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Julie Plec on big change in Peacock's 'Vampire Academy': 'Nobody likes their books to be messed with'
If you think house hunting is hard, wait until you have to find an ancient palace.
By Julie Montana
When Vampire Academy book fans found out the location of St Vladimir’s Academy would be changed from the deep Montana woods to a picturesque town in Spain for the live action adaptation currently streaming on Peacock, they were admittedly a bit skeptical.
As producer Julie Plec put it herself at a fan meetup at New York Comic Con (NYCC) on Thursday attended by SYFY WIRE, “nobody likes their books to be messed with.” But it turns out that Olite, Spain wasn’t just any random spot chosen to get out of the woods — it was the perfect mix of history, beauty, and proximity.
Traveling in the book world is understandably a lot easier than doing it on screen. Characters moving between the Royal Court in the Poconos and the aforementioned Montana woods in the book might just take a page flip or two. The thing about adaptations though, is that constant travel is “much less fun than if everything was in the same place,” Plec explained. Plec added that moving “all the big events and interacting with the queen, and experiencing all the palace intrigue” in one location actually helped make the show feel bigger.
You can check out some shots of the castle in the trailer below:
So, when the studio said she’d have to go on a scouting trip to find the perfect scholarly estate and ancient castle combo, Julie Plec was more than game. “I need to go to Europe? For work? Okay!” At first, the crew swore they found their perfect location in the misty Scottish highlands, “that’s where you go when you need castles!” But some helpful advice from a friend over at Shondaland productions pushed the crew in a warmer direction: Spain.
Enter Olite - a picturesque ancient town with all the modern trappings necessary for a film crew (namely, electricity). Nestled in the Spanish countryside, the Royal Palace of Olite (where the king used to keep giraffes and lions as pets, for real) is a sprawling gothic castle with tons of towers to climb, rooms to explore, and views to take in. While scouting out the halls, they knew they had found their royal court. But then came the next question: Where to put the Academy?
In a moment of pure filmmaking luck, Plec explained the show's line producer pointed out a window towards a smaller building about a “football field away” from the palace gate. The building turned out to be an old monastery that was already equipped with larger class rooms, library spaces, and living quarters — and it was also for sale.
They inked some contracts, got production crews in place, and just like that, the “entire world [of Vampire Academy was] built, none of it VFX or stitched together.”
Looking for more vampire action? Check out SYFY's Reginald the Vampire, airing new episodes Wednesday nights on SYFY.