Tag Archives: Karine Vanasse

CBC/Radio Canada, APTN and Ayasew Ooskana Pictures announce casting and start of production on Marie Clements’ Bones of Crows

From a media release:

Ayasew Ooskana Pictures announced today production is underway on the new original five-part psychological drama (5X60) and feature film BONES OF CROWS, commissioned by CBC/Radio-Canada in association with APTN. Created by Marie Clements, the character-driven series features an ensemble cast of talent including Grace Dove (Monkey Beach), Philip Lewitski (Wildhood), Glen Gould (Cold Pursuit), Michelle Thrush (Pathfinder), Gail Maurice (Night Raiders), Cara Gee (The Expanse), Karine Vanasse (Cardinal), Angus Macfadyen (Robert The Bruce), Rémy Girard (District 31), Graham Greene (Molly’s Game) and Lorne Cardinal (Corner Gas).

BONES OF CROWS is told through the eyes of Cree Matriarch Aline Spears as she survives a childhood in Canada’s residential school system to continue her family’s generational fight in the face of systemic starvation, racism, and sexual abuse. She uses her uncanny ability to understand and translate codes into working for a special division of the Canadian Air Force as a Cree code talker in World War II. The story unfolds over 100 years with a cumulative force that propels us into the future.

The project will be shot originally in English, with Cree and Ayajuthem spoken in key scenes and there will be both Cree and French-language versions for broadcast. Filming locations include the Thompson-Nicola Region (Kamloops, Vernon, Quilchena), Greater Victoria Area, and Greater Vancouver Area in British Columbia, and Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Winnipeg portion of production will be produced by Eagle Vision.

BONES OF CROWS is a CBC/Radio-Canada original production, produced with the financial participation of Telefilm Canada, Canada Media Fund, APTN , Independent Production Fund, Shaw Rocket Fund, Bell Fund, ISO (Indigenous Screen Office), FIBC, CAVCO, and First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Cultural Council and Indigenous Arts Program.

BONES OF CROWS is produced, written and directed by Marie Clements (Red Snow, The Road Forward), executive produced by Trish Dolman & Christine Haebler (French Exit, Indian Horse) and Sam Grana (The Boys of St. Vincent) with Executive Producers Lisa Meeches and Kyle Irving from Eagle Vision and the DOP is Vince Arvidson (The Magnitude of All Things).

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Farewell, Cardinal

This Monday night, a Canadian television series says goodbye. After four seasons, Cardinal ends, closing a chapter on some truly groundbreaking TV.

I was a fan of the Cardinal from the very beginning thanks to reading and loving the source material written by Giles Blunt years ago. The tale of a small-town Canadian cop solving crimes? I was all in. But would a television adaptation work? How would a lead character that was so in his head translate to the small screen?

There are a lot of folks to credit with how it was done, from Season 1 writer Aubrey Nealon, to actor Billy Campbell, director Podz, Sienna Films, and executives at Bell Media. Instead of going inside Detective John Cardinal’s head, we stayed outside, the camera coming in close on Campbell’s face, reading what was there in his expression and in his eyes. The same goes for Detective Lise Delorme. Karine Vanasse, and the creative folks get kudos for breathing life into this feisty, fantastic cop. I can’t imagine two actors more suited to the roles they were cast in. Re-reading the novels, which I will do this summer, means I’ll picture their faces as I scan the pages.

Northern Ontario—and the weather than comes with it—has played a huge role in Cardinal‘s storytelling, reflecting the changes in season in this country and adding another layer (pun intended) to each episode.

Back in 2004, Corner Gas debuted. It changed the way we looked at ourselves on the sitcom front, and proved Canada could do comedy just well—and I’d argue better—than the U.S. Now, with Cardinal Bell it has been done with the drama genre. I’m a huge fan of Nordic Noir—crime dramas set in Scandinavian locales—and Cardinal deserves to stand among the very best of those. And, I’m hoping, Cardinal will inspire more drama like it to be created in this country.

Thanks to Billy Campbell, Karine Vanasse, Glen Gould, James Downing, Kristen Thomson, Deborah Hay, Eric Hicks, Zach Smadu, Alanna Bale and the rest of the cast for bringing these characters to life in such a convincing way. Thank you to Aubrey Nealon, Sarah Dodd, Patrick Tarr, Jane Maggs, Gemma Holdway, Naben Ruthnum, Patrick Whistler, Alison Lea Bingeman, Jennica Harper, Russ Cochrane, Noelle Carbone, Aaron Bala, Shannon Masters, Penny Gummerson and Jordi Mand for writing such wonderful scripts. Thank you to Podz, Jeff Renfroe and Nathan Morlando for your directing. And thanks to the crew, producers, executives and everyone else who made Cardinal happen.

I’m going to miss Cardinal, but I’m so glad it was made in the first place. It’s hard to make television in this country, and even harder to do it right.

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Cardinal director Nathan Morlando on Season 4: “It was super, super physically intense”

It’s no secret that I love Cardinal‘s winter settings most. The cold and snow are another character, keeping Algonquin Bay’s citizens inside and cut off from each other. That distancing adds to the isolation and gives an added level of dread to the crimes that are happening.

And while it sure looks good and contributes to the story, the extreme climate played havoc during Season 4 of Cardinal. As co-showrunner and season director Nathan Morlando told us, it was a challenge to bring unforgettable scenes to life.

Morlando, who wrote and directed the feature film Citizen Gangster and directed Mean Dreams, gave us a behind-the-scenes peek at the process.

What was it like to come into Cardinal where the world had already been built?
Nathan Morlando: Fantastic, actually because it had been so strongly established. The only negative, and it’s a very temporary negative, is the stress and anxiety you feel initially by inheriting such a successful show. So before it gets really, really, really going, there’s always that voice in your mind, ‘Are you going to be the one who’s going to screw this up?’ But once the machine gets going, like after the first half-hour of shooting, the voice was gone because there was no time for it.

The positive was to inherit such a great show. And to have been invited to follow on the heels of everyone else that preceded me was really amazing. The Cardinal crew themselves were very loyal, passionate; they are super fans of the show. They care so much and they work so hard. This year we spent the first month in February, which was North Bay’s coldest recorded month in their history. Outdoors it was super, super physically intense and psychologically intense because of that. But the crew was just an extraordinary team. And because they are so loyal to Billy, Karine, to the show, to [producers] Julia [Sereny] and Jennifer [Kawaja], there was never a complaint, there was never, ‘We can’t do this.’

Wow!
NM: For the last episode, we spent a week in the woods. And before we shot that last episode, we had the biggest snowfall in North Bay’s history, it was four feet of snow. And suddenly, the paths and how we thought we were going to shoot this thing and move our trucks, we couldn’t conceivably move in the forest. We had an emergency production meeting two weeks before, whether or not it was even feasible to get in there, to get in and out.

Part of our crew spent days, day and night, flattening paths so that we could actually move in the woods. Steve Cosens, the cinematographer, and I had to go into the woods two weeks before to imagine the movement of all these various scenes. Then we had to imagine where our camera was going to move because. So we had to create the actors’ paths and the camera’s paths two weeks in advance.

Aside from all that planning, what about your cameras? They’ve got to get cold to a point where the shutters won’t close.
NM: Yeah, exactly. For the first couple of weeks, because of these cameras [and temperatures], the camera crew had to get on set earlier and stay sometimes four hours after to heat the lenses because the lenses would fog. They had to work extremely long hours to make that happen. So yeah, there were a lot of equipment challenges. We were using a drone, we were really concerned that the drone would crash in the cold. Fortunately, it didn’t.

My favourite seasons of Cardinal have been the winter seasons. I think it really plays well into the feeling, that isolation that you feel, that you’re supposed to feel.
NM: For sure. And the outer environment, so winter, is actually a character this year, which I really loved. And that’s really, that’s the slow mystery actually, is the character of the environment.

What was it like to work with Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse?
NM: They were amazing, as actors and as people, truly. And the crew worked the way they did because they were committed to Billy and Karine. The crew would do anything for Billy and Karine, and that isn’t always the case … that is not often the case. And the crew feels that way about them because of the way Billy and Karine treat people. This is what’s special about them: there is no hierarchy in their perception. Billy and Karine are friends with everyone and they respect everyone. They care for everyone and they make sure everyone is doing well. They’re real team players and team leaders. We were able to do what we did because of the leadership from Billy and Karine. I was very indebted to that and to the crew for feeling that way.

Cardinal airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.

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Cardinal’s Billy Campbell: “The best role I’ve had in my career”

When asked what his experience has been like playing John Cardinal for four seasons, Billy Campbell hesitates and then states the following:

“This really has been maybe the best job I’ve had in my career, and the best role I’ve had in my career.”

Pretty lofty words for a guy whose career has included roles in such series as The Killing, Once and Again and The 4400. Still, Cardinal really is a series like no other. Based on the books by Giles Blunt, the past three seasons of Cardinal have proved Canada can do Nordic Noir too. And do it darned well.

Returning Monday at 10 p.m. ET on CTV, the final season of Cardinal—tagged Until the Night after Blunt’s sixth and final John Cardinal novel—follows Detective John Cardinal (Campbell) and Detective Lise Delorme (played by Karine Vanasse) as they investigate the deaths of several townsfolk in the sleepy fictional town of Algonquin Bay. Monday’s debut catches up with the pair in the dead of winter as they investigate the disappearance of a legal prosecutor. Cold and snow have been a hallmark of Cardinal—the first season was set in winter, followed by jaunts in the spring and fall—and adds to the feeling of isolation and, perhaps, being unable to escape.

“You’re right about the isolation,” Vanasse says. “The whole environment is supporting that isolation and feeling that you have to be quick when you’re outside. If someone is left outside, yes, he’s going to freeze the death.” Isolation and drawing inward have been a staple of Cardinal and Delorme’s relationship too. Yes, they’re work partners, but that doesn’t mean they’re doing karaoke after shifts. In Season 1, Delorme joined the force to investigate supposed dirty dealings by Cardinal; it can be hard to truly trust someone whose been keeping tabs on you. Add to the fact that, in Monday’s Episode 1, Delorme drops a career bombshell on him … Cardinal even at the best of times can be frustratingly distant.

“That’s Cardinal,” Campbell says simply. “That’s who he is, and he’s a prototypical human male in that respect. He has a very difficult time expressing his feelings and these, I imagine, are such powerful feelings. He just has no framework for even dealing with these feelings inside of himself.”

Veteran actor Currie Graham—most recently seen on The Rookie—plays Neil Cuthbert, the villain stalking Algonquin Bay. According to Bell Media’s press notes, there is a final showdown where Cardinal and Delorme put everything on the line to save an innocent life. (Look for more about that showdown next week in my interview with co-showrunner/director Nathan Morlando.)

With the final six episodes scheduled, and interviews in support of it underway, Cardinal‘s conclusion is sinking in for its co-stars. Vanasse and Campbell admit to claiming key wardrobe as physical souvenirs of their time filming in Sudbury and North Bay, Ontario—she Delorme’s winter gear, he Cardinal’s winter boots—and memories of their time filming.

“The biggest thing that I keep from the show is just the profound happiness of working with this crew,” Vanasse says. “That’s what I’m leaving with. It’s been just wonderful from Day 1 to the end.”

“I get misty thinking about the fact that I won’t be going back to North Bay to do another season of Cardinal with people that I love, and with the characters that I love,” Campbell admits.

Cardinal: Until the Night airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.

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Cardinal: Writer Shannon Masters breaks down “Lemur”

Alas, poor Lemur. Perhaps the strongest all-around survivalist aside from Mama (Rya Kihlstedt) herself, Lemur (Nick Serino) met and untimely, and messy, end at the hands of Jack (Alex Ozerov). Jack took advantage of Lemur being on the run from the police during a botched ATM robbery and killed his “brother.”

Thursday’s newest instalment of Cardinal, “Lemur,” also opened the door on what horrors Jack endured when he was younger and shaped who he is today. Finally, after very much looking to Cardinal (Billy Campbell) for guidance during the past two cycles of Cardinal, Lise (Karine Vanasse) has officially read her partner the riot act. We spoke to the episode’s writer, Shannon Masters—who has written for Burden of Truth, Mohawk Girls and penned her feature film Empire of Dirt—about Jack, Lise and killing off Lemur.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and congratulations on being part of Cardinal. I love the franchise and am enjoying Season 3 immensely.
Shannon Masters: I’m glad you’re loving watching it as much as we enjoyed making it.

Before we get into specifics about the series and your episode, how did you get into the Cardinal writer’s room in the first place?
SM: Two words: Patrick Tarr. We’ve been friends for well over a decade and I think he got tired of watching me bang my head against the wall trying to break into television so took a chance and gave me a shot in the room. Plus, I’m cheap so didn’t break the budget. Ha ha.

This past week has been all about your work. I watched Empire of Dirt the other day on Super Channel and your latest episode of Burden of Truth was on CBC. You’ve taken over Canadian TV over the last 10 days!
SM: Finally. Seriously though, someone has to pinch me because I still can’t believe I get to do this job.

I imagine working on Cardinal has been very different from Burden of Truth and Mohawk Girls. How have you grown as a writer through the Cardinal experience?
SM: Every writing experience is unique, just as each show and showrunner are unique and all provide the opportunity to evolve in different ways. But my growth as a writer on this show specifically was exponential because Patrick trusted (and expected) me to do the job well. That gave me a new confidence in both my ability and my voice. Plus, there is something to be said for having a showrunner who comes in with a rock-solid vision. Lesson: being prepared and having a plan gives you freedom.

It’s been hard to feel anything but anger at Jack and the way he’s been acting. But in the opening moments of ‘Lemur,’ we discover he’s endured something horrifying in his past, including his relationship with this father, and how that connects him to Mama. How do you tackle writing a character like him?
SM: I believe the key to writing bad guys, whether they have a difficult past or not, is to write them as though they believe in what they’re doing, that they don’t think their actions are wrong or bad. In general, people have no idea what they are truly capable of until they find themselves in extraordinary circumstances and are faced with hard choices. That holds true for fictional characters as well. So trying to get into their heads and seeing things through their eyes often lends those characters an intriguing level of depth.

I’m not sure if you’ve seen the rough cut for ‘Lemur’ yet, but there is a moment before Cardinal goes into the apartment to talk to Roger, the ex-con-turned-accountant. John pauses at the top of the stairs, loosens his neck and takes a deep breath. He wants to keep it together and not wring Roger’s neck. Do you remember if that pause was written in the script, or something Billy ad-libbed?
SM: It’s been such a long time since I wrote the episode so it could have been on the page, an acting choice or something that came from our director. What I do remember is going into Cardinal’s story this episode with the feeling that he knows he’s skidding down the rabbit hole but just cannot stop himself. His cop instincts are too strong and his GUT is telling him that his wife did not kill herself. So while he knows that every moment he pursues these men he’s put away, Roger Felt included, his grip on the situation slips a bit more, but he’s gonna do it all the same. So he’s kind of stealing his nerves here before he dives in yet again.

You killed Lemur! Now there is nothing stopping Jack from taking advantage of Nikki. How could you?!
SM: Lol. Nikki is tougher than she looks.

Lise has taken a fierce stand against Cardinal. It’s been fascinating to watch her gaining confidence and taking command. Has it been fun, as a writer, to explore their relationship in Season 3?
SM: Their relationship is fantastic and it’s been incredibly rewarding to get to flesh it out even further this season. In this episode specifically, Delorme’s ferocity is born from her desire to help Cardinal. She and Cardinal have morphed from colleagues into friends with a mutual deep respect, so she doesn’t want to see him torture himself or torch his career. And she’s also got a job to do. She’s been given a lot more responsibility this season and she takes it very seriously.

Cardinal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.

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