[Exclusive] Director Robin Nyström on his magic-comedy web series 'Tracy Buckles': "Everyone deserves to be seen and heard"
'Tracy Buckles' is not your regular show on magic; it has scary spells, evil witches and a whole lot of comedy to keep you entertained with its crisp nuances.
Hollywood has its fair share of films and tv shows on magic but what it lacked until now was a comic take on the concept. And this is exactly how and where Robin Nystrom steps in. While it might not be a feature-length film or even a limited TV series, but his web-series called 'Tracy Buckles' is every bit as funny and authentic as something about magic should be when turned into a comedy.
The web series "follows the aspiring actress Tracy who finds herself swept away by a never-ending string of magical misadventures." Exciting right? But it gets better as the story also showcases "a great female lead, and a story full of curses and spells and evil witches."
With Ana Lake playing the titular character of Tracy, Macy Wilson as Janie Cunningham, and Sergio Gavidia as No One, the film's response have been pretty commendable too; especially since it is a part of the episodic competition this year at the LA Film Festival.
Writer and director, Robin Nystrom has done a pretty neat job at executing exactly what one expects from a comedy on the topic of magic. Full of strange dialects and spooky spells, especially for 'Spiderman' fans, here's what Robin had to share with Meaww on his film.
Your web series has been described as a “mash-up between 'Harry Potter' and a Judd Apatow comedy." How does it feel being compared to such big franchises? Does the comparison add a lot more pressure?
I’m flattered more than anything else! We set out to create an R-rated comedy show that could appeal to a generation who grew up on the 'Harry Potter' books and movies. So we think it’s a pretty good way to describe 'Tracy Buckles,' even though it adds a lot of pressure for sure. I’m a huge fan of fantasy literature, including 'Harry Potter' and the 'Lord of the Rings' novels, so it’s been a total blast to create a contemporary world where spells and curses and evil witches feel right at home.
The first time Tracy tries to cast a spell, she makes certain hand gestures, and that reminded me of Toby Maguire's first 'Spiderman' movie. Was it inspired by that?
Yes, I’m so glad you picked up on that. I love the cinematic works of Sam Raimi. He’s such a talented filmmaker. We specifically referenced Raimi’s 'Spider-Man' movie in our first episode when Tracy is trying to learn how to wield a simple spell. We were also heavily inspired by particular camera movements and lighting effects that Raimi utilized in his earlier horror movies when we created our epic curse sequence. So I hope his influence can be felt throughout the show.
Tell us a little about the language that Janie and Mrs. Buckles converse in. Did it require extensive research to arrive at the nuances you've executed in the film?
It was obvious from the very start that the world of Tracy Buckles demanded a magical language for its wizards and witches. We settled on using Hebrew for this purpose. I think there’s a lot of power in a language that has been spoken for thousands of years, and I also love the sound of it. So we collaborated with a local linguist who translated the spells and curses from English to Hebrew. He then worked one-on-one with our actors to teach them proper pronunciation. In the end, it required many hours of preparation for Macie Wilson (who plays Janie Cunningham) and Ana Lake (who plays Tracy Buckles) to deliver the magical spells in Hebrew.
Most of the movies and shows based on magical powers have been serious drama or fantasies, not a comedy at least. What exactly made you go for the concept of a 'never-ending string of magical misadventures'? Did you draw inspiration from any stories based on magical-fiction for 'Tracy Buckles'?
While writing 'Tracy Buckles,' I found a lot of inspiration in comedic fantasy literature, such as Douglas Adams’ 'The Hitchhiker’s Guide' to the Galaxy and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. I love the quirky characters and wacky plot twists inherent to those books. So it seemed natural to create a witty and irreverent fantasy comedy of my own. In terms of cinematic influences, we drew plenty of inspiration from the visual comedy found in Edgar Wright’s movies, particularly 'Scott Pilgrim.'
Were there any challenges you had to overcome with the film? What are your expectations with the viewers' reception of the film?
We had an extremely low budget for this project, so it was a serious challenge to pull off all the special effects and world building that a fantasy adventure deserves. Thankfully, our entire cast and crew were amazing collaborators who invested so much time and skill in every episode of 'Tracy Buckles.' Our intention was to make a massively entertaining series. We hope that people will fall in love with our quirky characters and their heartfelt relationships. Moreover, we wanted to explore some larger themes within the confines of our story.
In the first episode, the main character Tracy falls victim to a despicable curse that prevents other people from hearing her voice. The pain of not feeling acknowledged is very real, and it’s something that I think everyone has experienced at some point in their lives. Hopefully, Tracy Buckles can lend a bit of comfort and remind our audience that everyone deserves to be seen and heard.