‘Such a pleasure to work with family,’ says director
“It was an ambitious schedule and I’m really proud of what we pulled off in that amount of time,” said the 25-year-old Cole, whose production company Glass Hero Media has a strong music video resume that includes videos for Aaron Pritchett and Barney Bentall.
Pulling it off, according to Cole, had a lot to do with the connection he has with his older sister and the comfort that comes with having family near by during stressful times.
“It is such a pleasure to work with family because you know what to say,” said Cole. “I’ve seen her acting style, I know her acting style and you can shorthand it. You can get what you want to get across in three words. We know what each other means and we know what we are looking for and she nails it.
“The collaboration between her and I, I think was integral in making this all work,” added Cole.
For those unfamiliar with the web series format, the run times are a lot shorter than standard TV, in this case around 10 minutes, and there are no steadfast rules to follow. That as you can imagine is very attractive to filmmakers.
“The post impact is huge because there is no set run times so you can make this a little bit longer or you can make this a little bit shorter. That means you have the ability to say no this is better without that, and we don’t have to pad the thing with jokes that didn’t land or things like that,” said Cole. “It gets you to the essence of exactly what you want which is fantastic.
“Shooting you get more flexibility by doing small re-writes on the run without having to run it by the suits at the network,” added Cole, an SFU film program graduate.
McCulloch agreed with Cole and finds the web freedom a perfect fit for his fast-firing brain.
“I love story and this exists in kind of 10 minute chunks which is what I am used to in my brain as story beats,” said McCulloch. “I found the meditation of it quite interesting because things have to happen and there has to be something happening at the end of 10 minutes. So instead of it being sprawling it made it really muscular for me.”
For the Northeys working closely with McCulloch was an exciting and creatively cool experience.
“Bruce is just so funny and he gets us,” said Cole.
Aleita said he also really got her character. He understood Anna’s plight as an actor and had a contemporary lens at which he looked at her, her struggles and her eventual metamorphosis.
“I think Anna has a unique sense of herself and Bruce’s comedy has always been creative so it works,” said Aleita. “He is able to discuss what I think are really relevant themes and relationships that hits your ear and strikes you.”
For McCulloch working with the Cole and Aleita was an experience he loved for a couple of reasons.
“It is so interesting they tease each other but have each other’s backs,” said McCulloch. “It was double interesting as Craig is one of my great friends and collaborators and Cole feels in a way like I am working with Craig Northey because he laughs at the same things and I can tease him in the same way I tease Craig, so I’ve been friends with him as he has grown up but now it’s like another Northey I can play with.
“It’s like a relationship that has been handed down,” added McCulloch.
While web series are as common as blogs what gives This Blows a chance to break away from the sea of DIY story telling that populates the web is it is part of CBC Digital’s platform.
For the record CBC receives about 1,000 pitches for scripted digital series each year.
“In building the mid-length series slate for our streaming service, we are always looking for series that will tap into a larger conversation that is happening in society. This Blows struck a chord with us for the way that it so vividly dramatizes the experience of a woman finding and reckoning with her own power,” said Zach Feldberg, Executive in Charge of Production, Digital Originals. “We also love projects that pair established veterans with exciting emerging talent, so the combination of Bruce, Cole and Aleita, along with producers Susan Cavan and Caitlin Brown, was irresistible.”
The fact that CBC is launching this series is a further sign the traditional broadcast networks are realizing that the internet isn’t just home for funny cat videos and weird political rants.
They get that in order to get those much-hunted eyeballs on their digital content, the content better be good.
“I think now networks are starting to realize that the internet is a great guaranteed audience as well. People are really going to the internet for their content,” said Aleita.
Now that This Blows is out are there plans for more episodes?
“I sure hope so,” said Aleita. “I’ve got lots of ideas.”
Any of those involve a family band? Aleita just laughed.
Musician Craig Northey is collaborating with his kids Aleita and Cole on the new CBC web series This Blows.