Building a witch's world takes its own magic

Whether she's questioning her allegiance to the Dark Lord or casting spells on football players, Sabrina the teenage witch is immersed in a world that Lanark County resident Lisa Soper helped bring to life.

Lanark County's Lisa Soper production designer behind Netflix's new Sabrina show

Season 1 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, starring Kiernan Shipka, left, and Ross Lynch, right, is currently streaming on Netflix. The statue of goat god Baphomet, pictured above, is now the subject of a potential lawsuit. (Netflix/Warner Bros.)

Whether she's questioning her allegiance to the Dark Lord or casting spells on football players, Sabrina the teenage witch is steeped in a magical world that Lisa Soper helped bring to life.

Soper, originally from Lanark County, is the production designer for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Netflix's dark recasting of the Archie comic spinoff.

Soper has been working on the show since the beginning, starting with a blank slate on a Vancouver sound stage.   

"I walked in here in December in a massive, vast, open space with nothing around me but imagination," she told CBC's All In A Day

Creating the 'illusion of life' 

Soper said it's been an incredible opportunity to bring her own talents and ideas to the show, which draws on folklore and myth, and credits her training in the animation program at Algonquin College.

In the show, where Sabrina often finds herself in tight spaces, running from villains, attention to detail is key, Soper said.

"We want every single item that is in there ... to tell this story and to help enhance and support what our characters are trying to say. You are creating the illusion of life. That's what we have been doing here."

Pagan descriptions 

Soper, who describes herself as a practising pagan, said her sets, which are rich with religious symbolism, aren't meant to portray any specific faith.

"We pick and choose what we want, because we are making a fantasy," she said. 

Soper admits to bristling at some of the show's portrayals of paganism, until she reminds herself it's all fiction. 

"We are not doing who I am, as what I believe or what I practise, but what I can do is bring some of the elements that I think are relevant."

Satanic suit 

The Satanic Temple, a religious organization, has threatened legal action against the show over a sculpture of the goat god Baphomet that appears in the corridor of Sabrina's witchcraft shcool, claiming the image is under copyright.

Soper said just like Catholic schools have statues of Jesus and Mary, the designers reasoned the Baphomet statue made sense in the context of a show about witches.

"When we put together the school there was an idea to put together an iconic image that worked for them," she said.

Soper said she still thinks fondly of her roots in the Ottawa area, and said she'd return for the right opportunity.

"It is not about the budget size. I think what it is for me is the story. If it brings me back to Ottawa, I would be there in a heartbeat."