AMA with Steph Ouaknine (Carmilla/Other Gay Things!)


(Steph O) #1

Hi gang!

I’m Steph at Shaftesbury in Toronto, and I’ve produced original digital series for global brands such as U by Kotex, Tetley Tea, Matua Wine & Schick, as well as 150+ episodes of scripted short form series for broadcasters and streamers. I am now part of the television development team working with a vast network of writers to option, create, develop and pitch hour long dramas to AMC, HULU, Netflix, ITV, Corus, Bell, UKTV and more. Lots to talk about where the division between digital/“broadcast” is concerned.

I’ve co-created, developed and produced Carmilla, the award-winning multi-platform series. Over the course of three seasons, the digital series garnered a worldwide and passionate audience topping 70 million views, earning myself and our team a Cannes Lion Award, Banff Rockie Award, multiple Canadian Screen Awards, Webby, Shorty and Streamy Awards nominations, as well as the CSA Fan’s Choice Award for Carmilla actresses Natasha Negovanlis and Elise Bauman for two consecutive years. In 2018, we took home MIPTV’s “Brand Content of the Year” Award.

I also produced Inhuman Condition, a 33-part digital series named “one of six webseries that deserve to move to TV” by The Guardian, and #2 on the Top 10 Digital Series of 2016 by Paste Magazine. Now in development with Star Trek’s Akiva Goldsman.

Would love to chat about:

  • all the things we did wrong throughout the years, and right!
  • looking for opportunities outside of North America in the digital space
  • how to fund your series with a brand

PS - our first digital original was back in 2011. “Totally Amp’d” for YTV.com and through an app.


THURSDAY: AMA with Carmilla producer/co-creator Stephanie Ouaknine
(Meg Carroway) #2

Yay!! Welcome, Steph! My first question is… how are you today?


(Steph O) #3

Hi Meg! I’m great, thanks for asking. You? (And did this quote properly?!)


(Anna Bateman) #4

Hooray, gay things! Was the Kotex brand partnership something you guys had from the beginning or did that happen after the popularity of the first season?


(Chris Hadley) #5

@StephInTeevee Welcome again, Stephanie! waves Thanks for joining us and for taking the time to answer our questions!


(Bri Castellini) #6

Before typing, press this icon :slight_smile: :


(Bri Castellini) #7

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(Steph O) #8

They financed all three seasons, but only announced our partnership mid-season 1. This was definitely an out of the box experiment for them - and they wanted to see it play out first!


(Bri Castellini) #9

Woo alright now that we’re all settled in our thread, MY first question is… When did you get into filmmaking, and into web series in particular?


(Steph O) #10

YASS. Thank you Bri! And thanks for organizing.


(Meg Carroway) #11

I’m good too! I can’t believe you’re here right now it’s so friggin cool!!! Do you remember how you originally pitched the series? Like how did you describe it in the early stages?


(Steph O) #12

Thanks for having me!


(Jerome Keith) #13

How does the development team your working for operate? Is creating sizzle reels or other proof of concept works a part of the plan for getting it sold?


(Bri Castellini) #14

Qs from the last thread :slight_smile:


(Chris Hadley) #15

Thanks for reposting these, Bri!


(Anna Bateman) #16

That’s so interesting! I had no idea. How did that come to being? Did you pitch THEM? Did they find you from your earlier work?


(Steph O) #17

When I started at Shaftesbury, I mostly worked on what we call the “convergent” webseries for broadcast TV shows. We use to have access to TV top-up funds if we made an “interactive, substantial companion piece” which was not only a great training ground for everyone involved, but a fun way to experiment with transmedia and dig into characters we didn’t spend that much time on in the broadcast episodes. For instance - Murdoch Mysteries - is a period detective drama. The season 5 companion series sent the main cast to the present day, which we could’ve NEVER done on the telly. So it was terribly fun to dabble in what was essentially little digitial AU series.


(Jaime Lancaster) #18

WOW! That’s amazing. I’m an aspiring producer and I wanted to ask if you had any tips/tricks for honing your budget? So we can prioritize and not break the bank but still make something awesome


(Steph O) #19

Shaftesbury has always been savvy enough to keep an eye on the future, and constantly try new formats for experimentation - hence all the digital originals. We’ve done motion comics for HULU, a google glass series (RIP), 10 episodes downloadable within an ep, etc…


(Bri Castellini) #20

How did you start at Shaftesbury?