The creator of The Vampire Diaries, Kevin Williamson, has come full circle with The Secret Circle.
The Vampire Diaries, about to raise the curtain on its third season, is filmed in a small town outside Atlanta, but the pilot episode was filmed in the Vancouver area, in the spring of 2009.
Fast-forward two and a half years, and the new companion series, The Secret Circle, which bows Thursday on The CW (Friday on MuchMusic), has put down stakes once again in Vancouver, this time to stay.
Williamson, along with co-writers Andrew Miller and Gina Girolamo, adapted The Secret Circle from the series of young adult novels by Vampire Diaries author L.J. Smith. The story stars Life Unexpected's Brittany Robertson as a recently orphaned teen sent to stay with her grandmother in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. While there, she learns she has long-buried unearthly powers, and the town is not entirely as it seems. The Secret Circle is more Wiccan than Vampirian in tone, but that didn't stop Williamson from seeing Vancouver as a natural fit for his new series.
The "Lower Mainland look" has an eerie quality all its own, especially in the rain, Williamson allows.
"The woods are familiar from a lot of shows up there," Williamson said from Los Angeles. "A lot of big vampire movies," he added, deadpan.
True, the region has experienced an uncharacteristically dry spell in recent weeks, but B.C.'s late summer won't last. The Secret Circle is in it for the long haul.
The pilot episode, filmed earlier this year, was anchored in and around the Steveston area, in Richmond. Williamson says he was drawn to Steveston because of its historic feel, and because the boardwalk has an authenticity that could never be recreated on a sound stage -- least of all in Burbank, California.
Williamson's adaptation of The Vampire Diaries survived early (and inevitable) comparisons to True Blood and the Twilight films to stake a claim as something similar, yet different, with a voice uniquely its own. In its two seasons so far, The Vampire Diaries has struck a chord with younger viewers looking for something with more long-term resonance and meaning than a series of feature films. The Vampire Diaries has told 44 hours of story so far, Williamson notes, with at least another 20 or 40 hours yet to come.
Williamson hopes to create a similar alchemy with The Secret Circle. He wants to tap the Lower Mainland's acting community of young performers, in part because he has always favoured relative unknowns over established stars. Williamson was instrumental in nurturing the careers of Joshua Jackson, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams and James Van Der Beek, when they were relative unknowns in Dawson's Creek, Williamson's breakout series for The WB in the late 1990s.
Williamson was "blown away, absolutely and simply blown away" by relative unknown and Degrassi alum Nina Dobrev, when the Toronto teen auditioned for the lead role in The Vampire Diaries. The role was proving near impossible to cast; by his own estimation, Williamson says he saw "thousands of auditions," none of which felt exactly right. Williamson fought hard to get Dobrev the role, despite initial misgivings by the network and studio, which wanted a more familiar and experienced actor in the part. As luck -- and savvy casting -- would have it, almost everything associated with The Vampire Diaries has turned to gold.
Williamson feels a similar vibe is happening with The Secret Circle, even though it has yet to air. Even if The Secret Circle were to conjure a similar fate as The Vampire Diaries, though, that doesn't mean it will be easy.
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