As film and television move into new media, high quality web-based interactive and multiplatform storytelling is finally getting due recognition at Canada’s film and television awards. The Canadian Screen Awards (Geminis) recognized digital media in 2010, and the Leos followed in 2013.
This year, Vancouver’s own The True Heroines achieved national prominence at the Canadian Screen Awards with a nomination for Original Series-Digital Media Fiction, and won Best Web Series at the Leos. The True Heroines is a unique dramedy for the web with a feminist edge that combines a burlesque, science fiction, 1950’s style talkie with live cabaret shows, and an upcoming print comic.
After performing together in Vancouver’s popular cabarets, multi-talented Fiona Vroom, Jovanna Huguet, and Paula Giroday began to dream about finding a way to bridge the gap between film and cabaret.
“Small web series inspired us,” said Vroom. “The web has no barriers and we could create a smaller scale project.” At the time Vroom, Huguet, and Giroday looked to the Canadian series Sanctuary as a model. It began as an eight-series webisode, but was picked up by Syfy network and transformed into a TV series.
The True Heroines is a unique dramedy for the web with a feminist edge.
Friend and cabaret compatriot Joel Sturrock, a performer and choreographer, added his talents to the mix and together the four came up with the idea for The True Heroines.
There’s nothing like The True Heroines out there; as Huguet said, in the British Columbia film and television industry, “when they see a good idea they jump on it. Everyone we approached said yes. So, I guess, we must have had a good idea.” It was not long before The True Heroines found their director, Michelle Ouellet, and their writer, Nicholas Carella.
The story follows three housewives with superpowers who lead double lives in small-town Paradise Hill. They are products of a wartime research project, run by The Corporation, to develop super soldiers, otherwise known as Humans with Special Abilities (H.S.A.’s). The three were cabaret dancers in the military entertainment services during World War II. The time is now 1951, and The Corporation is hunting down the H.S.A.’s to hide evidence of their experiments. Hiding their superpowers from their husbands, the true heroines make sure they have “dinner on the table by six” as they try to discover what happened to them and stop The Corporation.
The talented team founded the production company, The True Heroines Entertainment, in 2010 and independently funded two pilot webisodes through live cabaret shows. They then spent two more years fundraising to finish the remaining three episodes in the first season. “It feels surreal. I’m so proud of us,” said Giroday. “We worked with such amazing talent, and our team really pulled together. It feels like we did the right thing.”
On top of gaining critical recognition, The True Heroines recently attracted interest from an executive at Bell Media, and Ouellet and Carella managed to pitch to the Space Network while at the Canadian Screen Awards.
The True Heroines are feeling good about the future, said Giroday: “We’ve had the opportunity to be in front of the right eyes, so we will have to see.”