Bummed that Emma Woodhouse didn’t make it into Austenland? Worry not: Jane Austen’s meddling matchmaker is coming back as a lesbian and practitioner of witchcraft. In a film that started shooting this week, Emma frequents Enchantments, a Wiccan shop in the East Village.
Writer-director Kelsey O’Brien, who also stars in Enchantments, chose the setting on the recommendation of her friend Cat Cabral, who manages the shop filled with mystical knickknacks (it specializes in engraved, glittery candles that a Wiccan burns for seven days to cast an intention spell). In the film, Cabral plays Emma’s love interest (so, Mr. Knightly, but a practicing witch).
“We wanted to be respectful and show that Wiccan is a religion,” O’Brien said. “There won’t be any flashes of blue light or anything like that. There are spells, rituals, and tarot cards, but in a much more realistic way.”
The Wiccan aspects of O’Brien’s script were added later, as her original motivation for making the film came from a desire to portray a relatable love story between LGBT characters, rather than an “LGBT love story” in which either coming out or living as LGBT becomes the whole point of the movie.
“The main characters are a lesbian couple, but they aren’t finding themselves or anything,” she said. “They already know who they are.”
O’Brien hopes to complete the film in time to enter it in SXSW 2014. She had a fairly successful Indie Go Go campaign, and received various other donations, including a lump sum of $3,000. The rest of the money needed to produce the film will come out of her pocket. Most of the actors and technicians are happily working pro bono, according to O’Brien, because it’s a passion project for all involved.
“We just wanted to show that love is universal,” she said. “I hope that people who have been in love, and who are falling in love right now, whether they are gay or straight, can identify with these characters and their love.”