CBC web series a family affair
Two of musician Northey’s kids put him to work scoring horror-comedy
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 Addams 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.”
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-yearold 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.
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.
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.
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 OK,” 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.
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 stagetrained actor.
“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.
North Vancouver actor Aleita Northey stars in the new CBC web series This Blows. Northey’s brother Cole also directs the eight-part series.