One of the fun finds this season on Killjoys has been the introduction of Kelly McCormack as “new nerd” Zeph. If you’re looking for something a little different to watch as summer TV winds down, you can also catch McCormack online in The Neddeaus of Duqesne Island. It’s a delightfully off-kilter “found footage” mockumentary digital series available now on CBC’s website in Canada and on You Tube, which she also executive produced through her company, Floyder Films, alongside series creator Aaron Schroeder‘s Duqesne Island Productions.
The 10-part series, which runs about 90 minutes total, is narrated by Colin Mochrie and subtitled to help you parse the unique, heavily accented dialect and vocabulary. It’s done as a series of vignettes that follow days in the life of an intentionally isolated family.
The married Bichon (Tim Walker) and Vangeline (Tara Samuel) and their three children, Elmer (Schroeder), Eloida (McCormack), and Elène (Caitlin Driscoll), who they lovingly refer to as “The Els,” reside by themselves on the very remote Duqesne Island in 1978, and aside from monthly forays to “the mainland,” they only have each other.
Shot in the familiar washed out colors you know so well from 70s documentaries (or that spoofy GEICO commercial, depending on your age), the series is an homage to the days you had to kill in school watching random documentaries. I spoke with McCormack last month for Killjoys, and our conversation turned toward The Neddeaus.
“The idea was that there’s a feature film unearthed from the CBC archives that’s been released and cut up for 10 parts,” she explains. “For the trailer, we interviewed famous Canadians who remembered seeing it back in the day. I hustled and somehow how got a hold of our 20th Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, David Suzuki, Colin Mochrie, Graham Greene, some crazy famous Canadians. I convinced them to lie on camera and say they had seen this in the 70s.”
If you follow McCormack on Instagram, you might notice behind the scenes photos that were tagged during production with #BasicallyTheRevenant. She says that was to help keep the truth of what they were shooting under wraps.
“We couldn’t call it The Neddeaus because CBC was excited about us releasing it as a real documentary. When we released it at first, we released as real. There was a Reddit about, ‘Is it real, where did this family go?’ When we were shooting, I told the cast and crew, no tagging it The Neddeaus,” she laughs.
“We were shooting in Northern Ontario in the craziest conditions on this remote island with no electricity. I drove boats every morning and we had weird dead animals and furs and animals visiting the set, so we said we’re basically shooting The Revenant.”
“It’s been this hilarious undertaking. This was made as a loving ode to our history in documentary filmmaking, which is unique and bizarre and weird. [As] Canadians in school, substitute teachers would come in and put on these old documentaries that had weird flute sounds. The Neddeaus was created by Aaron Schroeder, who is a really interesting artist.”
“He pitched it to me as a producer. I brought in my theater actor friends like Tim Walker, Caitlin Driscoll, and Tara Samuel to create this weird, bizarre family. It was directed by this incredible director Samuel Zvibleman, who directed the entire series of Take My Wife. He’s a really good comedy director. We toed the line to make it weird and funny and real and heartfelt so it had a special tone.”
“Every time we thought we were going into camp comedy or it was becoming too on the nose, we would push back and make it more authentic. People told me when I pitched the show, ‘You’ll never sell [it]. This is a non-marketplace. It’s weird and bizarre and breaks all the rules for digital series in content and the length of it.’ We broke every rule and it’s doing really, really well. It’s great.”
But first, here’s The Story of the Controversial Lost Documentary: The Neddeaus, the tongue-in-cheek but very serious 10-minute tease about the super-secret project that’s been hush hush until now.
Photos and Video Courtesy of CBC