We spoke with Kate Krantz, the executive producer of Facebook Watch, and Crypt TV’s new horror series, The Birch, about what to expect from the show!
If you’re familiar with Crypt TV, the company known for bringing original and fantastical scary stories to life, then you might have also heard of The Birch. The monster originated in a horror short that debuted on Facebook a few years ago.
It was well-received by fans who have shown an outpouring of love to the film and the Crypt TV community. Now, Crypt TV and Facebook Watch are collaborating to bring The Birch to life in a new long-form television series format.
The new show will star Midori Francis (Good Boys), Xaria Dotson (American Vandal), and Dempsey Byrk (Black Mirror), in a tense and horrific story based on multiple character perspectives. Each character will find out what happens when the creature known as the Birch is summoned, for better or for worse.
We had the chance to speak with Crypt TV’s Chief Content Officer and executive producer of the upcoming Facebook horror series, Kate Krantz! She tells us about what we can anticipate from The Birch and how fans have had a monumental impact on breathing new life into this story.
1428 Elm: The show is right around the corner now, how are you feeling ahead of the premiere?
Kate Krantz: I’m so excited! We’ve been living and breathing this. To finally be able to show the world what we’ve been living in for the past year feels pretty good!
1428 Elm: How did you guys come up with the idea to turn this particular short into a long-form TV show?
KK: Our partners at Facebook were amazing on the development side. The cool thing about releasing the short and seeing the community in advance is that we could pull from the audience a sense of what they were emotionally connecting with.
She’s a monster with a moral compass.
That is how we fleshed out the multiple perspectives and general archetypes before we brought in writers to pitch on the show. It was a foundation we built purely from audience response.
1428 Elm: The Birch is a compelling creature because you don’t know what her motives are. Did you guys think about that when you were crafting her? Did you want her reasons to be ambiguous?
KK: I think what is so exciting about her is exactly what you’re picking up. She’s a monster with a moral compass. There is a good protective side and a dark predator side. We’re exploring both of those in the series. It really is about how the individual who is othered or bullied is engaging with her. We like that this isn’t a purely evil villainess character. There is some heart to her.
1428 Elm: It makes for a more interesting story, for sure. Speaking of the characters, what made you guys decide to tell the story from three different perspectives?
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KK: We wanted to tackle a few different things. First, we wanted to honor the request for a deeper level of mythology on The Birch. We wanted to do that in a way that felt innovative and organic. This structure lent itself to that. A big part of Crypt is how we present our characters.
The monster universe that we’re building is empowering. The human characters inside of these narratives are living thoroughly in these grey areas.
Every blip we make has a ripple effect, sometimes that’s positive, and sometimes it’s negative. We wanted to delve into the complexities and do so in a way that was easily digestible for the consumer.
1428 Elm: Why do you believe Facebook Watch is the right fit for The Birch?
KK: It was a perfect marriage for us because The Birch originally came out on Facebook. We are a company that was truly launched on Facebook. Facebook Video was just coming out when Crypt was founded. We made that choice because this platform is uniquely centered around building community.
Genre content, character-focused IP in particular, that kind of fandom and unity is based on communally shared experiences and that deep fandom that can be seeded uniquely on Facebook and Facebook Watch. We were able to build this relationship in the shorthand with fans of the original short this series is based on and continue to include them throughout the entire process.
So, for us, it was a no brainer. To collaborate with a company like Facebook and the creative team over there with such a forward-thinking and fan-first sensibility in how they develop content was a gift. It has made this project something we’re unbelievably proud of.
1428 Elm: I was really impressed with the acting on this show too. Was it easy for you guys to find your cast?
KK: Thank you! I think the actors are so amazing. I watch it, and I’m so thrilled for them. I hope they feel justice when they see it. We found Evie (Xaria Dotson) first. We went to Portland, where we shot this, and we were pretty sure we already found our girl in LA who was a fantastic actor and more classically trained. Then Xaria walked into the room. She was the last person we saw.
We were about to leave, and she said two words, and the director and I looked at each other, and we were like, “Oh my god, it’s Evie.” There was something about her that was so compelling and so dynamic that it was undeniable. It was the same thing with Dempsey [Dempsey Byrk, who plays Thurston].
As soon as we saw the tape, we knew these were our stars. There was no question. They continue to deliver through the whole process. Seeing these young actors take to such sensitive material so beautifully and so respectfully was a gift. It gave us something so authentic we think the fans will love.
1428 Elm: I think the audience will connect with them and with the story. I think some of the best horror taps into things deeply tethered to humanity. Along the lines of the horror, I was impressed with how genuinely scary and disturbing some of the scenes were.
KK: Thank you! We wanted to honor the original, and the original creature creator for the short advised on this new build. We worked with Alchemy, the best of the best in Los Angeles, and this team was a dream team in bringing it to life. I think that input and Cliff Wallace’s input made all the difference.
1428 Elm: What do you ultimately want fans to take away from The Birch?
KK: I hope they feel that it is made for them. I hope they feel ownership over it. We, at Crypt TV, release these fantastic new original characters that exist in a shared universe. It is 100% up to the fans if we continue those stories, or we look in a new direction.
I’m unbelievably proud of the team involved. The team made magic happen in an incredibly condensed period. We have a brilliant young audience. Their emotional vulnerability and how they comment and interact with this content is inspired, and I hope they feel respected by what we’ve given to them.
1428 Elm: It’s nice to see horror aimed at younger audiences. I can’t wait to see the rest of the series. I hope it performs well for you guys! Thanks so much for chatting with us!
KK: Thank you so much!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The Birch premieres exclusively on Facebook Watch beginning on October 11.