’s not often that you have the opportunity to launch a film with the kind of built-in fan base that ‘Carmilla’ has.”
The film will include many of the original cast from the digital series, including Elise Bauman (who plays Laura) and Natasha Negovanlis (as Carmilla). Alex Acoba has signed on to write the script with series co-creator and writer Jordan Hall, and the movie will be produced by Smokebomb’s Steph Ouaknine, who has overseen the series’ three seasons.
The “Carmilla” series, available on Smokebomb’s YouTube channel KindaTV, takes place at a fictional modern-day university. The story starts when college student Laura discovers that her original roommate has disappeared — replaced by the mysterious Carmilla, who turns out to be a vampire. The pair’s relationship evolves over time in a “complicated love story,” said Bennett, and the show’s storylines mix in elements of “Veronica Mars”-style investigations.
The movie will be set five years after events of the current season 3 of “Carmilla,” which debuted in mid-September. In the film, Laura and Carmilla will have a brand-new mystery to solve. “It’s about the band getting back together, and them going on a fun, cool, sexy Scooby-Doo adventure,” said Bennett.
Writing is under way on the film’s script, and Smokebomb is in early talks with distribution and potential co-production partners, according to Bennett. Kimberly-Clark, as the series’ sponsor, is “100% interested in the movie, but we need to finish season 3 before we proceed” in terms of the company providing funding for the film, he said.
Fans can place pre-orders for the “Carmilla” movie through Vimeo’s VHX service (at carmillamovie.vhx.tv). It will cost $9.99 for the feature, a signed digital copy of the script and a making-of featurette; $14.99 for the feature and extras including a blooper reel and cast commentary; and $20.99 for a bundle that includes all the extra content plus season 3 of the digital series with additional outtakes plus behind-the-scenes footage. “In our commitment to the fans, with their support buying the feature, we’ll be able to put more on the screen,” Bennett said.
When Bennett and shift2 CEO Kaaren Whitney-Vernon first approached Kimberly-Clark about sponsoring the series, “we were intrigued, but never dreamed it would turn into such a fan phenomenon,” said director of marketing Leslie Mackay. “We are so delighted to see the team take this property to the next level and engage this incredibly supportive and enthusiastic audience with an even more in-depth iteration of the story.”
Smokebomb is developing other extensions to the “Carmilla” franchise, including a live stage show and a TV series. There’s already a “Carmilla” jewelry line in market through Jewlr.com.
In addition to the series’ availability on YouTube, Fullscreen has licensed the first two seasons of “Carmilla” and other Smokebomb productions, included as part of the Fullscreen subscription VOD service.