Are you ready to get weird? That’s exactly what’s going to happen when Shaftesbury drops its latest digital series, CLAIREvoyant on its YouTube channel KindaTV Wednesday, May 16 at 7 p.m. ET. The story about quirky best friends comes from the minds of co-stars Natasha Negovanlis (TheCarmilla Movie, Freelancers Anonymous) and Annie Briggs (TheCarmilla Movie, Luvvie). The pair play Claire and Ruby, who scheme as pretend psychics online in order to make enough rent money to keep from getting evicted. The weird starts happening when Claire (Negovanlis) discovers that she has real psychic abilities.
The first five of the 14 episode season drop on Wednesday, with remaining episodes being released on Wednesday, May 23 and Wednesday, May 30. Briggs and Negovanlis wrote CLAIREvoyant along with Jason Packer (Undercover High, Spun Out) and it was directed by Simone Stock (Earthling House Huntress, Iris). The TV Junkies recently got the opportunity to speak with Briggs and Negovanlis about where the crazy idea for this series came from and the inspiration behind their crazy characters, both of whom differ vastly from their roles on the beloved Carmilla.
The TV Junkies: This seems like a bit of a crazy idea. How did you come up with it?
Annie Briggs: The fateful night that this was born from our lady brains was just a fun dinner we were having together. We got chatting about our unusual interest and intrigue with things like the occult and psychics, as well as our familial histories of spirituality. We’re also goofy gals so at some point in the night these characters emerged. We both brushed it off, but a couple days later we were texting and thought ‘maybe there’s some life to this thing.’
Natasha Negovanlis: It was really a combination of a few things. This was in early 2015, but it really wasn’t until early 2016 that Shaftesbury approached me with ‘what’s after Carmilla? What else can we do with you?’ I said ‘well, Annie and I have an idea for a show.’ We went in for a proper pitch meeting with a few different concepts, but this is the one that stuck because it was something we were so clearly passionate about. It really centers around female friendship, and our own friendship chemistry was so present in the script that I think that’s something that drew them to it as well.
TTVJ: You both wrote on this project. What was that experience like and is it something you want to continue to do? NN: Annie is a very good writer and has written and directed the short film Luvvie before. So it was a really great process because our skills are very different and compliment one another. We also had another writer [Jason Packard] and our one producer Dillon Taylor was really involved in story editing. I had such a great time, and I don’t know if this is just a one-off because I don’t know that I’m the most gifted writer, but I certainly had a lot of fun on the production side of things. Producing is something I would be very interested in doing again.
AB: I found the collaborative experience of working as writers together to be quite organic where our skill sets lay, what we’re interested in doing and how we divvied that up. That worked out really well. Moving forward I am attached as a writer to two other projects coming out, and I’ve been asked quite a bit to script edit as well, which is something I really do enjoy doing. I love being an actor, getting my face painted and going out there doing the things, but there’s also a lovely experience for me on the other side where I’m hanging out in my sweatpants for a couple weeks at a time alone and writing.
TTVJ: You’re both playing characters that seem vastly different from the Carmilla characters you’re well known for. Was that part of the appeal of this project and what can you share about Ruby and Claire? AB: To be honest, one of the last things Natasha and I were interested in doing is just regurgitating the same roles again, especially when playing off each other. We for sure exaggerated and drew out aspects that are closer to ourselves for this project, but certainly very removed from our Carmilla characters. It happened organically and wasn’t a conscious decision, but it is where this different dynamic came from. We’re also playing best friends on CLAIREvoyant and as much fun as we had on Carmilla, our characters probably had the least amount of interaction over the course of the seasons. We didn’t get to play off each other a lot so it was really nice to just dig in some scenes with Nat.
NN: The characters we created are very much a combination of inspiration from people we know or have been roommates with in the past, and a little bit of ourselves in there as well. They are definitely very extreme versions of that, but as an actor I try to inflict myself and colors of myself into every character I play. There’s so many aspects to Carmilla I absolutely relate to and think ‘she is me,’ but there’s also a very reserved, neurotic and analytical side to me and that really describes Claire.
TTVJ: Can you share a little bit about the other characters and the actors playing them? Maybe a little about the relationships they have with Ruby and Claire?
NN: We have a very small cast and only three other actors. First off we have Sabryn Rock, who plays Nico, Claire’s crush. She’s a really cool character and a very smart, patient woman with a very magnetic personality. No bullshit, but still very warm and kind. With Nico, we wanted a character that Ruby might be a little intimidated by and Ruby does not get scared or intimidated by very many things. Sabryn came in and it was immediate. We knew that was our Nico. It’s interesting because we wrote the character, but we didn’t know what she was going to look like or who was going to play her. It was really cool that Sabryn was really a part of creating her too in a way.
Jsin Sasha (Designated Survivor, The Strain, Dowry) plays Xavier, Ruby’s boyfriend, who interestingly enough, only speaks French throughout the entire series. We are a Canadian production and I used to live in Montreal, so it was slightly inspired by the fact that I had friends who used to only speak French to me and I would only speak English to them, yet somehow we understood one another. He’s very artistic, funny and just a lovely guy. We do have a queer storyline, but we also wanted to show a relationship between a man and a woman where it’s very healthy.
AB: Jsin brought so much to the character and one of the things we were really looking for in that character, because he does speak a different language and comes in and out, was an actor who can handle some physical comedy as well. Jsin really soared with that.
Also, since I had something to do with the casting, we got some curly-haired folk up in this show! I remember Sabryn was like ‘I can straighten my hair if you want,’ and Jsin said ‘I normally straighten my hair,’ and I said ‘no, no, no! We are keeping the curl!’ [laughs]
NN: Then of course we have Theresa Tova, who was awesome, and plays Madame Sonnom. I really don’t want to say much about her except that she’s a mysterious, mature, psychic lady.
Planning on checking out CLAIREvoyant? Add your thoughts below!
CLAIREvoyant premieres Wednesday, May 16 at 7 p.m. ET on KindaTV.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.