2014 Toronto Screenwriting Conference

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Sue and I were fortunate enough to be able to cover the Toronto Screenwriting Conference last year (and learned tons to apply to our own creative writing) and were delighted to be invited back again this year to sit in on it again.

With the amazing guest line-up and the fact that everything we learned would directly impact our writing, Sue and I leaped at the chance, and it was incredibly worth it!!

Saturday, despite starting with some swirling snow coming down, I was eager to get my day underway so I hopped the transit, and hot-footed it to the Ted Ryerson School of Management.

Sue and I met up with Juli Strader, and caught up with her for a bit, sharing our excitement for the weekend, and what we were most looking forward to.

toy_story_three_ver11Things got underway just past 9:30, and within moments, my mind was blown, and in the space of 90 minutes, I took more notes, and learned more about telling stories, than I had ever done before. All thanks to Academy Award winner, for Little Miss Sunshine, Michael Arndt, who also wrote the screenplays for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Oblivion. With cap positioned just off kilter on his head, he looked like a writer, not entirely comfortable being in front of a large crowd, but once he started talking his passion brought him and the room to life, as he presented Toy Story 3: Mistakes Made, and Lessons Learned. He had been brought in to write the 3rd installment of the Pixar franchise, and upon its completion, made this presentation to be used in-house at the Disney titan.

It was simply amazing, keyboards, pencils, pens, were all making noise as each part of the presentation was duly noted, and people began thinking how these amazing revelations would and could affect their own stories.

I was simply gob-smacked, and just kept writing.

In the 2nd session of the day, Executives on Writing, gears were switched as reps from Shaw, Bell and Rogers – Tara Ellis, Trish Williams and Nataline Rodrigues, sat and answered questions about what they look for in a pitch, how they review them, how notes are given, and how to make your pitch stand-out from the rest.

While all of this was going on, my mind was starting to coalesce again from Arndt’s presentation, and I had a eureka moment as a story that I have been trying to break since the early 90s, finally gave me a way in thanks to the things I’d just learned. I sat there, an ear half-tuned to the discussion, flipping electronic pages from taking notes on the panel to making story notes, reversals, reveals, and how the moments I’d seen in my head fit together into a mosaic of a project I’ve always wanted to do.

Still awestruck at the end of the executive’s panel, and brain quickly reaching information overload, it was time for lunch, and a moment or two to allow your brain to reset.

But it didn’t last long!

After that, it was into Comedy Is A Funny Business, with series creators and show runners, Jeff Biederman (Spun Out), Katie Ford (Working the Engels) and Joseph Raso (Seed). There were a lot of laughs, and lots of experience - Katie worked on Family Ties, wrote Miss Congeniality, and both Jeff and Joseph have worked on a number of recognizable titles and series, they know they’re stuff!  They talked about working in the writers room, working to make sure the funny stays in, their vision for the series, the importance of a log line, and the all important pitch.

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We got a moment to catch up with Joseph after the panel, and introduced ourselves to him, which seemed fitting considering we’ve interviewed like 90% of his main cast – just got to get those youngsters into town!

Following this, was the last session for the day, and the other speaker I was really excited about hearing from. I settled into my seat to listen to In Conversation with David Webb Peoples and Janet Peoples. These two screenwriters write screenplays as a creative expression, like some people write poetry, and David was involved in the script and rewrite of one of my fave sci-fi films, Blade Runner, and wrote one of my favorite westerns, Unforgiven.

unforgiven_ver1_xlgHe and his wife, wrote the script for a film they felt didn’t really be remade, but threw themselves into it wholeheartedly and came out with the Terry Gilliam classic – 12 Monkeys.

They regaled us with stories from behind the scenes on those films, including the fact that Rutger Hauer added the ‘tears in rain’ line to the end of the “I’ve seen things…” speech his character Roy Batty gives in Blade Runner.

I was stunned to learn that he had originally written Unforgiven in the early 70s, and that Clint Eastwood had purchased it mid-80s but had no intention of directing or starring in it until he was older. But when he did shoot and release the film in 1992, he hadn’t changed the script at all!!

He also spoke briefly about his involvement with Ladyhawke, a film he doesn’t think he should get credit for, and Soldier, which was a script he loved, but when he heard how production was messing with, never had any intention of seeing it.

It was a fascinating and honest look into a world of a professional screenwriter who has been involved with some of the most legendary films of the late 20th century!

Heading home at the end of the day, my brain was still trying to process and put together everything, but after dinner, my brain completely shut down and took me down into the realm of sleep.

The next morning, decidedly much more pleasant, weather-wise, than the previous, I headed in for the second day, stopping at Tim Horton’s for something to eat (those Panini breakfast sandwiches are really good!), Sue and I chatted for a moment with Lost Girl showrunner, Emily Andras before going into the session she was serving on the panel for – The Way of the Future: Writing Science Fiction for Television.

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Joining Emily on the panel was Cameron Porsandeh (Helix), Sam Egan (The Listener) and Alan McCullough (Stargate: SG1 and Sanctuary). For someone who loves a good sci-fi show, this panel was a must, and the trio, and their moderator, Denis McGrath (Continuum) talked about pitching the series (focus on your characters, not the hook) and how grounding the series in its own reality with firmly established rules (that can be bent, occasionally circumvented, but never broken) is key to establishing its voice, its vision, and if you’re lucky, the longevity of your series.  They shared stories about how each of their series are run, taking notes from the studio and network, fan interaction, story detail, and the idea of building an image of what the show is like week to week before introducing heavily serialized plots.

This is another session where I took a lot of notes, and Sue and I simply looked at each other gobsmacked as our brains hit overload again.

Following this, we had the Breakdown of the One-Hour Drama with a man who is going to know how to do it, Leonard Dick.

the-good-wife-posterLeonard has served as a writer and producer on some very huge shows… Lost, House M.D., The Mentalist, and is currently working on the incredibly succesful The Good Wife.

Fielding questions, and carrying on a fascinating dialogue with the moderator, Glenn Cockburn, he talked about the differences in writers’ rooms from show to show, how that works for the show, as well as talking about plotting character and season arcs, which again, changes according to the requirements of the show.

It was a fascinating look at the way shows come together behind the scenes, how plots can be shifted about to better serve the abilities of the season story, or availability of recurring and guest cast.

From there, lunch was called, and it allowed us to regroup before plunging into the two final sessions of the conference, one of which, the final one, I was really looking forward.

Anatomy of a Pilot put Eric Gilliland front and center. Gilliland  has served as a writer and producer on Roseanne and That 70s Show. He’s reviewing a pilot script he wrote, that reteams Roseanne Barr with John Goodman, called Downwardly Mobile. It was pitched, ordered by NBC and eventually shelved. He broke down the approach to the show, how the pilot had to be set up, how it would work, how it was pitched and the concept for the proposed series.

Very interesting.

But at this point I was chomping at the bit for the final installment, another presentation by Michael Arndt, the perfect way to close the conference… Endings: The Good, The Bad, and The Insanely Great. Michael broke down the internal, external and philosophical conflicts of three films. His own film, Little Miss Sunshine, The Graduate, and (YES!!) Star Wars. He showed how all the events of the final came to a 2 minute climax, and in that two-minute climax all three of those things need to be resolved to give you a completely euphoric and spectacularly good ending. And he went in to detail! I walked out with pages upon pages of notes, and once again, it helped me crack another part of the story I hadn’t been able to get into.

little_miss_sunshine_ver4_xlgI was stunned by the breakdown of Star Wars, in fact that classic film resolves its external, internal and philosophical conflicts in 22 seconds! It’s bang! Bang! BANG! And what a insanely great ending!!!

The applause that followed his presentation showed that I wasn’t the only one affected, or educated by what he had taught us this weekend, but I made my way to the front of the room, because I simply had to thank him for helping me to finally break this story in my head open.

“I just wanted to say thank you! You’ve helped me crack a story that I’ve been trying to figure out a way into for twenty years.”

“Wow,” he said. “Really?”

I nodded, “Yeah, thank you so much.”

“To hear that,” he continued, “makes me happy that I came!”

“Thanks again!” giving his hand a final shake, I wandered out, ambling towards home, with my mind completely overflowing with information, shattered by all the things I had learned this weekend, and marveling at the behind the scenes trials and tribulations that happen every day before a show even gets thought about being made.

It was stunning.

Now to plot out this story!!!

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2014 Toronto Screenwriting Conference

tsc2014The annual Toronto Screenwriting Conference is coming up next weekend (April 5 & 6), and I have to tell you, I am getting very excited for it.

Last year was the first time Sue Maynard and I had been to the event, and were intent on covering as much of it as we could, and through it learned a number of things to improve our own writing. We met, and heard some amazing people, and it was a simply, mind-boggling two days.

Well, looks like we’re going back again next weekend.

And I find myself getting very excited about who we’re going to see, what we’re going to learn, and the contacts we’re goig to make…

toy_story_three_ver11The two speakers I am most looking forward to are Michael Arndt, who is talking about Pixar, and has had his hand in the writing of Toy Story 3, Hunger Games: Catching Fire,Little Miss Sunshine and Oblivion. He has two talks that I am eager to cover, one is entitled  TOY STORY 3: MISTAKES MADE, LESSONS LEARNED, and the other is called ENDINGS: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE INSANELY GREAT.

The Toy Story 3 talk will go through early story reels, talk about the story breakdown, and how plot issues were resolved and worked through.

The Endings talk explores film closures, and how they impact the audience, and what makes them so good, bad, or great.

I also can’t wait to hear what David Webb Peoples has to say during his In Conversation with presentation. This is a screenwriter who has worked on and with the greats! He did a rewrite for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, and wrote Unforgiven, Ladyhawke and Twelve Monkeys! I’m looking forward to this one in a big way!

unforgiven_ver1_xlgJoseph Raso, the series creator and showrunner for Seed will be on hand for a chat as well, I’m looking forward to meeting him, as we’ve interviewed practically everyone else on his show, I’d love to say hi in person!

Finally, I’m eager to sit in on Cameron Porsandeh’s talk, Writing For Sci-Fi, something he knows about now with his first television series, Helix!

Leonard Dick will be there, talking about breaking down the one hour drama, something he has a lot of knowledge about considering his work on Lost, House, and The Good Wife.

And that is only the tip of the iceberg!

In fact we just found out that Lost Girl’s showrunner, Emily Andras will be on hand for a talk as well!!

I cannot wait to see the whole schedule listed so that I can get really excited!!!

You can check out the website and buy your tickets here!

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2014 Canadian Film Fest: The Privileged (Leah Walker) & My Old Man (Ryan M. Andrews)

cfflogoThe second screening this evening, starting at 9:15pm at the Royal Theatre is a pair of darker tales, the feature film, The Privileged is a dark thriller that sees a young couple put to the ultimate test, and Ryan M. Andrews’ macabre short, My Old Man, precedes it.

My Old Man sees Cleo (Adrian Cowan) hitting rock bottom in every aspect of her life. Returning to a familiar, but incredibly dark place, she examines her choices and life while engaged in a troubling conversation with an old, pale-looking man (Robert Nolan).

As he rails against the warnings and the terrors of the world, Cleo begins to come to an inescapable conclusion about the journey of her own life.

Andrews, a previous guest on our show, keeps the camera moving through the film, and puts his characters in a very dark place emotionally, and while we may not agree with the final decision, even if she seems pushed into it, we can understand it. But we’re left wondering how haunted this woman is, and what is her connection to the Old Man, and who he actually is. He’s different from the man in the pictures we’re shown… Hmmm.

THE_PRIVILEGED_POSTER_smaDirected by Leah Walker, The Privileged, the late screening’s feature, is a taut, psychological thriller wherein much of its emotional power lies just below the surface. Richard Hunter (Joshua Close) has a promising career going for him at a prestigious law firm, but one major mistake has all but cost him everything he’s worked for thus far. In a desperate bid to save his job, Richard and his wife, Tara (Lina Roessler of Lost Girl fame) decide to spend the weekend at the cottage of Preston Westwood (True Blood’s Sam Trammell), a senior partner in the law firm where Richard works. Preston and his beautiful wife, Julia (24′s Laura Harris), use their lavish lifestyle to seduce the wide-eyed young couple into the kind of weekend dreams are made of. This particular weekend, however, is about to turn into a nightmare for all involved, as secrets hidden just below the surface threaten to explode, and each character is forced to decide what’s most important to them, even as their very lives are put at risk.

Shot in the area of Sudbury, Ontario, the scenery in this film is gorgeous to look at, while also proving the perfect isolating backdrop for the events which are about to unfold. There is a palpable tension throughout every scene, even though the viewer is not always sure why it can be sensed. Genre fans will be delighted to see the bevy of familiar faces, from the 4 leads through to David Richmond-Peck as one of the local family members who are less than happy with how the Westwoods live their lives. Eventually, tensions rise, and everyone has to make a choice that will forever affect the rest of their lives.

Tickets are still available at the door of the Royal Theatre, get in there! And then let us know what you think.

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The Mind Reels Tackle the Canadian Screen Awards 2014

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Sue and I were elated to be able to take part in the Canadian Screen Awards festivities this week, including two galas and the broadcast event this past Sunday night at the Sony Centre. We wanted to tweet and post all night, and even had a plan to do all kinds of #legoselfies, but the night was just incredibly amazing on its own, and we simply held on for the ride!

We thought that perhaps the Social Media Lounge, which is the area we were allowed to be in, was in a sequestered room somewhere to tweet and Facebook our way through the broadcast as we made notes… Imagine our stunned surprise, to find ourselves right next to the Red Carpet.

Wow!

The entire dynamic of the evening changed immediately!

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We checked in shortly after 4pm, and caught up with Katie Chats, who has her own show on Smithee.TV, just like Sue and I, and we wandered down into what quickly became a bustling hive of activity. Press, magazine, webshows, tv hosts were all in abundance, prepping, reviewing nominees, getting final touch-ups.

Sue and I grabbed a table, and geared up for what we knew was going to be an evening of activity! We met and chatted with the brilliant folks at Touchwood PR, caught up with some familiar and new faces for us at the NFB, gabbed with the folks at Hello! Canada, and took in the surroundings.

Once again, people were focussed on reporting the winners, snapping pics of the stars, and asking who are you wearing, while Sue and I just marveled at the activity around us.

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And we were right here in the middle of it all!

As things got underway, before we knew exactly how cool everything was going to be, we did a couple of #legoselfies to set ourselves up for the evening…

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But as soon as people started making their entrances, everything became brilliantly, adrenaline-driving, organized chaos! I loved it!!

In quick order, the space alongside the carpet was filled with reporters and photogs, and we watched excitedly to see who we would see, as people kept arriving.

We saw our friend Adam Korson from City TV’s Seed…

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I was wandering back and forth along the walkway, and then Sue and I decided to do the best we could to break Twitter and blow up the internet by posting a couple of pics of Lost Girl’s Zoie Palmer, who was given the Fan Favorite Award.

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Things were getting really busy, there were rumored glimpses of Tatiana Maslany, and David Cronenberg, but we hadn’t seen either of them yet, but that didn’t stop us from prowling and constantly tweeting with #CDNScreen14. Everytime we walked by the screen featuring a running Twitter feed, I was gleefully excited to see our original tweets, and retweets filling it on occasion (Than you all for that!!).

I was walking back towards Sue, after grabbing a quick drink, when I saw someone in the Media Lounge taking a moment, as he knew he had a full night ahead… I’d yet to meet him, but we’re eager to get him into the studio at some point… Jason Priestley was right there!

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Fantastic!!

Sue and I were just having a grand ole time, until a stunning vision stepped up onto the phot dais, and I had to stop, and literally said, “Cheeses! Is that Helene?” Meaning, of course, Murdoch Mysteries Doctor Ogden, Helene Joy, who gave me a quick wave and hello before posing for pictures.

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Right?!?!

Well I was snapping a quick pic, Sue was having a pretty special moment, as our friend, Anna Silk, Bo from Lost Girl, paused in giving her interview to call out, “Hi Sue!”

Sue, caught completely unawares, broke into a huge grin, and waved with both hands.

When Anna moved on to her next interview, before she saw me, I got a chance to snap this quick picture…

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Anna is one of the most warm and genuine people I have ever met, and is completely down-to-earth, so was more than willing to pose for a couple of selfie pics with us, after her photo shoot on the dais.

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Both Sue and I were ecstatic when we heard a very familiar voice speaking from the red carpet, and looked to see Bomb Girls Meg Tilly giving an interview! Sue and I adore Meg and have had an opportunity to quickly say hi and chat with her a couple of times here in TO, but it delights to no end that she recalls us everytime we meet. So as I was walking in for a quick handshake, she pulls me into a hug. She’s so awesome!

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So calling Sue over, which caused Meg to light up again, we decided to have a quick pic, and give a shout out to all the Bomb Girl fans!

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We also have lots of love for Seed, so was glad to see our friend Laura De Carteret, who’s interview is coming up on the show soon, watch for that, as she’s such a joy to talk with…

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Shortly after that, the carpet began to die down as the pre-show awards began, ramping up into a huge celebration of Canadian film and television, hosted by Martin Short, where the best of the year walked away with deserved accolades!

Call Me Fitz, starring Jason Priestley won Best Comedy Series, Orphan Black took Best Dramatic Series, Lost Girl took Favorite Series, David Cronenberg was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Viggo Mortensen, alongside Maria Bello. Mortensen, of course, shot History of Violence with Bello and Cronenberg as well as Eastern Promises and A Dangerous Method.

I was just stunned to see him there! (and speaking of stunned, I was gobsmacked when I saw Zachary Levi walking by with Rookie Blue’s Missy Peregrym, I simply blurted out “Zach!” He called back to ask me how I was, and all I could come back with was, “Good! You?!” – Chuck Bartowski… I miss you).

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We got to say hi to Supernatural’s Liane Balaban, with the hopeful intention of having her join us in the studio some day soon!!

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We cheered for Orphan Black, and actually, most of the Social Media Lounge did as well, at least the ones who weren’t busy typing, facebooking, or tweeting the news! So we were very delighted that when Jordan Gavaris saw us, he popped over for a quick pic!

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It was a simply stunning night, and while Sue and I weren’t completely out of our element, because we had been given access, at this point, we were happy to sit back, watch things that happened, chat to people we knew, make some new inroads, and meet new peoples, but we didn’t want to detract from any of the bigger outlets or more importantly the people who were celebrating their work that night.

So we were quite happy to have a sit down and a beer (or two), tweet things that happened, and just generally walked around with big grins plastered on our faces…

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But when we heard Lost Girl taking Favorite Series we knew he had to cheer on Anna and Zoie and offer them hugs and congrats when they came down, and of course, do our best to break Twitter again with another pic…

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Sue and I, we think, get how nights like that work now, and plan to go even bigger next year, if we’re lucky enough to be granted the access again. We still have our sense of wonder, and joy over seeing our shows and movies win, and we delight in seeing those people we know recognized for their work. We don’t ever want to lose that, but you’d better believe that next time around, I think we’re going in there with cameras rolling, with the full force of Smithee TV behind us.

It was an amazing experience, and thank you to Touchwood PR for setting it up for us.

We will continue to support, love and talk about the amazing films and television coming out of our beloved country and delight as we watch that love spread across the globe.

Congratulations to everyone who one Sunday night! We love you all!!

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What Sue’s Watching – Playing PVR Catch-up

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Last week saw a lot of epic television, but I’m going to try and focus on a few in particular this time – especially the ones that I inadvertently left out last post.

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Lost Girl – Tim usually writes the episode recaps, and while I thought of trying to write one for last week’s insanely huge ep, I foun I really had no idea what to say.  HALE!!!  WTF?!  NOOOOO!!!!  My inability to string together a coherent sentence tells me that it was a fantastic episode, but the downside of that is that I can’t say anything intelligent about it.  I never really got on board with the romance between Hale (KC Collins) and Kenzi (Ksenia Solo), so I was all judgmental through the first half of the ep…like, dude, don’t surprise her with a visit from her estranged mother and then propose in front of her!  So much pressure!  But then Ksenia’s performance when Hale was struck down was so powerful I was in tears for a romance I didn’t even believe in!  I think the shock also hit me because I was distracted by Hale touching his ear right after he Sirened his heart out….I thought maybe something was wrong with his power if he was bleeding from the ears.  But I barely had time to think, “Oh no…” when the best abs ever were impaled from behind, and my brain was in denial.  Part of me still doesn’t want to believe it.  This episode had 2 other characters who were presumed dead (welcome back Linda Hamilton!!!), and this is LOST GIRL.  Anything can happen.  However, having the balls to kill off a beloved major character like that deserves HUGE kudos and respect, and the creators have both of those things, and more, from me.  Just, you know…DAAAMMN!!!

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The Following – I am so freaking happy that this creepy damn show is back!  Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is the coolest thing since Jack Bauer (who I will also gladly welcome back in a few months!), and James Purefoy’s Joe Carroll is the most amiable serial killer ever.  It’s easy to see why he has so many devoted followers.  He’s so warm and kind…right up until the moment he stabs you and giggles while you die.  That was just disturbing.  But his attempt at a southern accent was comedic gold, and the sad tension between Hardy and Mike (Shawn Ashmore) is just heart-breaking to watch.  I want them to work together again.  It’s dangerous, but they are better together than separately, and something tells me that they’re going to need each other before too long.  Those twins are BADASS.  Okay, and here’s something I just this moment found out – the twins are played by the same guy!  Sam Underwood plays both roles so convincingly I thought it was actually a set of cute identical twins in the roles!  Perhaps he’s the male version of our favourite clone, Tatiana Maslany?  Anyway, the storyline is slowly kicking into high gear with 2 segments of the cult, and Joe back in action after his first new kill in recent months.  I love seeing how the cult members contact one another, and the Joe Carroll masks are disturbing as hell!  So love this show, and can’t wait for whatever happens next.  Oh, and, Ryan Hardy?  My money’s still on you!

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Teen Wolf – The blacklight party the kids held this week was awesome – it was sexy, it looked crazy cool, and it was the perfect place for those creepy black figures to come out of the dark and brand our heroes.  Seriously?!  Who came UP with those things!  I love Lydia (Holland Roden) giving the gears to her twin, while the other twin (Max and Charlie Carver, but I always forget which is the “gay one”) flirts shamelessly with Danny (Keahu Kahuanui), but I am torn watching the sweet chemistry developing between Allison (Crystal Reed) and Isaac (Daniel Sharman), and between Scott (Tyler Posey) and Kira (Arden Cho).  I still want – and expect – Scott and Allison to end up together, and I think they do, too.  Just, in the meantime, there are other fascinating people on their radars!  I hope we get to find out more about whatever Kira “is”…her photograph when the flash is on looks cool!  I am also interested to see what she thinks of Scott being a werewolf, too.  Her family probably doesn’t hunt them, at least, so that’s something.  I was NOT expecting that end bit with Stiles (Dylan O’Brien), either!  HE left the message on the blackboard?!  Holy crap!  What’s happening to our boy?!  This is one show that continues to refresh itself and keeps itself moving forward in new and unique ways.  I can’t wait to watch each and every episode!

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Saving Hope – Oh man, this episode was a heart-breaker, too!  Alex (Erica Durance) went above and beyond to try and save her poor patient, only to realize too late that the possible answer had been staring her in the face the whole time.  Devastating!  I love the talk time between Charlie (Michael Shanks) and Gavin (Kristopher Turner).  I actually put one of Charlie’s lines into my phone’s notes because I laughed so hard I didn’t want to forget it:  “I don’t like your couch.  it smells like onions.  And shame.”  I’m glad that Charlie tossed his pills at the end, too, as not taking them could have made a difference in saving the patience, too.  Though if the medication was actually having an affect, what does that say about the “ghosts” he’s seeing?  I’m very happy to see more use being made of Zach (Benjamin Ayres) in recent episodes, too.  He melted me with a lie for a kid’s sake, and I’m glad to see some of his comedic side getting play, as well.  Ah, Hope Zion, how I wish you were real so that I could wander your halls, too!

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Haven – Colin Ferguson has a certain boyish charm about him, but as William, that same charm works to make him rather disturbingly evil as he grins his way through the streets and mysteries of Haven, Maine.  He’s told Audrey (Emily Rose) that they used to create Troubles together – to balance one another out.  He creates a sound Trouble and gives it to a baby, so she is supposed to create a silent Trouble to give to someone else.  Once she successfully accomplishes this task, she will remember who she was originally and, presumably, get back together with William.  Nathan (Lucas Bryant) and Duke (Eric Balfour) aren’t having any of it, and Duke actually tries to convince her to give him his family curse back.  The father of the Troubled baby is willing to let Duke kill him to end the curse for his son.  Our heroes can’t come up with any other option by episode’s end, and we’re left waiting to see if Audrey will go through with it.  Duke’s family is dead, except for the daughter he fathered who made him grow old unnaturally fast, so there won’t really be a way for him to get rid of it again, I don’t think.  If any Crocker is going to shoulder the burden of that particular Trouble, though, I’m glad when it’s Duke.  Not sure how long he’d be able to fight using it, but he has put up the most struggle thus far.  Meanwhile, Jennifer (Emma Lahana), Vince (Richard Donat) and Dave (John Dunsworth) have to find the “heart of Haven” in order to get more instructions from the mystery book, and it turns out that they have to go check out the lighthouse.  Of course…it’s always the lighthouse!  Jennifer opens a trap door only she can see, and in a cavernous area below the lighthouse, the trio finds a giant replica of the Guard tattoo carved into the stone floor.  There are 4 points to the compass-like image, and so they figure they need four people – one to stand at each point.  I’m not sure it can be ANY four people, but we’ll see.  I have no idea what to expect next, and that’s one of the billion things I love about this show.  AND it has been renewed for a fifth season – with DOUBLE the number of episodes each previous season has had!  I can not wait!!!

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Bitten – I’m finding that every time someone from the Pack sneaks into a hotel room to check out a Mutt, I get stressed out.  I know the Mutts can smell them, and vice versa, so I’m always stressed about them getting caught.  And I’ve read the book!  I love that there was a time for mourning their lost friend, and I love that Elena (Laura Vandervoort) does this thing with her hands when she’s upset.  She doesn’t just use facial expressions to convey emotion – she uses her whole body.  As does Greyston Holt as Clay.  After Clay and Elena went for a run to wear off some frustration and anger, she made it clear that she didn’t want to be with him, and from that moment on, Clay walked differently; carried himself differently.  He looked like a dog that had been kicked down one too many times.  He looked cowed.  It was just the slightest physical change, but it spoke volumes and encompassed how Clay was feeling for any viewer to see.  The scrapbook was just disturbing, and that second trip to the adjoining hotel rooms was crazy tense!  But Elena’s reaction to the writing on the wall?  Perfect.

Lost Girl Set Visit

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It’s a dark and dreary day as Sue and I make our way across the cityscape of Toronto, heading to the west side so that we can plunge into the mysterious, and enchanting world of the Fae.

Showcase has invited us to the set of Lost Girl!

We’re very eager to have a look, as we feared we would miss out this year, in fact we know that they are shooting episode 12 of a 13 episode season on this very day.

Arriving at our destination, a rather nondescript building we’d had the privilege to visit before for the Lost Girl Finale pre-show taping, we’re greeted by the unit publicist, Cynthia, who warns us, rather explicitly, that not only do we have to sit on this post until episode 9 of season 4 airs, we are actually not allowed to take any pictures, secrecy is paramount!!! We actually notice photocopied signs plastered everywhere reminding cast and crew that they shouldn’t be posting anything on social media.

They take their storylines seriously here.

Cynthia leads us from the front offices through a door, and suddenly we are in a completely different world, there is a brand new set that we only get glimpses of that is completely bathed in white… I peek in, but we’re bustled by it quickly, and deposited in familiar surroundings, even if we’d never set foot there before.

We’re in the clubhouse, Bo and Kenzi’s place. It’s not lit, but despite that, it doesn’t feel eerie and dark, it feels welcoming and comforting… I know this place.

Cynthia leaves us so that we can get set up for our interviews, we’re allowed to shoot video for those, just not allowed to shoot the hot (camera-ready) sets or post anything that may reveal anything about the new season.

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Instead, Sue and I wander about Bo’s place. We lounge on the couch, leaf through the amazing collection of books that production designers and props teams have filled the room with, the vending machine in the corner, theres is a work station just next to the kitchen area that is littered in a variety of mobile phones, blackberries… it looks like E.T.’s work station when he’s assembling his communicator.

There are piles of games, cds and movies piled on the mantelpiece below the television, but I don’t get a long enough moment to take a look at what music and games keeps Kenzi busy when she’s not onscreen.

It’s odd, everything looks so solid and real, but don’t lean against a wall or pillar, or look through the wrong door, because the illusion will be shattered.

If it’s possible, being on the set, everything looks cozier than it appears on television. That couch is so incredibly comfortable, it’s a wonder that none of the cast fall asleep in there. So comfy!!

We take a peek through one of the clubhouse’s doors, step through it, and in through another one, and we find ourselves in a desolate and barren Police Station. It seems so empty, there’s no activity, no people, but there are plenty of files… And if you ever get a look at it, you’ll find that almost all of it is about Kenzi! A whole police department devoted to Kenzi’s criminal activities!! There’s also a wicked looking BMW motorcycle parked in the interrogation room… is it for the show? Can we touch it? No one seems to have an answer…

We get a chance to say hello to Production Designer Ian Brock before we are whisked back towards the white-drenched set, I can make out rippled walls with flourescent light tubes running at wait height along its length… But we can’t quite make out what is going on there.

It’s always fascinating watching the reality of creating fantasy, bringing the Fae world to life. Like other sets we’ve been to, the sets are incredibly detailed, which not only creates the world of the show for the fans, but there is so much that viewers won’t see, and you know that they are there for the actors, and because people love designing things for projects they enjoy working on.

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We’re joined by Stephanie from Geek Chic Elite for the day, and we all jot down our notes, and trade stories as we Cynthia takes us through the menagerie of sets.

We find ourselves stumbling into Bo’s bedroom, lush and gorgeous, and is it getting warm in here?

From there we’re led around and behind sets until we find ourselves in Trick’s Lair. It’s a cozy little nook, that is filled with lots of comfortable spaces that would just be perfect for curling up with a book and a cuppa, and forget the problems that mythological creatures are causing in the city.

We wander into the Dal, and update the picture Sue and I took their previous, and check the chalk board to see what is written on it this time, while crew movie efficiently through the surrounding areas to set up for the next shot. As we belly up to the bar briefly, Cynthia reveals some of the names that we can expect to see this season, but reiterates that we can’t share. We happily remind everyone we meet, that as a rule Sue and I don’t do spoilers, I’d prefer the surprise. I don’t mind knowing a certain actor is coming in to be on the show, but don’t tell me anything about their character or storyline. I’d rather watch and learn.

We wander back towards the studio entrance, as a friend wants to say hi. We pop into the writers’ room, and there is our friend, and Lost Girl showrunner Emily Andras, who greets with smiles and hugs, revealing that she and her fellow writers are just finishing up the prep on 4.13.

We hang out and chat for a while, as I just revel in the sensation that the words, the peoples, and the worlds of Lost Girl are created in this room, and right out that innocuous looking door, all of those things change from ideas on a page to a version of reality. That is just a cool feeling that I hope no one who works in a writers’ room loses.

Stepping back out on to the set floor, we see a group of chairs clustered together, and a couple of familiar faces waving at us, as we stride over happily to greet them.

Anna Silk embraces me, while Casey Hudecki gives Sue a huge bear hug. Then we swap. It strikes me that we haven’t seen either of these two women in a long time! We hadn’t seen Casey nor Anna since we last chatted with them on our show, but within moments we’re catching up like old friends, we talk about Sam, our mutual friends and our collection of pets.

Anna pulls out her iphone to share lots of pics of little Sam, who really is the cutest baby I’ve ever seen, nor have I ever met one who smiles so much and so readily.

Everyone is called away for blocking and prep for the next scene, so we settle into their seats for a moment before working our way around when rehearsals are done. We pause long enough to see Anna, Seth Cooperman, and get introduced to little Sam, who seems to be taking very nicely to set life, thank you very much.

We head back to the clubhouse so that the cast can shoot their next scene, and we can all get ready for our interviews. Settling onto one of the chairs, the clubhouse has begun to feel like home, and it’s amazing how welcoming and at ease one feels there.

We wait until Cynthia lets us know that our first interview is ready, and we head back over to the police precinct…. The newly introduced, but much talked about Wanderer. Kyle Schmidt!

Sue and I have been fans of Kyle’s for a while as he constantly works with our friends April Mullen and Tim Doiron for their films, and he reveals that between days shooting Lost Girl, he’s actually traveling back and forth from Niagara Falls to work on their new movie. And amazingly, there wasn’t a single scheduling conflict!! Afterwards, a couple of the crew comment how cool it is that we’re conducting interviews as video-selfies, admittedly they don’t always look amazing, but they do tend to be fun!

Check out our chat with him here, as our video-selfies continue!

After our brief chat with Kyle, we get to settle in and catch up with Anna for a few minutes, which was nice, because we don’t see her nearly as much as we would like to…

Then right before lunch was called, we got to catch up with Paul Amos, who as we’ve seen, has a lot going on this season…

During lunch, which was amazingly good, we all chat and laugh, Paul Amos joins us for a meal, and then our friend Tanya Lemke arrives, as she was in the neighborhood and knew we would be on set today. The lunch room has been decorated since Sue and I were last here, and there are Lost Girl posters and pictures for various episodes encircling the room.

After lunch, we only have one more interview left on our docket, we finally will be given a chance to chat with Ksenia Solo!

In the interim, while they do make-up, block, rehearse and shoot, we adjourn back to the police precinct where Cynthia tells us about her time as an investigative journalist, and she has some amazing stories, and then we all start swapping our own ghost stories, or friend of a friend stories. It seems we all have spooky stuff that happens to us.

Secrecy abounds on this set. Whether it be sets, characters or plot points.

The refrain for the day is “You didn’t hear that,” followed by a stern yet friendly glare, reminding us to keep the secrets we learn. Of course, neither Sue nor I would want to ruin any of the show’s revelations before they air…

As we sit and wait, people pass by to and from sets, every time Anna happens by, she slows down to give us a hearty wave and a smile.

Eventually, the motorcycle is claimed, apparently it’s not part of the show… Kris Holden-Ried wanders in, gives Sue a big hug, I get a joyous handshake, and he reveals that the bike is in fact his. We chat for a few minutes catching up with one another, before he wheels the gorgeous vehicle out of the studios.

Finally, opportunity presents itself, and a gracious and very friendly Ksenia Solo joins us, thanking us profusely for waiting around for her. We, of course are delighted, and what better way to end our day on the Lost Girl set than with one of the few cast members we haven’t spoken to coming on our show…

And like that our day ends, we wandered through the sets one more time, looking, marvelling, wondering… then we pass through the door into the front offices and the world of Fae, populated by friends and acquaintances, is left behind.

We bid our farewells to Cynthia, thanking her for the millionth time that day, swap contact info with Stephanie, and then make for the TTC and the reality of our own magical lives…

Lost Girl S04E07 – La Fae Epoque

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This week’s episode takes us inside the mind of Dyson (Kris Holden-Ried) as he is held by The Keeper (Christine Horne) and the Una Mens, not for his reaction at the end of last week’s episode, but for crimes of his past, murdering both human and Fae.

Bo (Anna Silk) refuses to believe Dyson would do such a thing, and she and Lauren (Zoie Palmer) recruit a channeler (Vanessa Matsui), to allow Bo to sift through Dyson’s memories to find the truth and establish his alibi.

This is the launching point for the episode which allows Anna to play Dyson, and the rest of the cast to take over roles in Dyson’s head as Bo’s mind merges with his so that some very familiar faces appear on different characters. Paul Amos plays the bushy-mustached Prince Phillipe, with a hilarious lisp, Ksenia Solo plays Angel, someone we start to seek out by the end of the episode, and Zoie takes on a forest nymph, performing in Angel’s Cirque de Ciel.

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It’s a visually sumptuous episode allowing our characters to try on different personas and costumes, and they all look great doing it.

In the real world Hale (K.C. Collins) and Kenzi (Solo) try to help Dyson out, but Kenzi is captured and sentenced to death alongside Dyson. While there, he tells her the story that Bo herself is currently reliving within his memories. He also suggests that he start training her, when they get out, to be a Shadow Thief… which sounds pretty cool…

But it led me to a thought, something Kenzi says, Bo always saves them… While there has been an emotional cost to some of the things they’ve done, none of the core group has ever been in real jeopardy, we know they’re going to be saved. It’s safe.

Now to clarify, I don’t want any of these actors to be out of work, I’ve met them all, and they are warm and charming people, very aware of how blessed they are to be on such a beloved show…

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But…

Something catastrophic, something that can change the way the characters relate to each other, a death, a possession… something. Something to drive home the costs and the price…

I’m put in mind of the show Angel, when Fred (Amy Acker) becomes Illyria. It changed everything for the characters, but didn’t leave any of the cast unemployed.

It’s a great looking episode, with a tint added to Dyson’s memory to give it a slightly aged look, and despite, in some cases, it’s just Lost Girl sets redressed to look like something else, as Dyson’s and Bo’s memories merge, it looks completely unlike any episode that has gone before it. The costumes, the design… all of it looks gorgeous.

But now, Bo is going to be out there, looking for the Wanderer and the partner to the Hell Shoe that Dyson has.

I won’t lie, I got a little eye-rolly when I realized we were looking for a pair of shoes (and if they’re hell shoes… wouldn’t they have heels?)… still the rest of the episode shines!!!

What did you think of it?

Lost Girl airs Sundays on Showcase.

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