Spooked: Web series brings Australian actor visibilityWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
We meet them as they arrive on the scene of their first case, a pesky poltergeist haunting the suburban home of a pair of newlyweds. The five members of the team pile out of a repurposed Winnebago, looking less like Mulder and Scully (or even the Ghostbusters) than like a group of college pals on some wild vacation. On the side of their ride is written the group’s name: Paranormal Investigation Team. The acronym, one assumes, was unintentional.
“They are the cheapest team money can buy and it kind of shows,” said actor Julian Curtis in an interview with Toledo Free Press.
Curtis is the lead of this ragtag group of ghost catchers in “Spooked,” the new Internet series airing on Hulu and the YouTube-based Geek and Sundry network. The half-hour comedy — executive produced by Bryan Singer and Felicia Day — debuted June 4.
Connor, Curtis’ character, is not just the leader but in many ways the emotional center of the show’s story, he noted.
“He walks this fine line between being a people-pleaser and being an authoritarian,” Curtis said. “The latter is not a good fit for him and he ends up causing more upset despite his best intentions. His protective bond with his sister — an aspect of the story our director Richard Martin was very focused on — gives the show ‘weight’ and — dare I use the cliché — ‘heart’ to the show.”
Don’t get the wrong ide. This is no heavy drama.
Rather, its flat-out comedy, with supernatural silliness sprinkled throughout the show’s four-episode run. It’s said that getting laughs is harder than creating drama, but drama gets the awards because when comedy works, it looks easy. Curtis argued that might actually be getting even truer these days.
“I do believe comedy is harder in modern film and TV. Back in the day — even in the ’90s — we had longer takes, used traditional and pricey film, etc. I feel this gave the actor more incentive to come 100 percent prepared. Now, it’s a little more casual with digital technology and I don’t think it’s in a good way. Post-production can save a bad performance too, but in comedy, it’s trickier to fake that stuff.”
For Curtis, a native Australian who is just beginning to get a foothold in American film, getting a role on a pretty prominent Web series surrounded by established talent — Neil Grayston of “Eureka,” Ashley Johnson of “The Last of Us” — might seem like a lot of pressure, especially when he plays such a central role. But Curtis didn’t have much time to ruminate on such things.
“You know, I came on only two days before production so there wasn’t really any time to overthink it in that way,” he said. “I just jumped in and hoped for the best. I probably never worried about it because everyone around me was so great and the crew and production team were so brilliant.”
The series was filmed in a sprint of creativity last November. While in lesser hands the frenetic pace of the production might have derailed the combination of scares and humor the series aims for, Curtis again credits the professionalism of the crew — particularly director Martin — for keeping the show on track.
“It was certainly fast and furious. Although, for whatever reason, I never felt stressed. [Martin] has a calming influence as a director, which is a pretty special gift particularly with how demanding the schedule is. The schedule was more like a feature film than a TV series. We would jump back and forth between the four episodes based on location rather than the chronology of the story. It was such a fun, dynamic set and we’ve all become genuine friends. We are definitely eager to return and play together again.”
Indeed, that’s the main sense one gets from “Spooked” and its leading man — the feeling of shared joy at something that was genuinely fun to put together. And an overriding desire to share it once more.
“I hope people love it as much as we do. Then we can make more. I think they will. Paranormal comedy is definitely not a new thing but there is a freshness here that I think may strike a chord.”
Tags: Australia, Bryan Singer, Comedy, Eureka, Felicia Day, Ghostbusters, Hulu, Internet, Julian Curtis, Mulder, Neil Grayston, paranormal, Poltergeist, Scully, Spooked, supernatural silliness, web series, Winnebago, YouTube