Tag Archives: Patrick Tarr

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.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Cardinal: Showrunner Patrick Tarr reviews “Jack”

A few weeks ago, I ran an interview with Patrick Tarr. Our chat happened over a year ago, before he took over showrunning duties for Season 3 of Cardinal.

Now that the third cycle, “By the Time You Read This,” is in full flight, I wanted to reconnect not just to ask about what it was like to work with Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse, but why he decided to change some key plot points from Giles Blunt’s source material and his experiences working with director Daniel Grou.

First of all, congratulations on Season 3 of Cardinal. You captured the look and feel of the series while putting your unique mark on it. Have you watched a broadcast episode and, if so, what were your thoughts?
Patrick Tarr: Thanks! When I was first approached about writing Cardinal, the first season wasn’t even finished. I watched episodes with temp score, no VFX, timecodes on the screen. But you still could see what it was, that there was something special in the characters and their world. A few months later, Noelle Carbone, Shannon Masters, Aaron Bala and I were in the writer’s room when the first season started airing. And suddenly it was a hit, it really seemed to resonate with viewers. So the pressure was on: don’t screw this up. I spent a lot of time in post-production of Season 3, I’ve seen these episodes so, so many times. And we all get to the point where we think and hope it’s good, but who knows? So finally seeing it on the air and getting to see that people are reacting positively is a huge relief. Now onto worrying about screwing up the next one.

You did change a few things from the book. In Crime Machine, Roman and Irena are decapitated. And, Noelle Carbone told me she had originally written it as the couple on a burial platform. Why did you decide to change that?
PT: When you get a couple of seasons into any series, you have to be careful about repeating things. There are things that might not feel repetitive in books but will feel much more so in a series, especially one that you can binge. So when we looked at Ray Northwind in Season 2 and the dismemberment in that terrifying shed of his, it seemed like we needed to find something different for our first victims. But of course, it had to be something visually creepy and filled with dread because it’s Cardinal. These are the kinds of conversations we have. We cycled through a few ideas and there was indeed a burial platform version, which I loved, but then that boat image hit and it felt so right. It also tied into stuff that comes out later in the season, both visually and thematically. It connected some dots for all of us. And the way that rising boat shot was executed by Daniel Grou, Dylan McLeod and the whole crew … I find it so grimly beautiful.

And, also, Mama is male in Crime Machine. Why change the character to female? I’m not complaining. I’m just wondering from a storytelling point of view.
PT: Before Sarah Dodd started writing Season 2, she and I got together at Sienna Films for a couple of days with a pile of the Giles Blunt books and talked about what Seasons 2 and 3 might be. There was some shifting around of material, and we also realized that Ray Northwind from Blackfly Season and ‘Papa’  from Crime Machine bore a few similarities to each other that weren’t glaring in the books, but definitely would be on television. The moment that the idea of ‘Mama’ arose, it was electric. I hadn’t ever seen this character before. That is always the most exciting feeling—I have not seen this before. 

Rya Kihlstedt is fantastic as Mama. Did she audition and, if so, was there something she did in her audition that cemented she was perfect for the role?
PT: Early on one of our casting directors, Jon Comerford, sent an email with a link saying something like, ‘Hi this is Rya Khilstedt and she should be Mama but we need to move fast.’ So we all watched her reel and within five minutes it was ’YES!’ from everyone. It was instant—this was Mama. And then Rya came in with such energy and excitement to play this character. And on set, the relationship that Mama’s surrogate kids (Alex Ozerov, Sophia Lauchlin-Hirt, Nick Serino) had with her and with each other was very sweet. They bonded like a real family. Because their story runs separately to the main action for a while, we shot almost all their scenes in the space of a week or so, like its own little indie film.

The Jack/Mama relationship is an interesting one. Before she laid him down on the bed to strap him, it felt overtly sexual. Was that intentional?
PT: Yes, it was. That scene was pivotal, and it became a real challenge to find the right balance. It moved around in the editing a few times. Originally the scene played later after you’d already spent some time getting to know Mama, Jack, Lemur and Nikki. But making this Jack and Mama scene the very first scene of the episode was a bold choice that was like, ‘OK, here we go, meet the family.’ We had spent two episodes convincing the audience that Jack is a terrifying predator (which he is), only to reveal in the first scene of Episode 3 that he’s completely under someone else’s power.

It’s a big moment of character development for both Mama and Jack as you see that she knows exactly which buttons to press to make Jack do what she wants. Which is different from the way that she manipulates Lemur or Nikki. Even within that scene, she uses love and fear, intimacy and pain to keep Jack under her spell. In the book, Papa’s use of sex as a means of control is much more overt. And even though what we shot was pulled back some, I’m sure a lot of people are going to be uncomfortable watching it. I’m not looking forward to the phone call I’m gonna get from my mother on this one.

When I last spoke to you, we were in North Bay and your cycle hadn’t started filming. What was it like working with Billy and Karine?
PT: They have both internalized these characters so much. Their scenes together have all this tension, but it’s not tension borne out of traditional conflict. It’s a deeper thing, I think. They’re both a little afraid of each other, or of what they mean to each other. And as actors, they are both so driven to do more with less. It’s a lot of work, the way that they use looks and silences to convey emotional moments rather than to find pauses between them. Sometimes Billy would come up and ask if I thought he needed to say a certain line and I learned immediately to trust those instincts. It was always better without the line. And Karine finds these emotional beats within beats. The way that she plays Delorme, every scene is really telling a story about her.

I know Podz from his directing of 19-2. What does he bring to the table as a director and what do you learn from someone like him?
PT: The writer/director relationship on Cardinal is not like on other shows I’ve worked on. Because Daniel directs the entire season, it really had to become a creative partnership. He knows his job and I know mine, but there is a lot of overlap between them. We got good at finding compromises and balancing what we each saw in the story along with what our producers at Sienna and our network saw in it. I trusted his instincts because I loved his work in the first season and I’d seen what he’d done with 19-2. What I really got from watching Daniel work is that his every directorial choice is motivated by emotion. Camera moves are emotional. Location choices, wardrobe, casting—it all comes from that place for him rather than what would look cool. The way he speaks to the actors, they can tell he’s put himself into the hearts of the characters and can engage with them about what they’re feeling. And I think that helps them feel trust and comfort and to find something true in what they’re doing in a scene.

I love that, this season, Lise has taken the lead and Cardinal is reporting to her. It has really refreshed that relationship for me, as a viewer. I’m assuming it was fun for you too.
PT: It was indeed. We kind of expected a bit of pushback on that, as suddenly the guy that the show is named after isn’t in charge anymore. But everyone was so into that new dynamic, and how it allowed the characters to go to places they hadn’t before. Cardinal is on this emotional journey and Delorme is taking up his slack and then some. They’ve been through the shit together and she has proven herself to him over and over. So when he starts to lose focus she’s right there calling him on it the way he called her out for digging into his past in Season 1. It also gave a new dynamic to Delorme’s relationship with Kristen Thompson’s Dyson character. Those two are each bearing silent burdens in this season, each of them trying to support someone through grief while struggling with issues of their own.

What can viewers expect from the rest of this season?
PT: Next week’s episode, written by Shannon Masters, is such a showcase for Karine Vanasse. She’s flipping from action scenes to big dramatic scenes, and she’s just so intense and incredible through all of it. You really feel the disappointment in Delorme that her partner is failing her and leaving her to deal with this huge, awful case alone. But even as she feels that she still sympathizes with him and has the patience for him. Moving into the end of the season, as things start to close in on John Cardinal, Billy Campbell will break your heart. Not to mention, we have Mama and her family headquartered at the remote cabin of Lloyd Kreeger (Tom Jackson). They are a volatile bunch. It’s a complicated season with multiple storylines and points of view, but it all comes together in the end. Things that didn’t seem like they would ever connect end up becoming hugely important. There are visual sequences that still take my breath away after multiple viewings. I really hope people will connect with it and want to come back to see what happens next.

Want to score the ultimate Cardinal contest? Visit CTV.ca to enter for a chance to win an on-set experience by watching the latest episode of Cardinal, Season 3, and visiting CTV.ca to submit your answer to the trivia question.

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

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Cardinal: New showrunner Patrick Tarr previews Season 3 of CTV’s miniseries

For Season 3 of Cardinal, Patrick Tarr had a, perhaps, unenviable task ahead of him. After Aubrey Nealon created the world of John Cardinal for TV from that made by author Giles Blunt, Sarah Dodd followed up with the second season. Now Tarr unveils his interpretation of the source material—and Algonquin Bay—in Cardinal.

Returning Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on CTV, Tarr has done a magnificent job of furthering Blunt’s vision while picking up the ball from Nealon and Dodd and running with it. Combining the novels By the Time You Read This and Crime Machine, viewers rejoin John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) and Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse) moments after the Season 2 finale, when Cardinal arrived at the scene of a suicide to discover it was his wife, Catherine (Deborah Hay), who was dead. Reeling from her death, Cardinal nonetheless plunges back into work when a double murder occurs, shattering the quiet of Algonquin Bay in autumn.

We spoke to Tarr, who most recently served as a writer and executive producer on Saving Hope, during a set visit to Cardinal in North Bay, Ont., last year.

How did you come on board? Did the fact that you’re already in the Bell Media family and your relationship with them via Saving Hope have anything to do with it? 
Patrick Tarr: I think that helps a lot, yeah, that they knew my work from three seasons of Saving Hope. I’m someone who hasn’t done this job before. I think they were looking for some fresh eyes. Sarah [Dodd] was in the same situation, someone who worked on Motive and is about at the level where she would do this.

So, I think they were looking at both of us, and then there was the realization, well rather than have one person do two seasons, we could two different people do a season. I think it gives it its own real flavour. Because they are technically miniseries, they have different writing styles, where each marry to the season that we’re in. So Cycle 1 is very much about the winter, and that frosty inhospitable landscape. Two is about summer, and about the bugs, and it’s beautiful, but there’s decay and there’s things behind it. And then fall, I have. It’s really woven into what the season’s about and the theme of the season.

I was finishing up Saving Hope. Sarah and I got together before we started down this road, and we had both read all of the books, and just talked about what her season was going to be, and what my season was going to be. So from very early on, we were collaborating on what these two seasons would be and she read everything of mine, and I read everything of hers. I was thrilled that they thought of me, and took a chance on me. This is great.

Did you look at Season 1, and what director Podz and Aubrey had done, and then say, ‘I want to keep the flavour of what they did?’ Or do you try and make it your own, within the confines of the books?
PT: Both. I mean, I’ve watched those Season 1 episodes probably five or six times each. And sometimes when I’m writing, I like to have just images in the … so I’ll just put it on with the volume down and you see these people in this town … it inspires a little bit. But at the same time, I’m adapting different material, and it takes place at a different time. Who your villains are really define the flavour of your season so much too. So there’s a big element of that. It’s taking I think, largely just the great character work, and the great relationship between Cardinal and Delorme. I think that’s the spine really. And to a certain extent, the character of the town, and Dyson, and all of these people that you keep. But then you bring in all of these other elements, and it’s like chemistry. Well, how does it react with that?

One of the things that’s been really interesting about the first season, and going back to the books again, is that so much of the story is in Cardinal’s head.
PT: You let the images tell the story.

Has that been a bit of a change for you? Saving Hope, where there’s so much dialogue.
PT: It’s night and day. It’s a wonderful change. You’re about to write a line and then you’re like, ‘No, I don’t need that line. I don’t need that line either.’ It’s a show where it’s like the writing is the tip of the iceberg, and there’s so much underneath in both of those actors. And in the way that the stylistic template for the show that [director] Daniel [Grou] set up, that you can feel things, and you don’t need to spell them out. Because Saving Hope is more of a soap, and so people talk, and they say what they’re thinking, and that’s a really fun way. There’s a lot of humour in that show. It’s a fun one to write. But it’s about doing the opposite thing. It’s about less, less, less, less, all the time less.

Who did you have in the writer’s room beside yourself?
PT: Noelle Carbone from Saving Hope. A writer named Shannon Masters, who is an old, old friend of mine from the Canadian Film Centre who wrote was on Mohawk Girls, and she wrote a movie called Empire of Dirt. And Aaron Bala, who also came over from Saving Hope. We wrote an episode of that together. And then Matt Doyle is helping me with some of the revisions.

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

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Production Underway on the Third Cycle of CTV and Super Écran’s Hit Serialized Drama CARDINAL

From a media release:

CTV and Super Écran, alongside producers Sienna Films and Entertainment One (eOne), announced today that production is underway on the third cycle of hit original drama CARDINAL, starring Golden Globe® nominee Billy Campbell (THE KILLING) and the multiple Genie Award-winning actress Karine Vanasse (REVENGE). Inspired by By the Time You Read This and Crime Machine, the fourth and fifth novels in the John Cardinal Mysteries series written by Ontario native and award-winning author Giles Blunt, the third season of the networks’ serialized drama is shooting six, hour-long episodes in North Bay, Ont. and Toronto.

The first season of CARDINAL was the #1 new Canadian drama of the 2016/17 broadcast season, averaging 1.1 million total viewers weekly, and received an unprecedented two-cycle renewal. eOne has successfully licensed the series internationally with the first season of CARDINAL having aired in U.S., U.K., France, Spain, and Scandinavia, among other territories. The second season of CARDINAL recently wrapped production and is slated to premiere as part of CTV and Super Écran’s 2017/18 season.

In the third season, entitled CARDINAL: BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS, the autumn season starts to shroud Algonquin Bay, but the glorious fall colours can’t hide the town’s most gruesome double murder for long. As Cardinal and Delorme’s detective work brings them precariously close to a doomsday cult with nothing to lose, Cardinal launches his own investigation into a case far more personal and dangerous.

Joining Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse in CARDINAL: BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS is an all-star supporting cast that includes Rya Kihlstedt (RAY DONOVAN), as Sharlene ‘Mama’ Winston; Aaron Ashmore (KILLJOYS) as Randall Wishart; Alex Ozerov (THE AMERICANS) as Jack; Sophia Lauchlin Hirt (THE ROMEO SECTION) as Nikki; Canadian Screen Award winner Nick Serino (Sleeping Giant) as Lemur; Tom Jackson (NORTH OF 60) as Lloyd Kreeger; Jennifer Podemski (BLACKSTONE) as Wendy Doucette; Susan Coyne (SLINGS AND ARROWS) as Susan Bell; and Devery Jacobs (THIS LIFE) as Sam Doucette.

Returning cast members include Deborah Hay (The Anniversary) as Catherine Cardinal; Glen Gould (Rhymes for Young Ghouls) as Det. Jerry Commanda; Kristen Thomson (Away From Her) as Staff Sergeant Noelle Dyson; Stephen Ouimette as Dr. Frederick Bell; and Alanna Bale (PRIME RADICALS) as Kelly Cardinal.

CARDINAL is produced by Sienna Films and eOne in association with CTV, with the financial participation of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, the Canada Media Fund, and the Cogeco Program Development Fund; and with the assistance of the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit. Super Écran has commissioned the series for French-language Canadian broadcast. eOne distributes the series worldwide.

CARDINAL is adapted from the John Cardinal Mysteries series, a series of six bestselling crime novels written by Giles Blunt. Cycle 3 of CARDINAL is written by Patrick Tarr (SAVING HOPE), who also serves as an Executive Producer and Head Writer, with co-executive producer Noelle Carbone (SAVING HOPE, ROOKIE BLUE) and story editors Shannon Masters and Aaron Bala. Executive Producer Daniel Grou aka Podz (19-2) returns to direct all six episodes. The drama is executive produced by Sienna Films duo Julia Sereny and Jennifer Kawaja (RANSOM, COMBAT HOSPITAL). For eOne, Jocelyn Hamilton and Tecca Crosby serve as Executive Producers.

 

 

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Saving Hope co-executive producer previews the series finale

When you have a chance to talk to one of Saving Hope‘s writer-co-executive producers, you take it. I ran into Patrick Tarr earlier this week in North Bay, Ont., where he is doing pre-production work as the showrunner on Season 3 of Cardinal. Tarr, who has written for Showcase’s King and CBC’s Cracked and the Murdoch Mysteries web series The Curse of the Lost Pharaohs, penned several instalments of Saving Hope, including last week’s “First and Last.”

Now, with the finale “Hope Never Dies” just two days away, we asked Tarr to tease his thoughts on Charlie and Alex’s final storyline.

“I don’t think that there is another ending that is true to what the show is about,” Tarr says. “I asked Adam [Pettle, Saving Hope‘s showrunner], when we were breaking the final episode and we had the idea we did: ‘What is Saving Hope about?’ This is what we’ve been doing for five seasons.”

Tarr acknowledges that, after a handful of seasons, fans are definitely going to have strong feelings if anything untoward were to happen to any of the key characters they’ve fallen in love with. To have something other than a happy ending for Charlie, Alex, Zack, Shahir, Dawn, Dana or Jackson would be incredibly upsetting. That said, Saving Hope is about life, death and everything in between. And, as the writers have proven over the show’s run, no one is safe from injury.

Tarr joined Saving Hope in Season 3 and has been involved in the last 54 episodes and exits with fond memories.

“I’ve been lucky to come on board a successful show that works really well and has great characters and directors,” he says. And now it’s coming to an end this week.

Saving Hope‘s series finale airs Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

 

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