CBC web se­ries a fam­ily af­fair

Two of mu­si­cian Northey’s kids put him to work scor­ing hor­ror-com­edy

The Province - - ENTERTAINMENT - DANA GEE

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.

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