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Creator Angeline Walsh Stands Out From Established Industry Writers With Independent TV Web Series “The Coroner’s Assistant” With Double Nominations at HCA TV Awards

By Tammy Reese




Angeline Walsh, the creative force behind the double-nominated series ‘The Coroner’s Assistant’ at ‘The Astra Awards,’ shares her surprising reactions to the nominations and reflects on the unconventional path of an independent series in the streaming realm. From Victorian-inspired dark comedy to the challenges of shooting in Cleveland, Walsh delves into the intricacies of her unique project and the collaborative efforts of an all-female creative team. As the awards ceremony approaches, Walsh looks forward to the celebration with her dedicated team, emphasizing the joy of being in the room and the camaraderie that defines her extraordinary journey.




Congratulations on your double nomination for ‘The Coroner’s Assistant’ at ‘The Astra Awards’! How did you initially react when you learned about the nominations?


I laughed because it was so weird to see my name listed alongside the likes of Amy Sherman-Palladino and Rian Johnson. I wasn’t expecting it.


Your series is notably independent and self-distributed on YouTube. How do you feel about being the only independent series in the streaming category and gaining recognition alongside more established productions?


A part of me feels out of place, but another feels like it’s where I deserve to be. I never quite do things the “normal” way, and it’s good to be included despite taking unconventional routes.


Could you share some insights into the creative process behind ‘The Coroner’s Assistant,’ particularly your inspiration for the dark comedy set in Victorian London’s cadaver trade?


The Victorians were such eclectic, complicated, and paradoxical people. I could write stories set in the Victorian era for the rest of my life and never run out of material. When writing the first season, I was particularly inspired by the aesthetics of Victorian crime serials and “penny dreadfuls,” which were mass-produced crime and horror stories. Published in installments, these tales were often melodramatic and ridiculous. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which was a huge inspiration stylistically for The Coroner’s Assistant, originated as a penny dreadful story.

Of course, even though I took cues from other sources, The Coroner’s Assistant has its own weird kind of humor and style.


Being nominated for Best Writing in a Streaming Comedy Series puts you in the company of some esteemed writing teams. How do you think ‘The Coroner’s Assistant’ stands out in terms of storytelling?


I wrote the first season of The Coroner’s Assistant when I was twenty-two. I wanted to prove that I could write an episodic narrative without a writer’s room. But the writing doesn’t mean anything unless the right people bring the words and characters to life.

The beautiful thing about film to me is that the piece is always changing and developing into its full potential, from the first drafts of the scripts through post-production. The story was one thing when it existed just for me in my mind, then on the page. But the story is so much richer because of the talent who brought the characters to life, because of the DP’s vision, and because of the editing. The people behind The Coroner’s Assistant are real artists with a deep love for their crafts. None of us had studio heads pressuring us to do things a certain way, or the expectation to meet box office demands or audience watch goals. Our motive was just to do the best with what we had. I think that all shines through when you watch the series.

 

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Your Costume Designer, Aimee Morgan, is also recognized with a Creative Arts Nomination for Best Period Costumes. Can you tell us about the collaboration between you and Aimee in bringing the visual elements of the series to life?


When I decided to make “The Coroner’s Assistant” I had no idea how I was going to get appropriate costumes, I just sort of trusted that somehow I would. I put an ad in NeOhioPAL (the Northeast Ohio Performing Arts League email subscription service) seeking a late Victorian-era policeman’s uniform. Aimee saw the ad and reached out to me with photos of just what I was looking for, and asked if I had a costume designer. I said no, and she asked if I wanted one — because she wanted to be it. Of course, I said yes.

I’d made a collection of Pinterest boards for the show while writing, including one for each character. That was a jumping point for Aimee to understand each character’s style. After she read the scripts, we discussed how each character’s personality, class, and perspective would influence how they presented themselves. We also wanted to stay within certain color palettes. I wanted to see lots of dark, murky colors like deep purple, dark greys, and black, highlighted with some brighter tones to balance everything. The show’s logo (created by Melissa Goodwill) is dark purple with tarnished gold. I wanted the visuals in the show to reflect that as often as possible.


A big part of the process though was trusting Aimee and her expertise. Aimee has costumed theatre productions in Chicago and runs a business where she takes commissions for historical costume pieces. Her knowledge of fashion history shows in the detail she puts into each character’s wardrobe.


As a writer and filmmaker based in Cleveland, Ohio, what challenges and advantages did you face shooting ‘The Coroner’s Assistant’ entirely in Cleveland, especially considering its unique setting in Victorian London?


Cleveland is a wonderful mock Victorian London. There are a lot of post-industrial landscapes and overcast weather. We have a lot of old, worn buildings for backdrops.

The challenge with exteriors is that even if there’s a location that works well for a scene aesthetically, the world surrounding it is still contemporary. There’s traffic, noise, modern electrical lighting, etc. We were not a large enough production to shut down streets or block off traffic. So much of what we shot outdoors was staple guerilla filmmaking. We shot a scene where Thomas, the antagonist, bludgeons another character with a shovel in an alley in downtown Cleveland at night. It was a real shovel we were using, and we had to have someone on the lookout for police so we wouldn’t be interrogated. The whole place surrounding the area we were in was dimly lit by modern streetlights, and if we shot from the opposite angle the Cleveland State University sign was in the way — that was annoying. Another outdoor night scene was shot on a side street outside Erie Street Cemetery, which is right by Progressive Field, so getting clean audio was extra difficult.


The interiors were much more controlled environments. The Hickories House Museum in Elyria, where we shot most of the interiors, allowed us set decorate as we wished. We just weren’t allowed to sit in any of the antique chairs or sofas (so we had to get our own for the scenes in which they were needed). The room in Oliver’s house with the fireplace was almost entirely dressed with our props — the books on the bookshelves were some of the only items owned by the museum.


It also happened that instead of an open doorway or a door that led to the tiny adjoining room, there was a curtain. The curtain — which all the characters enter and exit through at some point — became an unintended symbol of the show in my mind. It’s weirdly theatrical, like the show itself. It fits the mood of everything so perfectly.


Your project had an all-female creative team, including Executive Producer Giorgiana Lascu. How did this dynamic contribute to the overall production, and do you think it brought a unique perspective to ‘The Coroner’s Assistant’?


There was a reversal of roles in making “The Coroner’s Assistant” that’s atypical of filmmaking: we had a mostly male cast and a mostly female crew, and all of us in leadership positions were women. Georgie (Giorgiana Lascu), Dagna, and I are very close. We spent a lot of time on Dagna’s couch, eating chips and hummus as we discussed how we were going to shoot scenes. We have fun while working hard.


I do feel like having women in leadership on set made for a more open, collaborative environment. When you get rid of the pretentious machismo that’s an undercurrent on so many film sets (even indie ones), there’s a lot more room for trial and error without judgment. I think we all became better artists and better communicators.


This isn’t to say that the process of making The Coroner’s Assistant was easy or stress-free. There were shoots where we were overtired and there were some disagreements, but they never overshadowed the common goal or the passion we shared for what we did. Georgie said once that when it comes to the three of us working together, she’s the heart, I’m the brains, and Dagna is the eyes. A project needs all its parts working in tandem to create something extraordinary.


The awards ceremony is approaching on January 8, 2024. What are your expectations for the event, and how do you plan to celebrate, regardless of the outcome?


I’m just happy to be able to be in the room. I’ll be attending the event with Georgie, who is not only my creative partner but also one of my best friends. Cedric (Gegel, who plays James Rigby) will be flying in from New York, and Jeremy (Gladen, who plays Thomas) lives in LA so it will be a lot of fun for all of us to be together. I’m fortunate to have such a wonderful team of dedicated artists by my side for the occasion. That’s winning for me.



More About The Coroner’s Assistant and Angeline Walsh:


Double-nominee, independent TV Web Series The Coroner’s Assistant stands apart from Hollywood establishment at January’s ‘The Astra Awards’


Writer Angeline Walsh is heading to Hollywood next month nominated twice for her Independent TV Web Series The Coroner’s Assistant platformed on YouTube. The Hollywood Creative Alliance (HCA, fka Hollywood Critics Association) announced nominees back in July, but due to the Hollywood strike, the awards ceremony was moved to January 2024. HCA recently announced that all of its awards under their umbrella will now be known as ‘The Astra Awards.’


Angeline Walsh, who wrote and directed the original series, is a contender for Best Writing in a Streaming Comedy Series, while her Costume Designer Aimee Morgan is a contender for a Creative Arts Nomination for Best Period Costumes. Walsh is in the same category with the writing teams from Only Murders in the Building, Poker Face, Shrinking, The Bear, The Great, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.


The Coroner’s Assistant is a dark comedy that follows the misadventures of James Rigby, a medical student who finds himself entangled in Victorian London’s cadaver trade. The TV Web Series was led by an all female creative team including Executive Producer Giorgiana Lascu, who was instrumental in getting this project funded and produced. The Coroner’s Assistant was entirely shot in Cleveland, Ohio and is the only independent and self distributed series from YouTube to be nominated in the streaming category.


About Nominee Angeline Walsh: Angeline (pronounced like “Caroline”) is a writer and filmmaker based in Cleveland, Ohio. She’s the author of several books, including the Gothic-inspired young adult novel “Memento Mortale.” She traces her dark humor back to visiting too many catacombs as a child.


About The Awards Ceremony: ‘The Astra Awards’ ceremony will take place January 8, 2024, in Los Angeles, California at the The Biltmore Los Angeles Hotel where the winners will be announced.


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TAMMY REESE


Tammy Reese began her career as a theater actress performing in 60 live stage shows a year with The Media Unit TV and Stage Production Company. She also directed the weekly live TV show Rough Times Live.


Eventually, she went to Empire State College to obtain her degree in media studies. After graduation, she did more theater and wrote and produced her own videos to spread awareness on social issues through the arts.


Tammy is an award-winning journalist and is best known for her legendary interviews with Sharon Stone, Angela Bassett, Sigourney Weaver, Phylicia Rashad, Billy Porter, Luke Evans, Geena Davis, Morris Chestnut, Amerie, Nelly, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Leon, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Giancarlo Esposito, Meagan Good, Jennifer Connelly, Laurence Fishburne, Vivica A. Fox, Omar Epps, Joseph Sikora, Ryan Coogler, Carmen Electra, Tom Arnold, Donell Jones, La La Anthony and many more.


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Jan 23

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