Alumni’s hit web series a modern take on Jane Austen novel

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A cast and crew made up of primarily BYU graduates has created the web series “The Cate Morland Chronicles,” a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey.” The creators hope to inspire women with a show about, and run by, women.

“Northanger Abbey” was published after Jane Austen’s death and is viewed by many as her most juvenile work, according to Ellen Lloyd. Lloyd is an English literature graduate and screenwriter for “The Cate Morland Chronicles.”

However, Lloyd says she identified with Catherine Morland, the main character of “Northanger Abbey,” so she was excited to write the screenplay.

“(Catherine is an) avid reader, who kind of sometimes takes the world from her fictional books and places it on real life,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd even wrote herself, producer Chelsey Saatkamp and director Amanda Taylor into the story.

Cate Morland, played by Madeline Thatcher, interviews Henry Tilney, played by Dele Opeifa, in episode five of “The Cate Morland Chronicles.” Morland has a huge, fangirl crush on Tilney in the series. (Chelsey Saatkamp)

In the series, Cate falls for Henry Tilney, a television star she admired as a fan. Taylor, a BYU journalism graduate, said she experienced this when she interned for Entertainment Weekly in Los Angeles.

Taylor met an actor from “Falling Skies” and spent time with him, which she said was a big deal for her.

“Just trying to navigate that and play it cool … while at the same time being like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have such a big crush on your character and that’s your face’ is just a very weird and surreal experience,” Taylor said.

The character Cate Morland is a college graduate in journalism and works for Personaa large celebrity magazine. Lloyd describes her as a naive fish out of water and a fangirl of Harry Potter, superheroes and “Dr. Who.”

BYU public relations graduate Saatkamp explained the fans of “The Cate Morland Chronicles” feel they can relate to Cate and have a voice in this series.

“We really go to bat for the nerdy girls … We don’t really see this kind of representation in media,” Saatkamp said.

BYU English literature graduate Madeline Thatcher plays Cate. Like Taylor and Lloyd, she feels she can relate to the character because she labels herself as a nerd and fangirl. She loves that Cate represents female fandom culture in a positive way.

“I think giving love to nerdy girls is important,” Thatcher said.

The crew is almost entirely made up of women, with the exception of one assistant director, according to Lloyd. She said they wanted to have an all-woman cast, but they had to find some men for the web series.

Lloyd said series like “The Cate Morland Chronicles” show women can produce shows just as well as men can.

“I think that there is a lot of things that get said about, like, ‘Oh get a group of women together and they can’t work well together,'” Lloyd said. “Uh, yeah we can.”

Taylor said she and Saatkamp, as well as other members of the cast and crew, want to next make a Harry Potter fan fiction, possibly based on students Lily and James Potter.

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