Everybody’s got a vlog these days, so why should someone like Mina Murray be any different? Yes, the character has stepped from the pages of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and into the 21st Century in James Moran’s new web-series Mina Murray’s Journal, which has just launched with its very first episode!
This modern Mina is in her early 20s, sharing a flat with her friend Lucy, working at one of the top three estate agencies in the country, and she’s just been offered the chance to go to Romania on a work trip…and you can check out the first episode below.
We talked to the writer of Severance, Cockneys Vs Zombies, and Doctor Who about what inspired him to put this spin on a classic tale, the challenges of vlllllogging, and his favourite take on Dracula.
What would be your quick pitch for Mina’s Journal?
It’s a modernised, vlog adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, flipped around and updated so that Mina and Lucy are the main characters. Also, it’s got more jokes.
It’s great to see a character like Mina get more of a voice, was that how this project came about?
It mainly popped into my head as a fun way to update the book and tell it in a completely new way – Lizzie Bennett had already been a success, and proved that you could take classic novels and adapt them to vlog format. I was still worried that nobody would watch, or might think it was too weird, which is why I kept it quiet for a while. And the first decision I made was to have Mina as the main character – I always found her and Lucy far more interesting than Jonathan and the 800 other stoic men, and wanted to give them all the fun stuff.
Rosie Holt and Kate Soulsby are great as Mina and Lucy! How did they get involved?
They are wonderful, and hilarious. I’d seen some of Rosie’s comedy online, she trained as an actor so brings a soulful, almost tragic truth to her sketches, which just made them even funnier. She just felt like exactly the right person for the part. Kate we found through an exhaustive online casting process, whittling down lots of *great* people – the saddest thing about casting a role is that only one person can play it, and you have to say no to so many brilliant people. They were both really up for the challenge, and I think they bring the characters to life perfectly.
What’s been the biggest challenge of the webseries/vllllllog format?
It’s pronounced vlllllllllllllllllllog, actually… Biggest challenge is sticking to the format without having everything happen off-screen – it’s fine to do that in a novel, because it’s still describing the action in the same way, but you have to show more in a visual format. So a mix of describing stuff and having them catch strange events on camera. That, and keeping it feeling natural and realistic, when it’s so easy to puncture the illusion with a dodgy cut. But the good thing about vlogs is that we can supplement them with in-character Twitter accounts, Tumblr posts, etc. It’s great fun to plot things that will pay off later.
It’s refreshing to see some of the book’s sexual subtext discussed so openly! Is it fun to not only update the technology from the book but the attitudes as well?
Absolutely, that was an early decision as well, to have Mina be an out and proud bisexual, but then just not have to refer to it much because it doesn’t define who she is, it’s just part of her – representation is very important to me, as a straight white male I obviously have plenty of on-screen people like me, so I have a responsibility not to just populate my stuff with more of the same. I also wanted to update the “which handsome man will I marry” thing, and make it more fluid, so anyone could end up with anyone, really. And Lucy obviously has her own sexuality which isn’t discussed up front, she’s not as brave as Mina yet. That will come up more later, obviously I don’t want to jump to the next part of the story too early, but I think it’s pretty clear early on who Lucy would like to be with – but will she ever find the courage to say anything?
There are obviously some changes, but is the plan to generally stick to the structure of the novel?
More or less, I’ve stripped it back and simplified a lot to keep the story moving – to balance the action/off-screen stuff in a vlog I have to do that. There are lots of great moments I’ll be taking and doing in our own particular way, think of it more as a faster version! Also, I know that you all know the story, so I’m going to be toying with your expectations and throwing some surprises into the mix.
Finally, which adaptation of Dracula is your favourite?
Got to love the Hammer original, with Christopher Lee, but a close second would be Nosferatu, and then the Coppola one. Christopher Lee is a terrifying, charming, sexy mofo, and I don’t think anyone’s going to beat him in any department.