An award-winning series that was partly shot in the Stettler region, including Ol’ MacDonald’s Resort, continues to garner critical acclaim and reach a broader audience.
After over 20 festivals world-wide and 35 award wins and nominations, the flagship series Abracadavers has locked down a distribution deal with Zombie Orpheus Entertainment!, explained Calgary-based Griffin Cork, who both co-produced and starred in the project.
And on Jan. 1st, Abracadavers will also be available on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and The Fantasy Network in the U.K, the U.S, Germany and Japan.
The series will also be available on The Fantasy Network and iTunes in Canada, and will continue to be available on Telus’ Optik TV.
“We are very proud of Abracadavers as our first larger budget project with an entirely Albertan cast and crew,” said Cork.
Cork, along with co-producers Morgan Ermter (who also directed the series), Gianna Isabella and Josef Wright, went into production in the summer of 2018 with the support of The Calgary Film Centre’s Project Lab, and Telus’ STORYHIVE program.
Cork recalls the catalyst for the story coming at a time when Ermster and Wright has just recently graduated from SAIT in Calgary, and Cork was still immersed in his BFA studies.
Abracadavers follows the story of Chris (terrifically played by Cork), whose mom died in a freak hair salon chair accident.
Ever since then, he’s been attached to the chair responsible for her death, according to a synopsis.
Gabriel, his closest friend, believes this is more than an obsession and along with their group of friends kidnaps him on a trip. On the road trip everyone discovers, as Chris had previously begun to expect, that the salon chair gives those close to it superpowers.
Chris, on the other hand, comes to understand he’s in fact struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and learns, along with his friends, that dealing with super-human abilities is something easier to grapple with than what’s going on in your mind.
“The group trips, stumbles, but ultimately works and grows together to understand their new-found abilities and more importantly, themselves.”
“The whole theme of going on this trip to figure out your identity and the person you want to be in this world – it was very close to home for us,” Cork explained, adding that about four years prior to crafting the scripts, Ermter and Wright had been walking down an alley one day near Ermter’s old house, and they came upon an intact hair salon chair.
“They just took it and thought, well, we have to work this in somehow,” he added with a laugh. Indeed. The foundation of the story continued to take shape.
Ultimately a teams of writers, including Ermter, Alanna Schwartz, Ethan Harder, Danae Pritchard, Aaron Belot and art director Rachael Haugan began fleshing out the thoroughly engaging stories.
“We did three STORYHIVE editions and we had $10,000 to make the first initial pilot,” he said. “We took that pilot and showed it around at the Banff World Media Fest and garnered some interest in it.
“The whole first season was funded by STORYHIVE and The Calgary Film Centre. And it went from there,” he said. “Abracadavers was our largest undertaking as filmmakers and as a company. And we could not be happier with its journey.”
For Cork, who has also appeared in Heartland, The Black Donnellys andEverfall, tackling the relatively complex role of Chris proved a challenge, albeit a compelling and fulfilling one.
The challenging part included finding an powerful emotional connection to the character of Chris who is grieving such a deep, personal loss.
Meanwhile, co-starring with Cork are Emma Houghton (The PsyBorgs), Samantha Jeffery (The Magicians, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before 3) and Reamonn Joshee (Wynonna Earp, True Fiction, Jonesin’).
To date, Abracadavers has received more than 35 award wins and nominations, including ‘Best Web Series’ at the Los Angeles Film Awards, the AMPIA Rosie Awards, the New Vision International Film Festival, the Global Film Festival Awards and CSIF’s first inaugural Stinger Awards.
Ermter also picked up several Best Director wins and nominations, and composer Scott Steneker also took home a Best Original Music Score award at the AMPIA Rosies, among others.
These days, Cork hopes the series continues to generate conversation amongst viewers on everything from dealing with grief to supporting someone through that journey.
“What I really connected with in this story is establishing identity,” he added. “You might not know who you are, what you are doing or what you want to do, and I don’t know that you need to know right away,” he pointed out.
”There is no rush on that.”
Check out www.abracadavers.tv or find the series on Facebook and Instagram.