There's a riveting, impactful and action-packed new version of the Robin Hood legend coming to screens next month with the upcoming series, Robyn Hood, created by the infamous Director X.
Fans at Toronto's Fan Expo Canada got an advanced screening of the Global and Stack TV show's first episode, set to premiere on Sept. 27.
The first episode alone is one of the most fast-paced, emotional and comprehensive premieres you'll watch.
Robyn Hood stars Jessye Romeo as Robyn Loxley. She's part of the The Hood, a masked hip-hop group that makes viral videos online.
But as housing prices continue to skyrocket, Robyn's working-class community — including her mother — is incredibly concerned about the widening gap with the rich in New Nottingham. They're particularly against a rich developer, John Prince (Ian Matthews), who has the local sheriff tied around his finger. As tensions take a catastrophic turn, The Hood decides to fight back against the elite to support their community.
"I'm a real believer in coming out of the gate just fast and powerful, and just make sure you're hooking your audience," Toronto-based screenwriter Chris Roberts told Yahoo Canada about the show's powerful first episode. "You want to deliver those big story returns as much as you can.
"You want to get people excited. You want to get people invested in the characters and then make them just hooked on the show."
With creator Director X at the helm, the famed Canadian filmmaker who created some of the best music videos in history (including the video for Drake's "Hotline Bling"), that stylish visual storytelling is very much brought into Robyn Hood's visuals.
"We knew this was going to be a young adult show, we're moving very fast," Director X said. "Just even a level of production logistics, how fast we've got to move.
"But it definitely was not going to be a show [with] long, slow camera moves and slowly panning. We knew we weren't going to be doing that."
Moving away from stereotypes
Robyn Hood's cast praised both Director X and Roberts for their experience of collaboration on set.
"It was really cool because X and Chris, they gave us character profiles and they were really in depth," Toronto actor Nykeem Provo told Yahoo Canada. "You don't really get that with most projects.
"Then working with Chris, X and the writers, ... it's a collaborative effort. So they allowed us to play and we got to also improvise some lines and stuff like that. Like if something was working or wasn't working for us, they were super open to allowing us to play and find what worked, and I think for all of us, I think that was really cool."
That sense of freedom while on set resonated with other Robyn Hood actors, too.
"I didn't feel like I had to be word perfect and I think as an actor, it's always great when you have that kind of freedom, because you get to really embody your character and not stay so stuck to the lines," actor and model Idrissa Sanogo added. "You get to breathe it and that's pretty cool, when people give you that opportunity."
Toronto-based actor Ksenia Daniela Kharlamova also highlighted that when she read Robyn Hood's scripts, something that particularly stood out is how well-developed and non-stereotypical the full cast of characters are in the show.
"Once I started reading more of the scripts and especially when I auditioned, the characters were all so well-rounded and such individuals," Kharlamova said.
"They weren't stereotypes or ... just written there to forward the plot. They were all people who had interests and hopes and dreams, which I really enjoyed because you don't see that often. Especially with shorter series like we have."
Creating meaningful art
The story of Robin Hood always had political and social commentary, with the concept of stealing from the rich to give to the poor. In Robyn Hood, the series takes that notion and addresses very contemporary societal and political issues we see today.
"I'm a big believer in entertainment first, making sure the show is fun, making sure it's action-packed, drawing the audience in," Roberts said. "But I think for any piece of art to be truly meaningful and truly great, you have to be saying something with it.
"I think right now, this is the time for a show like this. ... People look around and they see the rich are getting pretty rich and the poor are getting pretty poor. Maybe it feels like we need to address that somehow. Maybe it feels like we need a new kind of hero, and to do that, we went back to the one of the oldest heroes, one of the most enduring legends of all time."
Director X added that there has been "some really great, strong storytelling," but there's always a correct balance within that art.
"I feel actually really blessed to come up and the type of sci-fi movies and comic books that we came in, where they could make a commentary but not beat you over the head with it," Director X said. "But at the same time, you were enjoying the visceral part of the whole thing.
"Now, a lot of entertainment leans a little too message-y and you see a lot of rejection of these things. So we went back to our roots and tried to make something that really speaks to that generation we're from."