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Popular YouTube series filmed and produced in North County 

Mermaid Miracles Atascadero

From left, Ashley Hannon and Maya Tritt, the writers and creative team for “Mermaid Miracles,” stand next to a Mermaid Miracles surfboard in their Atascadero home and studio. Photo by Heather Young

Local teenagers star in ‘Mermaid Miracles’

When Atascadero teen Maya Tritt was 10, she created “Mermaid Miracles,” a YouTube series, as a home school project.

“I thought I just wanted to make a video,” Tritt said. So she did. While on vacation in Hawaii, she made short video, which then led to “Mermaid Miracles.” She said she wasn’t expecting the response that she got to the YouTube series.

“Surprisingly, we had a larger fan-base than we ever expected,” Tritt said.

Currently, “Mermaid Miracles” has more than 61,000 subscribers and more than 15 million views on YouTube between its three seasons of episodes, the first two with 11 episodes each. The series received the “Best Film Series” award from the Happy Homeschoolers of Puerto Rico. Tritt, who turned 13 years old on Friday, writes the scripts and makes creative decisions with her 21-year-old cousin Ashley Hannon.

James Wills, an eighth-grader at Templeton Middle School, joined the "Mermaid Miracles" cast  in a supporting role in November 2014. Photo by Heather Young

James Wills, an eighth-grader at Templeton Middle School, joined the “Mermaid Miracles” cast in a supporting role in November 2014. Photo by Heather Young

“Ever since I was 6 years old, I always loved mermaids and the ocean,” Tritt said. “A few years later when I was 10, I thought ‘why not actually make this?’ I had the idea in my head for a long time and thought it could help influence kids to clean up the ocean and bring awareness to mermaids. I’ve always been really drawn to water — I’d build a coral seaweed home underwater if I could — because it feels really safe and makes me feel at home.”

The series is filmed in Atascadero and Montana de Oro over a Saturday and Sunday once a month with one episode between 10 and 15 minutes released each month. The first season launched on Jan. 9, 2013, the third season began this month. Each episode is filmed over a weekend with director Vicente Cordero and his crew traveling from L.A.

“We only planned on making one season,” Tritt said, buy added that after the first season they partnered with Cordero, who is from San Luis Obispo, but currently lived in Los Angeles. Cordero, they said, gives the girls a lot more creative freedom and brought a more professional camera and crew to the table. Both Tritt and Hannon said they expect the series to continue for a total of five to seven seasons and they plan to create more series. “Our dream with the show is to inspire others. We have always loved mermaids and the ocean. The show isn’t just about mermaids, but [also] other mythical creatures.”

The duo said they work mostly with family and friends, though they have started to branch out and the first actor they interviewed for the show was 14-year-old James “Jamie” Wills, an eighth grader at Templeton Middle School. Wills plays a wizard that came from a different dimension that had been destroyed by some kind of monster. His first episode was season two, episode 9. So far, he has been in four episodes, filming the first episode he was in the weekend after Thanksgiving in 2014.

“Jamie is a natural actor,” said Tritt’s mom, Inga Tritt, who owns Original Sprout, a vegan and organic skin care line. “He was so so good. It didn’t take him much effort.”

Wills had done some acting in school plays and has taken some acting classes. He heard about the show from mutual friends and contacted Tritt and Hannon.

“It’s really professional,” Wills said, who lives in Cambria and runs through his lines during his daily commute with his mom, Jennifer Smith, the executive director of the Paso Robles Children’s Museum. In addition to school and “Mermaid Miracles,” Wills also plays roller hockey in San Luis Obispo.

The show has partnered with Disney Maker Studios, which helps with financing, scheduling and gives tips to Tritt and Hannon.

“We’re able to get the show out more often because [Disney Maker Studios],” Tritt said.

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