Everything about Heartland, eh?

Link: Heather Conkie, executive producer of Heartland

From Star Crossed Horses:

Link: Heather Conkie, executive producer of Heartland
“I love writing, but the real thrill for me is to see all the Writers’ scripts take life through the incredibly collaborative process from start to finish. The talented directors, our fantastic cast, the crew, the editors, our composer and all the people involved in the production contribute so much to what that finished product is. When it all comes together and it’s beyond our expectations – thatʼs the thrill.” Continue reading.


Andrea Higgins makes sweet music for Wynonna Earp and Heartland

Music is a huge part of a television show. Dramatic scenes have them, they’re a montage staple, and help launch an episode through the all-important opening theme. Andrea Higgins has been accenting Canadian TV moments in current shows like Wynonna Earp, Heartland, Killjoys, X Company and Murdoch Mysteries, and past programs in The Listener, Bomb Girls, Flashpoint and Durham County, finding the perfect tune to amp up the feels in your favourite programs.

We spoke to the head of music supervision at Arpix Media about her career working with on-staff composers who create original music and hunting down the perfect song for a scene.

How did you get into this gig?
Andrea Higgins: It’s been a journey. I’ve been at Arpix for almost 15 years, which is crazy. I listened to music growing up and I was in bands and I was obsessed with movies and TV and music. I was always kind of star-struck with the behind-the-scenes of the music industry and in high school thought, “I want to be an A&R person that scouts bands.” I’m from Hamilton, Ont., so I moved to Toronto and went to the Harris Institute, which is a recording arts school. There are two different sides to the school—the producing and engineering side and the music management side—and I took the management side and learned a lot about the industry, marketing and publishing.

Andrea Higgins. Image courtesy of Arpix Media.

I interned at some record companies and I hated it. It felt very corporate to me and I didn’t like the music they were pushing out into the world. I started hanging around film school kids, going to  movies and somehow discovered, “Oh, that’s a job!” The way I got into music growing up was via soundtracks and musicals and Tarantino soundtracks. I had an epiphany moment and decided to find the person that did that job and work for that guy. A week later, I was in this class called Music and Film, taught by this guy named Ron Proulx. We clicked instantly and I’ve been working with him for 15 years. I started out alphabetizing CDs and faxing things and making coffee. Then I started going to meetings and learning, through osmosis, how to negotiate deals with rights holders.

What I do now really all started with Heather Conkie. One of the first shows that I ever worked on was Dark Oracle. Heather and I hit it off instantly and were always in sync. I was very young, but she clearly saw something in me. So, when Heartland came along she said, ‘I want to do this with you.’

Walk me through the process you go through every week. With Heartland as an example, do you get all of the scripts?
Typically, we have our one staple song in the show, the end montage to kind of wrap it all up and that helps me get what the tone and the emotion is. Is it a sad ending? Is it a happy ending? Is someone breaking up or making up with someone else? Then I kind of pull some ideas for the emotional theme, but I’m a visual person. I need to see the way the camera is moving, the pacing of the scene. There are songs that are scripted, like Georgie is at the father-daughter dance and they are dancing to a song on-camera so they can film it. Or more recently, there was a scene with Lou and Mitch dancing and it was really important to Heather to have a song for filming. I sent her a couple of options that fit lyrically and tonally and it worked out.

Do you have a bunch of bands and their songs lined up for possible use? Are you always on YouTube or the radio, listening to music for use in shows?
It’s a mixture of things. I have several labels, publishers and managers sending me music and singer-songwriters sending me music every day. I dig through blogs, I’m a word-of-mouth person. There is so much music out there, you can’t know about everything. I’m also lucky enough to be invited to music festivals. I am also lucky enough to be invited to music festivals all around the world. I’ll hear something and I’ll make a quick note: “Heartland.”

Can someone get into the music industry by having their song featured on a TV show?
Absolutely. A lot of the music you’re hearing on these shows are unsigned artists. Some are signed, some are signed to indie labels, some have a publisher and some don’t. I think it’s an amazing way to at least get heard and be able to say they’ve had their song featured on Heartland. It’s amazing to see all of the feedback we get regarding the music on these shows.

Let’s switch gears and talk about Wynonna Earp. Who wrote the theme, “Tell That Devil”?
The song is by an artist named Jill Andrews. We had a conversation with Emily Andras and the producers. We wondered if we should get a big song, an indie artist cover a well-known song … we had all kinds of ideas. I’d been gathering a ton of music that felt right for the show early on and there was this one that I kept playing over and over and over. It was “Tell That Devil.” I had put together a playlist and I told my co-worker Kyle Merkley, “This is the one.” I sent them the playlist with an asterisk next to it. Emily loved it, the producers loved it and everyone on the crew responded to it. There was just something special about that one that grabbed all of us.

Who composes the instrumental music for Wynonna Earp?
It’s Robert Carli and Peter Chapman. We thought they’d be a really interesting pair because Rob has an orchestral, more traditional background, and Peter is kind of a young composer with a video game background. He worked on Durham County, which is dark and very sound design-y, with a lot of improvised sounds. We wondered what it would be like to pair them together. Emily wanted an orchestral score from the very beginning and wanted it to sound cool.

What are you working on now?
Right now it’s Wynonna Earp and Killjoys. Heartland is starting back up again, but I won’t dive back into that until summer when we start seeing some picture on that.

Wynonna Earp airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on CHCH. Killjoys returns for Season 2 on Friday, July 1, at 9 p.m. ET on Space. Heartland returns in the fall on CBC.


Comments and queries for the week of April 1

Do you know if there is a Season 2 for The Pinkertons? —Tony

The official word from CHCH—the Canadian network that airs The Pinkertons—is they have not signed on for a sophomore season yet. I’ve spoken to folks who worked on Season 1 who told me The Pinkertons will not be back.

Review: Schitt’s Creek Season 2 finale

This TV show is truly underrated. I’d never even heard of it until an advertising banner showed up on my Facebook page last week. The characters aren’t the normal one-dimensional caricatures you see in most sitcoms, especially David who I find to be a truly unique and compelling depiction of a pansexual person. Not a lot of shows explore this part of sexuality and I find that their nonchalant attitude about David’s sexual identity refreshing. My only complaint is Roland. His character is meant for another dumbed-down comedy. His brand of comedy is slapstick and I find that I can only take him in small doses. In comparison, his wife is a great counterpart for Moira and I enjoy seeing the two of them on screen together. —Lindsay

Agreed about the final episode! It was a great moment at the anniversary dinner when Johnny finally stood up for the town he and his family now call home, and I LOVED the final scene with everyone dancing. Very touching and I had a grin on my face the whole time. :D —Jeff

Heartland celebrates Season 10 news with a surprise

I look at the Lou and Peter drama a little differently, I guess. The world is full of divorced parents, so why not show an audience in a “family” show how two adults can work things out? Is this pie in the sky thinking? Maybe, but this is supposed to be a feel-good family show, in my opinion. —Pat

My family has enjoyed every season and were really impressed by the last episode. My girls have been living with Type 1 diabetes for seven years and were really grateful that the writers took the time to introduce this medical issue that is potentially life threatening. Georgie and Adam did a great job of portraying what it is like and how most people don’t know how to treat a diabetic low. Great job! We are looking forward to Season 10. —Sally


Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.


CBC announces new and returning series for 2016-17 season

From a media release:

CBC today announced five new original programs to its 2016-17 lineup of Canadian hits, along with the renewal of another 10 returning titles. Among the new titles are The Council (working title), a crime drama set in an isolated arctic outpost; observational series The School (working title); Northern-Canadian docu-series True North Calling; comedy series Four In The Morning; and Caught, a dramatic miniseries based on Lisa Moore’s novel of the same name. Series renewed for new seasons as part of the CBC-TV lineup include Murdoch Mysteries, Heartland, The Romeo Section, Hello Goodbye, Canada’s Smartest Person, This Life, X Company, Exhibitionists, Interrupt This Program and Crash Gallery.


6×60 (Winter 2017) – Take the Shot Productions and Entertainment One Television (eOne Television)
Adapted from the book by acclaimed author Lisa Moore, Caught is a riveting tale of bravado and betrayal, of complex characters and treacherous seas, of love, loss and last chances. Allan Hawco stars as David Slaney, who after six years incarcerated in a Nova Scotia prison for smuggling marijuana, has escaped. Slaney sets off on an odyssey that takes him deep into Latin America to reconnect with his once best friend and partner-in-crime who left him holding the bag years earlier. Slaney tastes freedom, but trusts no one and sees cops everywhere he goes.

 THE COUNCIL (working title) – New
10×60 (Fall 2016) – Lark Productions and Keston International Productions
The Council begins on the edge of the Arctic frontier during the endless days of the polar summer when a young woman, a renowned environmentalist, is found ritualistically murdered near the Canadian hamlet of Resolute. An investigation is mounted by the local RCMP inspector Mickey Behrens, an outsider and new-comer to the north who is running from a derailed personal and professional life, and her partner, officer Jo Ullulaq. A soulful counterpoint to Mickey, Jo is torn between the duty to his job and loyalty to his Inuit culture. The pair quickly discovers that the mystery extends far beyond the borders of the town and to the backrooms of Canadian parliament in Ottawa, the dark corridors of U.S. intelligence in Washington, D.C., the committee rooms of the Arctic Council in Copenhagen, the airbases of world powers, and the migrant conflicts at the border of Norway and Russia.

8×30 (Summer 2016) – Serendipity Point Films
Four In The Morning is an edgy comedy that follows four friends in their twenties as they navigate life at the unpredictable, emotional and bewitching hour of 4 a.m. Dealing with themes of life and death, love and heartbreak, friendship and betrayal, it’s a series about self-discovery, disappointment and clawing after dreams that always feel out of reach.

THE SCHOOL (working title) – New
6×60 (Fall 2016) – Paperny Entertainment
The School is an intense, surprising and intimate series that, for the first time, looks deep into the incredible dynamic existing today between students and their teachers at a typical Canadian high school. Based on the award-winning UK format, The School offers unprecedented access into the day-to-day goings on at South Kamloops Secondary School in Kamloops, BC. Facing daily pressures at school, at home and in the world, today’s teens deal with seemingly insurmountable challenges. The School explores themes of teenage life and those all-important student-teacher relationships, which lie at the heart of everyone’s formative years. Fitting in, falling out, exam pressure, peer pressure, first love and last chances—The School uses warmth and humour to describe steps on the journey towards self-knowledge, at a time when both the present and the future remain uncertain.  The School is distributed by Endemol Shine and will premiere on CBC in fall 2016.

7×30 (Winter 2017) – Proper Television
True North Calling will reveal the north to audiences in an entirely new, modern and surprising way. The series follows one season in the lives of several young, dynamic Arctic dwellers carving out a life for themselves and their families on the frozen tundra. We follow the daily dramas as each deals with unforgiving terrain, and unpredictable weather, hunting, guiding, fishing and farming, travelling by snowmobile and dog sled, mixing traditional ways with modern technology, all while making a living in Canada’s most spectacular and treacherous environment.

These newly announced series will debut during the 2016-2017 season, along with previously announced new shows, including: Shoot The Messenger; Workin’ Moms; Kim’s Convenience; and Baroness von Sketch Show.


6×60 (Fall 2016) – Media Headquarters
Canada’s Smartest Person is an original competition series that inspires and entertains Canadians. Each week, competitors go head-to-head in a series of mind-bending challenges that redefine what it means to be smart. Based on the Theory of Multiple Intelligence, the series explores six categories of smarts including linguistic, physical, musical, visual, social and logical.

5×30 (Winter 2017) – Lark Productions
Hosted by Sean O`Neill of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Crash Gallery is a high energy, immersive television series that brings art to life.  In each episode, three talented artists face-off in a real-time creative arena, giving the audience a front row seat and the opportunity to share in the creative process.

26×30 (Fall 2016)
Exhibitionists is a vibrant series that pulls back the curtain on people who create, and why they do it. Hosted by actor, writer and educator Amanda Parris, this weekly show features Canadian artists as they reshape our country’s artistic landscape. Topical, innovative and entertaining, Exhibitionists explores the most exciting cultural happenings across Canada through a passionate lens.

HEARTLAND – Season 10
18×60 (Fall 2016) – Seven24 Films and Dynamo Films
Heartland continues the saga of a Western family as they chase big dreams and manage life’s setbacks, while holding on to what matters most: courage, love, family, and a home you can always come back to. Starring Amber Marshall, Graham Wardle, Alisha Newton, Michelle Morgan, Shaun Johnston and Chris Potter.

13×30 (Fall 2016) – Pivotal Media and Forte Entertainment
Bustling airport arrival and departure terminals see thousands of people every day, and each and every traveller has a unique story to tell. Host Dale Curd meets people from all walks of life who are in the midst of welcoming home or saying goodbye to their loved ones. He witnesses heartwarming, emotional moments that demonstrate the universal themes of love, loss, family, friendship, grief, and joy through each intimate story of arrival and departure.

 (Winter 2017) – Noble Television and Storypark Inc.
Interrupt This Program
 returns with new episodes revealing the surprisingly vital cultural underbellies of unsettled, global cities. In each compelling episode, passionate young artists display art as a form of protest, as a means of survival and as an agent of change. Viewers are guided through parts of the world they have most likely never seen and experience the creativity and vitality of some of the planet’s most intriguing, resilient cities.

THIS LIFE – Season 2
10×60 (Fall 2016) – Sphere Media
Based on the original Radio-Canada hit, Nouvelle adresseThis Life is a family saga set in Montreal that focuses on Natalie Lawson (Torri Higginson), an accomplished columnist and single mother in her early forties whose terminal cancer diagnosis sends her on a quest to prepare her teenage children for life without her. Her tight-knit family – sister (Lauren Lee Smith), two brothers (Rick Roberts, Kristopher Turner) and parents (Peter MacNeill, Janet Laine Green), do the best they can to help her, while coping with their own responses to this revelation.

18×60 (Fall 2016) – Shaftesbury Films
Season 10 of Murdoch Mysteries, marking 150 episodes of the series, will continue to follow the heroes at the Toronto Constabulary as they solve crimes inspired by Canadian history and international celebrities of the early 20th century. Detective Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) will continue to use his cutting-edge forensic methods and scientific inventions to catch criminals and find unexpected adventures in his home life with wife Doctor Ogden (Hélène Joy) and his colleagues at Station House Four, while last season’s newcomer Miss James (Mouna Traoré) takes on more responsibilities at the morgue.

10×60 (Fall 2016) – Haddock Entertainment
Season 2 of The Romeo Section finds freelance intelligence agent Wolfgang McGee (Andrew Airlie) tasked with a covert investigation of a terrorist incident. The trail leads him forward into the dark side of intelligence services and backwards into his own past history of serving in that realm, and its tragic personal and social consequences.  Meanwhile, Lily Song (Jemmy Chen) is now a recruit for the Intelligence Service and working her way up the ladder, while taking drastic action to prevent her discovery as a double agent. Up and coming drug gangster Rufus (Juan Riedinger) gets caught in an escalating city-wide turf war which upsets the gangster hierarchy and triggers an attempted coup d’etat at the top of the heroin food chain.

X COMPANY – Season 3
10×60 (Winter 2017) – Temple Street Productions
Inspired by remarkable true events, X Company is an emotionally driven character drama set in the thrilling and dangerous world of WWII espionage and covert operations. During World War II, a real life spy training school existed on the shores of Lake Ontario. The series follows the stories of five highly skilled young recruits torn from their ordinary lives to train as agents at an ultra-secret training facility, Camp X.

These renewed titles join an impressive list of returning series that have already been announced, including: This Hour Has 22 Minutes (Season 24); Rick Mercer Report (Season 14); Schitt’s Creek (Season 3); Mr. D (Season 6); Dragons’ Den (Season 11); Still Standing (Season 2); Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays (Season 2), and When Calls The Heart (Season 2).


Comments and queries for the week of March 25

Murdoch Mysteries‘ Season 9 and what’s to come in Season 10

I very much enjoyed the season-ender and am very happy that it has been picked up for yet another season. I find the program to be most enjoyable and have followed the show for the nine seasons it has been on. I would like to see Murdoch and Julia with a child and their new home in Season 10. Their is a lot of garbage on TV and it is refreshing to be able to sit down and watch this show. I think you have done a great job. —Cathy

Shame on the people who criticized this episode for its lack of verisimilitude. I agree with the viewer who observed that this great show is fiction and not a documentary. As in all works of fiction, some suspension of disbelief is necessary. I watched this episode and absolutely loved it. This is a wonderful show and all of the actors (especially Yannick Bisson, Hélène Joy and Jonny Harris) are superb. The humour, smart dialogue and the perfect integration of historical fact and creative storyline are what keep the audience coming back each week. This season finale was riveting. You see the physical and emotional closeness between the two main characters and how that translates into interesting plot twists. I appreciate that Hélène is the one saving Yannick and demonstrates both physical and emotional strength. The power of the mind and the mental bond between Yannick and Hélène are repeatedly demonstrated throughout the episode. The spiritual and the unexplained have been incorporated in past episodes. I think the way that they are used in this episode just adds to the appeal of the perfect partnership between Murdoch and Dr. Ogden! To the writers of this show: Keep up the great work! —N

I personally loved the final episode and I love the show and can’t wait to see what Season 10 brings. Keep up the great work. —Deborah

My wife and I loved the last episode. Julia bursting awake, galloping the horse through the wilderness, dressed to hunt for her love, William, and save his life with the bow and arrows. WOW. Very stressful episode but thank the writer gods for a terrific happy ending. —Stevie

Here’s the issue. If we look at the progression of the series, there was a fine balance between events and the character, and there was a strong emphasis on the mystery aspect of the series. The series has lapsed into more soap opera and needs to get back to its roots and focus on, as the title says, Murdoch Mysteries (stressing the mysteries). Perhaps it is time to bring in some new writers who will focus on exploring Toronto/Canada’s history in a way that was accomplished in seasons 1-7. Without doubt, Season 8 was the worst season—Season 9 redeemed itself but some of the episodes remained a bit sketchy. We don’t expect a perfect season but focus on what has made this show great and listen to your audience. I love this show. —Raymond

Absolutely disgusting, a terrible way to end what had been so enjoyable. How could the writers think we are so gullible? If this is the way the show is going I won’t be watching it next season for sure!!! I felt very sorry for the actors, they must have cringed with the stupid plot. —June

I agree. It was totally unbelievable. I am not sure if I want to continue watching the show after this. I found that the entire season was much poorer than the previous ones. —Pat


Heartland celebrates Season 10 news with a surprise

Every time I know a new episode is available I can’t wait to watch it. The ending to Season 9 was perfect and I’m ecstatic for Season 10. Although I do not agree with the above comment for Amy just because you’re pregnant does not make you disabled. I rode horses (including running them) halfway through my ninth month. Oh and my daughter was completely healthy; which is all I wish for Amy and Ty in the next season. I will be patiently waiting for Season 10. Keep up the GREAT work!! —Whitetail

The finale was great. I was very happy that Lou and Peter did not get back together, which would have been the easy way. I like Mitch’s character and hope Season 10 takes us that direction with Lou. Georgie will definitely have to pick up the reins, so to speak as with Amy’s pregnancy she will have to take a step back from the horses.
Great show. Have watched from the start and will continue to watch as long as it runs. —Nancy

I though the last episode of Season 9 was perfect! Absolutely amazing!! Keep up the great work and I’m so excited for Amy and Ty’s baby! —Alana

I really enjoyed the finale, it was perfect. I am actually glad Lou didn’t take Peter back, it was definitely the right call. Is there a future for Mitch’s character? I sure hope so. I think both he and Lou deserve some happiness and they look good together. Additionally, with Amy being pregnant, I guessing Georgie will be stepping in a bit more, helping Amy with the horses. —Felicia


Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? greg@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.