What do a lethal retro salon chair, a friendly kidnapping, sudden superpowers and Salmon Arm have in common?
The answer is each will have a role to play in Abracadavers, a science fiction/drama/dark comedy series that goes into production early May, and is expected to air on Telus Optik TV on Demand towards the end of the summer.
The independently produced Abracadavers revolves around Chris, an old salon chair and a road trip with friends to small communities throughout Alberta and B.C.– including a stop in Salmon Arm sometime in late May.
“The show follows Chris, who is my character, whose mother dies in a hair salon chair accident – a very niche market, but hear me out,” explains Abracadavers actor/executive producer Griffin Cork. “Chris’ character has OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), so he starts getting very compulsive about the chair and won’t leave it. So his friends go, mmm, we need to get him away from this, so they take him on this summer road trip.
“But he won’t leave without the chair because it reminds him of his mother. So they take the chair with him and, along the way, they start – without giving too much away – experiencing very supernatural powers and abilities with very shady organizational folk following them and things unfold.”
Packed together in an old Chevy Astro van, Chris and friends Gabriel (Jordan Wright), Maria (Courtney Charnock), Allie and Paul (being recast), along with the salon chair, are scheduled to visit a few Salmon Arm locations.
“I believe we’re set up at a Salmon Arm residence and a Salmon Arm business I think and the surrounding countryside and highways…,” said Cork, again not wanting to give too much away. “We have some hotels set up and we’re convoying a whole bunch of cars for the rest of the cast and the crew.”
Cork and fellow Alberta-based filmmakers Josef Wright and Morgan Ermter credit Telus’ Storyhive initiative for the funding and support needed to move Abracadavers from pilot to series.
Asked about an origin story – an element common among narratives involving superpowers – Cork said it would be hinted at through flashbacks, but the first season would largely focus on the basics: introduction/development of characters, the style of the show and the writing.
“One of my favourite parts is the aesthetic look of it, the design and the colours, which is our production designer Kenya Weaver, God bless her,” said Cork.
Cork wouldn’t say where inspiration for Abracadavers came from, but suggests Max Landis and Josh Trank’s low budget, found-footage hit Chronicle, featuring three high school seniors who acquire telekinetic powers, is close to the mark.
The chair itself also had something to do with it.
“Where the hair salon chair came from, myself and Morgan and Joe, the other executive producers, we were walking in an alley at one point and we just found it and it was amazing and it was, like, pretty intact and in good shape…,” said Cork. “So we had to borrow my buddy’s truck and bring it around and we’re just like, we have to put this in the show somehow. And as we kept writing it became fairly keystone. It kind of just folded out that way.”
Cork says he and the crew are looking forward to hitting the road spending some time in B.C. and Salmon Arm.
“We like the gorgeous look of B.C. and we wish we had weather like you guys,” laughs Cork.