Jade knows when you’re going to die: Erin Good and Taylor Litton-Strain on Jade of Death
Do you ever wonder when you’re going to die?
Jade of Death‘s Jade knows. Written and directed by Erin Good and produced by Taylor Litton-Strain, supernatural thriller webseries Jade of Death premiered at Mardi Gras Film Festival on 23 February 2018. With a strong creative team and great cast (Bernie Van Tiel, Nicholas Hope, Sara West), Jade of Death follows Jade, from a freak show carnival to the discovery that she is more than she realises.
We spoke to Erin Good and Taylor Litton-Strain about the webseries.
You must be really excited to have the series premiering at Mardi Gras Film Festival. Will you be enjoying the festival after the premiere?
Erin: So excited! I just hope the audience love it. I’ve already seen a couple of films. I wish I could see all of them.
Taylor: It’s great to be premiering with Queer Screen, I always love the films they program and it’s great to be part of the line-up this year! I’ve gotten to five so far and have lots more booked!
With a total runtime of about 60 minutes, was there ever the temptation to flesh season 1 out into a feature length movie?
Erin: No because the narrative structure is very suited to television. There was a temptation to put it together as an hour-long TV pilot, but ultimately I wrote what it needed as a short form series. My priority was to ensure that it was totally satisfying as a full season of a web series.
Taylor: Both Erin and I were keen for Jade of Death to feel more like a mini television series than a feature film, to showcase our abilities in creating longer form episodic content.
Tell me more about the symbolism surrounding Maya. Seeing the angel wings and the use of pink – is this a nod to her playing a ‘saviour’ role, or at least acting as a conduit for Jade to experience a side of life she’d been denied?
Erin: Well Maya’s a fairy. She’s the fairy of the haunted house. But yes Maya is the much-needed light to Jade’s life. Maya sees Jade the way Jade wishes she could be, and ultimately she will help Jade become the most true version of herself. It’s hard to talk more about this without giving too much away. The cinematographer and I made sure that whenever Maya was in a scene, pink was introduced into the lighting. The reason for this is to show how much of an effect Maya has on Jade. When Jade is with Maya the world literally looks different and more beautiful.
Taylor: Maya as a character really grew in scope from casting. Jade always had a love interest in the early stages of development, but it wasn’t until we cast Jordan Cowan as Maya that Erin really started exploring the idea of her being the fairy from the haunted house and just how deep Jade and Maya’s connection could go. It was great to see Erin develop the character in this way, organically with the actors and what they could bring in mind.
As a platform to explore the issues that young women face (and of course, there are many), is there anything you didn’t get the chance to explore in season 1 that you’d like to delve into further?
Erin: Yes. In season two we’re further exploring how young women recognise and use their power in a world that’s trying snatch it away. The seeds for this have been planted in the first season but it’s in season two where it will come to fruition. I’m really excited to completely delve into that theme.
Taylor: We’re actually in development for the second season now with ABC and Screen Australia. It’s been a really fantastic process so far, Erin is co-writing this time with Huna Amweero another fantastic writer and we’ve been getting great feedback. So if anyone sees the first season and is hoping for more – don’t worry we’ve got it coming!
Jade’s upbringing in a small country town appears to be a key factor in her development as a character. What was the motivation for giving her this background? Does this speak to the isolating nature of small country towns and the isolation many queer people feel growing up?
Erin: That part of the story world does represent Jade’s isolation – her abilities have always made her feel other. And that can be a metaphor for so many things. I left that open because we all have an array of different things that make us feel isolated. For me personally it more ties into the intensity of mother/daughter relationships. In this story-world it feels like Jade and her mum are the only two people on earth.
Would you say the growing acceptance of queer communities in Australia has made it easier to write LGBTIQ characters for TV?
Erin: I would assume so. It feels like the acceptance and visibility of queer communities is becoming more part of the social consciousness, and that social consciousness can feed into what’s created in the industry. However because I live in the inner-city and have friends who are similar to me it’s hard to know if it’s just my little social bubble. I would say that audiences are getting bored with the dominant screen stories being about white, middle class, straight people, and usually male protagonists. And that (hopefully) is making it easier to get LGBTIQ central characters on screen. Visibility is so important and I think a lot people underestimate how much it influences them.
Taylor: We are finally seeing some more LGBTIQ characters on TV which is great but there’s still so few, and there is a really limited range of diversity in the representation of LGBTQI characters. I personally find it frustrating watching TV shows which don’t reflect the diversity of the world around me. I think this is one of the reasons why webseries and online content has really exploded over the last few years. People like Erin and I are creating the content we want to see that isn’t being delivered to us by mainstream media, and there is a large audience out there who are hungry to watch it.
As Jade discovers more about her powers, will we see more supernatural beings like her appear in season 2?
Erin: Yes. Many ☺ The story-world opens up in season two and Jade meets other people like her. Jade gets the chance to really indulge in her powers, but this leads her down a dark path.
Taylor: We can’t say too much now but we’ll reveal more about season two as we can on our Facebook and Instagram pages, so people should stayed tuned there if they’re keen to see what’s coming up!
Jade of Death premiered at Mardi Gras on 23 February. Watch the trailer here and follow the series on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Jade of Death is also being developed into a second season with the ABC and Screen Australia.