Carmilla. Maybe you’ve heard of it and its fans, who are affectionately known as ‘Creampuffs’. First released on August 19, 2014, Carmilla has spanned three series on YouTube, as well as a Movie with a Primetime series in Development. It follows Laura Hollis (Elise Bauman), our own Lauronica Mars, as she investigates the disappearance of her roommate Betty Spielsdorf and is assigned a new roommate, the Vampire, Countess Mircalla “Carmilla” von Karnstein (Natasha Negovanlis). They are joined, over the course of the series, by the rest of their ‘Scooby Gang’ consisting of LaFontaine (Kaitlyn Alexander), Perry (Annie Briggs), Mel (Nicole Stamp), Danny (Sharon Belle), and Kirsch (Matt O’Connor), and investigate the supernatural goings-on around their University, Silas, in picturesque Styria. The movie follows the Scooby Gang as they return to Styria, to the Schloss once occupied by Carmilla, and her then lover Elle (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), to prevent the re-vampification of Carmilla.
But what makes it so popular? One year after the release of the movie on October 26, 2017, We asked for fans to submit what Carmilla means to them and what impact it has had on them. Let’s start with our editor.
I had known about Carmilla through Tumblr for a while before I decided to watch. I remember it was June in 2015 before Season two aired, and I had a day off work, so I figured I’d watch it. I ended up watching the entire first series twice through that day. Before then, I had come to the realization that I was not straight, but I hadn’t told anyone. It had taken me years to figure it out. I always thought ‘Well if I was gay, wouldn’t I know it by now?’ How little did I know? Two days after I watched it, I came out to my best friend. A week after that, I was out to my parents and sisters. Without Carmilla, I would not have had the guts to do so.
FanExpo 2017, my second FanExpo Experience where I met some of my friends.It’s not known by anyone, people always asked, but I never gave the full answer, but Carmilla was a major deciding factor in where I wanted to live. Since I was 18, I had known that I was going to live in another country, but I never seemed to settle anywhere. Then I watched Carmilla, filmed in Toronto, and it all seemed to click into place. My heart was immediately drawn to Toronto. I’m not 100% sure why it was. I’d made all sorts of plans and had researched other countries before, but something always prevented me from pulling the trigger and going for it. One year later, I had moved there. A couple of months in, I attended my first convention, FanExpo, because the Carmilla cast were there, and I got to meet them all for the first time. After that, I attended another one, and then the Carmilla Movie. Without doing that, I would never have met some of my best friends. We met at the movie premiere, clicked instantly over this one thing that we all loved, and named ourselves the Pickle Group. Without these amazing people, I would never have gone to ClexaCon. I would never have been in a Meet and Greet with Natasha Negovanlis. I would never have met another group of my friends. I would never have had such a memorable time living in Toronto, and yes, I would never have started this little site that could.
The Carmilla Movie Premiere, October 26th, 2017, where I met some of my best friends.So many amazing experiences have happened because of Carmilla. I’ve met the cast several times, been to ClexaCon, made so many friends, and even got to be at the Canadian Screen Awards in 2018 in the Fan Zone and got to watch first hand as Elise Bauman ran up to the stage to collect her Fan Choice award and present a speech which left me in tears. I owe my life to Carmilla. I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I would probably still be in the closet, and would never have had the amazing life I had in Toronto. I would never have met my found family and have met so many amazing people. Carmilla saved me from a potentially dark place. I wasn’t happy before Carmilla, but since then I have been irrevocably changed. Carmilla has taught me that even when the fight is at its bleakest point, you have to go on. You have to fight for what you believe in and do what is right. Carmilla means everything to me, and much more than what my words can describe.
I was an adult before I saw my first lesbian kiss on television and I struggled with my sexuality for 25 years. I say neither of those things for sympathy but to illustrate the importance of representation for the LGBTQQIA2+ community in the media, be that radio, TV, film or Web. I don’t know that the lack of representation was the reason that I struggled but I know that it didn’t help. It didn’t help me to feel accepted, it didn’t help me to come out to my parents, and it didn’t help me broach the subject with my friends. Slowly but surely, I have seen the level of representation increase and it has never been as high as it is now, in my opinion.
There is still a long way to go but Carmilla, the little web series that came out of nowhere and punched us all in the face with its diverse characters and awesome representation, that wasn’t the story, but was incidental to it, led the way in that media. Carmilla is the yardstick that all other web series of this kind will be measured against because, before it, there was nothing like it. The Carmilla series was funny, poignant, thoughtful, sweet and showed us that being brave is scary but necessary, that love can happen in the strangest of circumstances and that being different is OK, better than OK, it can be wonderful. Carmilla also showcased women, it starred women, for the most part, was produced and written by women and as a result, the women and non-binary involved have embraced their place as advocates for the community, either as members or allies. The impact of their presence in amongst us cannot be underestimated.
I discovered Carmilla because I like to see myself represented in the media, and I was trawling through YouTube and came upon Hollstein. That was it, I was hooked, and since then I can’t actually remember what my life was like before her. This broody lesbian vampire who I, quite frankly, adore. Carmilla, Laura, LaF, Perry, et al stole my heart and finally made me feel so proud of who I am. Through it I have had the courage to go to my first Pride March as an out lesbian, I have met and connected with others on social media from all across the world and I am now planning my first trip to a fan convention that I am sick with excitement about.
Carmilla also introduced me to many other awesome web series and I will forever be grateful to it for that too. Series with great representation, celebrating our community not by highlighting it, but by ‘normalizing’ it. Treating it as part of everyday life, which for me, now, it is. It has made me want to advocate for our community and to work towards acceptance for all, by all. It is hard to imagine that one little web series could do that, but it did.
I first discovered Carmilla in March of 2016, when I was 13 years old. My life had been slipping downhill for a while, as repressed memories had come flooding back. During this time I did whatever I could to escape from reality. I think the show was recommended by YouTube, and I watched it all in one sitting. I don’t think I slept that night. It was all I could think about, and before I could even realize, it had become the most important thing in my life. Throughout this, my mental health continued to decline. I stopped sleeping. I stopped going to school. I had daily panic attacks. I stopped leaving my house. I was holding onto life by a thread, and that thread was Carmilla. I watched and rewatched the show almost every day, memorizing every detail. During a panic attack, I would replay all of season one in my head until I calmed down. I would watch it when it all got too much and it was the only thing that still made sense, I would watch it at four in the morning when my thoughts got too loud and I would watch it when I needed to calm down. It became my safety net, it began to feel like home.
That summer I went to FanExpo, my first convention ever. I went to the Carmilla panel and it was one of the happiest moments of my life, I just remember thinking about how it was all so real. I met people who liked the show too, people who cared about it as much as I did. I met an artist named Tara (@taradraws) who talked about Carmilla with me, and I met Christine who was cosplaying as a character from Wynonna Earp, she was the first real person I had met who liked the same shows as me. Carmilla remained my safety net through my first year of high school, I needed it more than ever that year. Last year was the hardest year of my life, but Carmilla was there right beside me, holding my hand through it all. I tasked myself with the project of visiting all the places Carmilla was filmed in order to have a reason to leave my house; I’ve been to almost every place now. I never want to forget the impact that Carmilla made on my life, how it saved my life. Because even now, Carmilla feels like home.
I found Carmilla when I was going through a rough time in my life. It was May of 2017 and I suffered from bad anxiety to the point where I was medicated and could hardly function. I remember being up late one night, visibly upset and was in a YouTube black hole. It was there that I stumbled upon Carmilla. Watching the first episode, I was automatically sucked in. Where was Betty? What was going on? Needless to say, I binged the entire show in 2 days. I was so intrigued and captivated by this show and the story that was happening that it distracted me from what was going on in my own life. I remember rewatching it all over again, picking up on things I missed the first time through and falling in love with it all over again. My mom saw a change in me after that; I started smiling and even laughing because I found other videos that the cast of Carmilla have been in and it gave me such a comfort. If I ever felt myself slipping back into the darkness or needed a small pick me up, I would go watch one of my favorite videos and even just seeing their faces brought me such peace.
I feel Carmilla impacts my day every day. Whether I’m wearing a t-shirt, reading Hollstein fanfiction, ‘Love Will Have its Sacrifices’ comes on my shuffle, or locking at my lock screen of me with Elise and Natasha, Carmilla is with me every day. I have never felt more accepted in a fandom before. This fandom is so inclusive and accepting of everyone. I’ll never forget the feeling I felt at ClexaCon Las Vegas 2018 meeting so many Creampuffs as well as meeting my idols, Elise and Natasha. It was so life changing and I reflect on it very often. I know every fandom says they’re the best fandom, but Creampuffs truly are the best fandom! We have no chill, that’s why both Natasha and Elise won the fan award from the CSA’s. I stick around in this fandom because it pushes me forward. Elise and Natasha are such big role models for me and I look up to them so much. They inspire me every single day and they remind me that our voices matter.
There is absolutely no way to quantify what ‘Carmilla’ means to its fans. It means so many different things to us all, but I think it is safe to say that ‘Carmilla’ has provided a safe space for us all. It has provided us with a family, a vital family to some who do not have the support of their own. It has provided a foundation for so many of us to be happier and healthier. The impact that ‘Carmilla’ has had is felt around the world, and by so many of us. I guess the only thing left is to show this one sign that I think says everything that we all feel about this amazing web series that could.
One of the signs that were held up at FanExpo 2017 that I kept to remind me of this amazing web series/movie.-Written by Christine