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[Interview] – Jessica Burn – ‘The Northern Line Series’ – A Web Series

 

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Posted October 23, 2016 by

 
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Imagine a world where gods, immortals and mythical creatures are a part of everyday life. A Sphinx prowls the night, looking for a man to clean up the mean streets, Aphrodite meddles in the affairs of a lovelorn writer, and at the Labyrinth in Borough Market, willing Londoners offer themselves up to a Minotaur. This is the world of The Northern Line Series, created by Jessica Burn and Fall of the House Productions. The Northern Line Series is a series of short films based around London’s Northern Line Stations. Gods and immortals mix and mingle seamlessly with the world around them and mortals can pay homage at various temples located on the Northern Line. But beware, switching allegiances from one god to another can be deadly…

We talked to The Northern Line Series creator Jessica Burn about filmmaking, inspiration and how the ancient Greek world translates into the modern London setting.

The Northern Line Series – Into the Labyrinth:

Interview:

What was the inspiration for creating The Northern Line Series?

I’m not sure exactly where the idea came from. I think it was an amalgamation of a few ideas. At some point about 10 years ago I was working at the Royal Opera House and watching a lot of Opera and Ballet. They draw heavily from the myths. Around that time I think that a new version of Clash of the Titans came out. I was thinking about the Minotaur and Medusa and ‘Into the Labyrinth’ and ‘Medusa’s Kitchen’ came from that. Around that time I was considering the possibilities afforded by the internet and the rise of social networking. I wanted to get all the amazing talented people I know to be involved in one big project that could be hosted online. I think somewhere in all that the thoughts collided.

It’s one thing to have one story in your head begging to be filmed, but you have an entire pantheon! How have you decided which stories you wanted to film thus far, and why?

Weirdly the first one I wrote wasn’t the first one we shot. I think the first was ‘Medusa’s Kitchen’ which is what we’re crowdfunding for now. ‘Into the Labyrinth’ (which was the 3rd to be filmed) was next. When I was thinking about shooting them I was conscious that I had virtually no budget for the first film so I needed something easy. ‘The Guardian of Thebes’ just kind of happened. I loved the idea that the Sphinx was prowling the night in the guise of a prostitute. He voice was really clear, she jumped off the page at me. I have other stories for her too, I have a real journey to take her on.

claire-barrett-in-into-the-labyrinth

I chose ‘A Gift from Aphrodite’ to shoot second because I love Aphrodite’s character and I could introduce the Fates and Hermes too. Plus it is lighter in tone so I thought it would make a good contrast.

After that it felt like time to do the ones I’d written first, almost 8 years ago now.

The Northern Line Series has Greek gods and mythological beings inhabiting London’s Northern Line. Why did you choose this particular setting?

Ok, this is such a disappointing answer but at the time I started to really formulate this project into a big idea, I was living on the Northern Line and travelling on it every day all over London.

It covers so much of the city and so many different neighbourhoods. It’s pretty incredible. I also love that the ends of the line are so remote and I wanted a line that went under the river. The reason for that is that the dead have to travel on the Underworld branch of the Northern Line from Morden, under the river to Bank, where they transfer to the underworld, which is a version of the Circle Line which goes round and round forever.

How easy or difficult has it been translating Greek myths into a modern setting?

It’s so easy, they lend themselves so well to a modern context. There are so many different versions in popular culture and so many people doing their own versions. This one is just mine.

aphrodite-in-gift-3

Many of the cast members of the series are circus performers. What do you think they bring to the series in terms of their performance and work ethic that is unique?

There’s something incredibly disciplined and unfussy about circus artists. We’re all so used to arriving at jobs and having to get on with it on our own. I think also we’re used to chipping in and helping out without any complaints so it makes being on set so easy. ‘A Gift from Aphrodite’ was so easy cause almost every performer had a base in circus or street theatre. They made it so easy.

Why do you think Greek mythology has endured in the public imagination?

Firstly they’re really excellent stories and that will always stand the test of time. Secondly, they’re bananas and again people will always love hearing, reading or watching crazy characters do crazy things. Lastly, they’re about people, the things that are most important to us emotionally, love, loyalty, fidelity, betrayal, honour and folly etc.

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Other than mythology, what else inspires you as a creative?

Pretty much everything. Seriously. I have so many different genres of ideas floating about in my head vying for space. From a magic circus show, bringing the Trojan war to the streets of London, a series about necrophiliacs utilising the idea of the ‘Dark Web’, Vampire hunters, a sci-fi epic, it’s maddening. I can only hope that I’ll get a chance to realise some of them.

Links:

Website: northernlineseries.com
Twitter: twitter.com/Housefall
Instagram: instagram.com/fallofthehouse
Facebook: facebook.com/Northernlineseries
YouTube: youtube.com/channel/UCYWjcOwuG_oTsnsrCzQ2TZw

 

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