Fan Expo 2017: The Little Web Series That Could and Would

Carmilla series being at Fan Expo 2017 never should have happened.

But it did.

And it’s glorious.

If you don’t know what Carmilla series is then here’s the short answer right off the top: it’s really, really gay, really, really female/nonbinary centric, and has a really, really great set of cast, crew, and fans associated with it.

Boom. Information acquired.

 Majority of the  Carmilla  movie cast!  Credit: Aria Bauer

Majority of the Carmilla movie cast!
Credit: Aria Bauer

On the off chance you need a little more background, Carmilla is a queer-centric web series retelling of the 1897 novella by Sheridan LeFanu. It aired for three seasons on KindaTV and, to the excitement of its fans (called ‘Creampuffs’), will be dropping a movie on October 26, 2017. Filmed in Toronto, Ontario, the series and upcoming movie stars Elise Bauman as Laura Hollis and Natasha Negovanlis as Carmilla Karnstein.

The fact that the ‘little web series that could’ has become a movie is the cause of all the excitement. Starting as a low budget YouTube show where fans campaigned hard on social media just to get a second season, Carmilla has turned into a Telefilm and fan-funded movie with millions of views on the original web series and a novel expected in a few years.

Fans were ecstatic to get their season three. No-one ever expected a movie. When the movie was announced last year with no warning, fans exploded with joy and gifs. They wished and hoped and dreamed but three years ago, no-one predicted this. Web series don’t usually become movies, nevermind queer web series with a basically non-male cast.

Now that’s it’s here, everyone’s dead. In the best possible way.

While the internet is a great place to learn all about this web series and the movie, there’s nothing quite like experiencing Carmilla and its Creampuffs in person. The place to find them was Fan Expo in Toronto where the movie’s teaser trailer dropped to thunderous applause, a couple of swoons, and a few giggles.

The perfect mix of feelings to make the audience itch for more Carmilla content.

The teaser trailer (below) provided fans with a taste of what was to come and a promise of more concrete content when the full trailer drops at NYCC later this fall. For now, fans have heads full of speculation and theories to keep them going.

And go they did, participating in a Carmilla panel that always rings a differently than anything else at the conference. This was my fifth year at Fan Expo, my third Carmilla panel at the event, and I’ve still yet to come across another panel that *feels* the same way that the Carmilla panel always does.

Warm and excited and open.

With a cast as eager for the film as the fans are and with a crew who were more than happy to throw out a few long awaited secrets like casual truth-bombs, the experience felt more like a group of friends coming together to chat.

 Just two of the stars of the hit series  Carmilla.   Credit: Aria Bauer

Just two of the stars of the hit series Carmilla.
Credit: Aria Bauer

The panel provided lots of fun content and behind the scenes information for fans. This ranged from Bauman (Laura Hollis) and Negovanlis (Carmilla Karnstein) laughing while claiming that their dancing during the long-awaited waltz scene was terrible beneath the cuts, a movie release date of October 26 of this year with a promise of fun events, and the super casual bomb from the moderator that Dominique Provost-Chalkley, a new member cast only as ‘The Woman In Black’, was playing Carmilla’s ex-girlfriend Ell.

The audience and cast, who were unaware that this was an approved spoiler, all had a simultaneous heart attack for very different reasons. It was great.

Astute fans might have noticed that producer Steph Ouaknine also revealed that Ell, in line with the original Woman In Black novel, will be playing a ghost. With the movie just over a month and a half away, that gives Tumblr plenty of time to start creating ghostly ex-girlfriend theories. I have several.

Regardless of the content shared at the panel, the underlying message was the same - everyone believes in this story because no-one can quite believe that it’s actually happening.

Everyone is just really, really happy to be here.

It’s not just the panel that carried this attitude but this seemed to be an attitude that Creampuffs carried with them as they went about their day. While walking the floor over the 4 day event, I’d occasionally play a game of ‘spot the Carmilla fan’ and something that should have been hard for a tiny fandom in a sea of people turned out to be remarkably easy. There was the girl with the ‘Carmilla in NYC’ shirt who I tapped on the shoulder as I passed by, the 4 people from Hamilton, ON in front of me at the Beauty and The Beast panel who were squealing over the movie teaser trailer until I couldn’t help but join in, and the new friends I made in line after a quick text asking if anyone wanted to chat.

Then there were the hard ones, the people who I’d squint at and wonder only to find them later at the panel and smile. Creampuff successfully spotted.

When the weekend was over, weary legs dragging me home, there was the lingering question of how I’d spotted these less obvious Creampuffs. The ones who pinged my creampuff radar without Carmilla swag or snapbacks or flannels.

I still don’t know what it is.

But I know what it feels like, what it’s always felt like whether at panels or in crowded venues or across the internet: warm and excited and open. That same feeling that drove the Creampuffs in attendance to lift up hundreds of signs simply reading “thank you Carmilla.” Happy to just be here, existing and thrilled and a little confused as to how this all happened but thrilled just the same.

And curiously awaiting whatever might come next from the little fandom that could.

Written by Aria Bauer