As teenagers make the unpredictable and frequently uncomfortable transition from adolescence to adulthood, the problems they deal with (love, peer pressure, money, parental disagreements) are just as significant as the small yet growing amount of freedoms they earn (driving privileges, buying power, independent decision making, freedom of choice in all facets of life).

Now consider how complicated – and interesting – life would be for a teenager if he or she had  unbelievable magical powers. It’s a situation that one young woman tries to make sense of while getting in over her head along the way in the tenth web series production from writer/director Seth Chitwood’s production company Angelwood Pictures, Luna, The Witch.

Co-starring real life mother and daughter actors Wendy Hartman (Family Problems) and Alexa Hartman (The Girl in the Attic) in their first shared billing, Luna, The Witch centers around a budding witch (played by Alexa in the title role) whose eagerness to use her as-yet undeveloped skills to win the affection of her crush, Bryan (Charlie Tacker, The Witch In The Window) leads to disaster.

From there, it’s up to Luna’s more experienced witch mom Bianca (played by Wendy) and Luna’s great-great-great grandmother/witch Francine (Family Problems‘ Karen Ann Martino) to recover both Luna’s vanished love, and to help the magician-in-training understand what can happen when magic is used irresponsibly.

Alexa Hartman stars as the titular witch-in-training in Seth Chitwood's new series LUNA, THE WITCH.

Alexa Hartman stars as the titular witch-in-training in Seth Chitwood’s new series LUNA, THE WITCH.

The first 3 episodes of Luna, The Witch can be seen on Angelwood Pictures’ official web site (linked to below), and its last 4 episodes will debut on November 30th.

Originally based on a portion of an idea first used by Chitwood for a short film he produced while as a first-year fellow at the AFI (American Film Institute) Conservatory, Luna, The Witch is Chitwood’s first web series about the often dark yet intriguing world of witchcraft.

“Each fellow has to complete three short films — referred to as Cycle Films. My second cycle film was about a witch who wants her mortal boyfriend to have the courage to propose to her. So she secretly gives him a courage potion which leads him to have the courage to break up with her instead. The short film will forever remain in the AFI Conservatory vault, but I really liked that idea so I used it as a small part of the story for Luna, The Witch.”

As a subject, Chitwood views magic as both an object of fascination and a means of defining the talents that have made him a success in filmmaking. “Magical powers have always been a metaphor to me,” says Chitwood. “I’ve always interpreted magic to be the unique ability that one has. (My abilities are) screenwriting and the ability to tell stories for people to see!”

In his youth, Chitwood enjoyed similar witch-themed favorites like Disney’s Bette Midler-led classic Hocus Pocus and the 1998 Sandra Bullock/Nicole Kidman film Practical Magic, along with popular TV shows like Sabrina, The Teenage Witch and Charmed. Though much of Chitwood’s past and present Angelwood series (Family Problems, Testing: The Series, In The Bedroom) have clearly been tilted towards adult viewers, the family-friendly nature and light mood of Luna, The Witch make for a rewarding change of pace for the veteran filmmaker.

“With everything going on in the world, I just couldn’t do something dark,” explains Chitwood. “I’ve always wanted to do something in the ‘teenage space’. Luna, The Witch is my first series meant for that audience. I wanted to challenge myself to stay in the PG realm and create a show that the entire family can watch together.”

L-R: Real life mother and daughter acting duo Wendy and Alexa Hamilton co-star in LUNA, THE WITCH. Wendy plays Bianca, a more experienced witch who's trying to help her daughter Luna (Alexa) understand the power and dangers of magic.

L-R: Real life mother and daughter acting duo Wendy and Alexa Hamilton co-star in LUNA, THE WITCH. Wendy plays Bianca, a more experienced witch who’s trying to help her daughter Luna (Alexa) understand the power and dangers of magic.

While the “love potion gone wrong” part of Luna‘s storyline is tremendously appropriate for a year that’s been as turbulent as any experienced by humankind, the series preaches the timeless importance of embracing one’s own abilities.

“We all have different inner powers that help us through life,” Chitwood explains. “That is kind of what the show is about: Luna using her gift to discover her identity and figure out her place in the world.”

Compared to other beloved movies and series about witches, the strongest part of Luna, The Witch is its focus on the indelible relationship shared by a parent and child.

Luna, The Witch is different because out of all these stories, many of them do not feature a strong bond between a daughter and a mother,” notes Chitwood. “It’s a coming-of-age story about a daughter who wants to be as good as her mom. She wants to make her proud while discovering her own identity. (That’s) a common theme a lot of teenagers face.”

The performances of Wendy and Alexa Hartman in Luna, The Witch make the show’s portrayal of that bond even more authentic. Observing the ease with which the Hartmans approached playing their respective characters in the series, Chitwood feels that the pair’s professional brilliance and personal rapport elevated what would have been merely a good production environment into an amazing atmosphere.

“Wendy and Alexa are super talented. They’ve also been through a lot together these past few years. They have a very special bond and probably one of the closest mother/daughter relationships that I’ve observed,” recalls Chitwood. “That’s what made writing this show so much fun. Not only do they look like they are related but they’ve been preparing for this their entire lives. So we got to skip that awkward ‘we just met yesterday at the table read’ moment on set.”

The durability of the Hartmans’ acting partnership was evident every time they got to work on the set of Luna, The Witch. “I knew they could tackle anything that I threw at them,” Chitwood replies. “Their characters are similar to them but just pushed a little bit to the left. It was easy for them to quickly find their footing within Luna and Bianca, and they love to challenge themselves as well as each other to be the best they can be.”

Charlie Tacker plays Bryan, the boy Luna (Alexa Hartman) tries to lure through her undeveloped magic skills in LUNA, THE WITCH.

Charlie Tacker plays Bryan, the boy Luna (Alexa Hartman) tries to woo through her undeveloped magic skills in LUNA, THE WITCH.

While the Hartmans, Tacker and Martino have appeared in various other Angelwood productions, all four actors are co-starring together on the same series for the first time in Luna, The Witch. Won over by the reliability they’ve demonstrated in working with Chitwood on shows like Testing: The Series, Family Problems and The Girl In The Attic, he immediately looked to them to headline the cast of Luna, The Witch.

“I love working with Wendy, Karen, and Alexa. They are definitely in my top ten ‘go-to’ actors because not only are they so professional, but we all understand each other,” Chitwood adds. “I never have to worry about them while on set. I know what I’m getting and how to easily direct them. Same for Charlie Tacker (who played Bryan). I worked with him on In The Bedroom and Family Problems. I knew I needed a cast that I could trust…I was very confident that they would get the job done, and they did.”

Strictly observing social distancing protocols during Luna‘s four day shoot, the series’ meager cast and crew – four actors and ten craftspeople, including Chitwood’s longtime cinematographer Seng2KX – magnificently captured the extraordinary adventures of a multi-generational family of witches on the set. In post-production, special visual effects illustrated the wonder and volatility of the magic powers shared by Luna’s three female characters.

Yet while neither Chitwood nor his creative cohorts had ever planned to make Luna in a world where they also had to stay safe amid the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, their work was nonetheless dictated by the need to stay six feet apart while fully masked up. In fact, one scene that would have otherwise shown an unforgettable teenage rite of romantic passage had to be stricken because the risks of inadvertently infecting Luna‘s two young actors were too high.

“I didn’t want COVID-19 to be part of any of the narrative, but still, we couldn’t do anything that put our actors in any danger,” remembers Chitwood. “For example, we had discussed a scene featuring a kiss that was ultimately cut due to the high-risk of spreading the virus. However, because Wendy and Alexa are (a) real-life mother/daughter (pair), we didn’t have to worry too much about scenes with them together, as they live together full time.”

Karen Ann Martino (FAMILY PROBLEMS) portrays Luna's great-great-great grandmother/witch, Francine.

Karen Ann Martino (FAMILY PROBLEMS) portrays Luna’s great-great-great grandmother/witch, Francine.

Thanks to Luna‘s certification by Safe Sets International (an organization that offers resources and assistance for filmmakers who seek to shoot their projects safely within social distancing regulations), the show’s production and its adherence to social distancing guidelines resulted in no positive COVID-19 diagnoses for its actors and crew members.

Luna‘s filming process was a successful venture that Chitwood hopes other indie filmmakers can learn from as an even more deadly second wave of the coronavirus strikes during the Winter season.

“We had to be as safe as possible not only for our own safety, but so that film sets like ours could follow. The minute an indie set has an ‘outbreak’, that’ll be it. We have to be a role model for others in our community on how to do it right in this COVID-19 world. We wore masks the entire time. The actors only removed their masks right before we called “action” and then put them back on after we called “cut.”, and we socially distanced every opportunity we had.”

With Chitwood in early talks to bring Luna, The Witch to more audiences on a highly-viewed streaming service, and with the series’ latest festival appearance coming at this December’s  Sydney Web Fest, the series’ creator stresses that Luna‘s greatest power comes not from its fabulous display of supernatural witchery but from its tributes to the strength shared by a loving family and the can-do attitude of women amid even the most extraordinary crises.

“(Luna, The Witch) is a family show,” says Chitwood. “We have an eight-year-old who is our number one fan! I think anyone would like it. If you like witches or the ‘magical world’, you’ll love our show, but even if you don’t, the story is about three strong and empowered women working together to solve a problem.”

NOTE: All episodes of Luna, The Witch are subtitled in English.

Watch season 1 of Luna, The Witch on Angelwood Pictures’ official web site: