Tag Archives: Seven24 Films

Heartland: Amber Marshall addresses Season 14’s emotional return

[Spoiler alert: Do not continue reading until you have watched the Season 14 episode, “Keep Me in Your Heart.”]

Midway through last fall, TV, Eh? began getting emails. There were rumours among Heartland fans that Ty Borden (Graham Wardle) would not return to the show. We the rumours true, those emails asked? I don’t like rumours, so I didn’t address them. Instead, I let the Season 14 premiere of Heartland speak for itself.

And, sadly, as those rumours were true. On Sunday night, viewers learned that Ty succumbed to the gunshot injury he received in Season 13. “Keep Me in Your Heart” was an emotional hour with a memorial for Ty as its centrepiece, a year-later goodbye for the characters that was truly emotional. Here, Amber Marshall answers our questions about Ty’s death and what it means for Amy and the rest of the family moving forward.

Congratulations on Season 14 of Heartland. Can you believe it’s been 14 seasons already?
Amber Marshall: It seems like only yesterday we were all meeting for the first time. The beautiful thing is the excitement we all shared to be a part of that first season, is still strong over a decade later. We genuinely love and respect one another. The cast and crew have remained close and all have each other’s best interests in mind.

COVID-19 threw a wrench in everyone’s lives. How difficult was it for you and the Heartland family to adapt to filming during the pandemic?
AM: Being such a close and social workplace, it took a while to become consistent with a new routine. We are a group that hugs when we meet in the morning and when we leave at the end of the day. We spend many hours on set in close quarters and typically in between scenes and setups we usually all huddle together and run lines, or chat socially. This all had to change in season 14 to allow for COVID protocol to be followed. Lunches were now spent alone in our trailers or vehicles and any time we had in between setups or scenes was usually spent the same way. In some ways it allowed me to get more ‘homework’ done during the day, but the social side of Heartland looked very different.

Sunday’s episode revealed that, unfortunately, Ty developed complications and passed away. As a cast member and friend of Graham’s, how hard has it been to not have him around on-set?
AM: The story of Amy and Ty has been very prominent since Heartland’s beginning. Graham and I have had many beautiful stories on Heartland over the years and have remained very close friends off-set as well. This year was a strange new reality on all fronts. In a way, the longevity of the Amy and Ty story gave me inspiration as an actor to be able to feel the grief and sorrow of losing that character. Graham and I still spoke often throughout the season and I was able to visit him recently as well.

What would you say to fans who are upset Ty is no longer on the show? He and Amy have been the centrepiece of this show since Day 1.
There are things in our lives we can never prepare for. And when something devastating happens it feels as though our world is ripped apart and could never be put back together. I know fans of the show will be deeply saddened by the loss of Ty and I hope that they can join Amy and the Heartland family during this season of healing. There will always be events in our life that are out of our control and upset us. Instead of attacking them, or shutting down, we experience the most growth when we remain open and understanding.

When we pick up with the new season, a year has gone by. How do you feel about the time jump?
AM: Heartland was supposed to begin filming Season 14 in April of 2020. At that time the scripts were written to be six months after Ty’s passing. When the pandemic caused us to push our start until September is was a beautiful thing for our story. Now, instead of ‘six months later’ we have a more powerful story of a whole year passing. I believe this added immensely to the journey of our characters. The memorial on the one-year anniversary of his death was so much stronger than if it was only six months later. Also, the seasons and backdrop to the stage we were setting was far more tailored to the events. To me, the colder climate and fall/winter landscapes make the audience feel the grief so much deeper than a spring/summer backdrop.

Ty leaves a huge hole in the family. How will Amy adapt to this new life, especially being a single mother?
AM: Amy is no stranger to loss. The series begins with the death of her mother and her journey forward down a new road which she must travel without Marion. It is the horses that have always grounded Amy and as she works to heal their traumas, they, in turn, heal her. When Amy loses Ty, she goes through a wide range of emotions. She is numb to it for many months, then has strong guilt for not doing more to prevent it. With Jack’s help and understanding, she accepts that it was out of her control and the best way to honour Ty is to move forward and be present for their daughter. Amy leans on what has always comforted her in times of sorrow: horses. She includes her daughter in this form of healing and together they share some beautiful moments.

What can fans expect from the new season of the show?
AM: As always, be prepared to laugh, cry and maybe throw something at your TV – perhaps all at the same time! This season is undoubtedly an emotional one, but the strength of the Heartland family coming together and the beauty of the cinematography brings so much to the hearts of the viewers who join us on this journey.

Heartland airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of Michelle Faye Fraser for Rescued Horse Season Fourteen Inc.

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Link: Rise above: How Calgary’s Seven24 Films has stayed afloat during COVID-19

From Eric Volmers of Postmedia News:

Link: Rise above: How Calgary’s Seven24 Films has stayed afloat during COVID-19
Call it the ultimate comeback story. But by the time 2020 had staggered to its merciful end, Seven24 seemed to have flicked the switch on its fortunes. Continue reading.

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New Global original series Family Law begins production March 2

From a media release:

On the heels of the Nurses Season 2 start of production release, Global proudly announced today principal photography and casting for its latest scripted original series, new legal drama Family Law. With filming beginning March 2 in Vancouver, Family Law is produced by SEVEN24 Films (Heartland, Wynonna Earp) and Lark Productions (MotiveFortunate Son), created by Canadian award-winning author Susin Nielsen (Robson Arms, Cedar Cove), with Jordan Canning (NursesSchitt’s Creek) directing the pilot episode.

Set to premiere on Global later this year, the 10-episode, one-hour drama follows a group of flawed family members who reluctantly work together at their father’s law firm in downtown Vancouver. The legal procedural stars a talented all-Canadian cast including: Jewel Staite (Firefly), as recovering alcoholic Abigail ‘Abby’ Bianchi; Victor Garber (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) as Harry Svensson, Abby’s estranged father and head of the firm; Zach Smadu (The Expanse) as Daniel Svensson, Abby’s half-brother who is displeased to be working with Abby; and Genelle Williams (The Expanse) as Lucy Svensson, Abby’s half-sister and considered dad’s favourite child. Additional casting will be announced at a later date.

Set in Vancouver, Canada, Family Law follows lawyer and recovering alcoholic Abigail ‘Abby’ Bianchi (Staite) struggling to put her career and family back together after hitting rock bottom. As a condition of her probation, Abby is forced to work at her estranged father’s (Garber) firm, Svensson and Associates, and practice in family law for the first time while forging new relationships with the half-brother (Smadu) and half-sister (Williams) whom she’s never met. The result is a dysfunctional family law firm operating to help other families with their own dysfunctions.                 

Produced by SEVEN24 Films (Heartland, Fortunate Son) and Lark Productions (MotiveFortunate Son), with Susin Nielsen (Robson Arms, Cedar Cove) serving as showrunner, Family Law is executive produced by SEVEN24′s Tom Cox and Jordy Randall, Lark’s Erin Haskett and Andy Mikita. eOne will handle distribution for the series outside of Canada.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

CBC’s Fortunate Son recalls a history that fits in the present

Being born in 1971, I didn’t know much about the Vietnam War. I learned about it through music and the movies, from First Blood to Platoon, Apocalypse Now to The Deer Hunter and countless others. But all of those films dealt largely with the U.S. angle. It turns out Canada had a role in that conflict as well.

I learned about it through Fortunate Son. Bowing on Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBC, the eight-part drama is based on the life of Tom Cox, a Canadian TV producer most recently known for his work on Heartland and Wynonna Earp.

Created and written by Andrew Wreggitt, Fortunate Son stars Kari Matchett as Ruby Howard, an American activist in Canada who isn’t merely happy with vocally protesting the Vietnam War; she does something about it. Also starring Stephen Moyer, Darren Mann, Rick Roberts, Patrick Gallagher, Ty Olsson and Kacey Rohl, Fortunate Son is as much a history lesson as it is an examination into what the world is going through today.

We spoke to writer, showrunner and executive producer Andrew Wreggitt about the project.

When Fortunate Son was first announced, the thing that jumped out at me was Tom Cox’s name because it’s based on his life. Did you know Tom before you were attached to this? 
Andrew Wreggitt: Tom and I have been colleagues for, oh, I want to say 30 years. I actually first met Tom in Calgary. We happened to be neighbours and I didn’t have any idea he was in the same business as me. We were neighbours and we got to be friends and he and I worked together on North of 60 and so we go back a long way together.

I always knew Tom’s background and he had this very interesting family and Seven24 got in touch and said that they were interested in developing a show that had to do with Tom’s background. Tom grew up in a household where his mother was an activist and she brought up the kids to make protest signs and be out there every Saturday morning protesting something or other. And they were involved in bringing draft dodgers and deserters across and helping them settle in Canada.

They were definitely a kind of a halfway house and so they were involved in that and that’s kind of how Tom grew up, in this household where they were being watched by the police and they were very active in many causes. I’ve always loved that era and that story and so we kind of took it from there and developed the idea of this show around that idea.

I can’t believe that it’s taken this long to be made.
AW: Ten years ago I don’t think you could have made this show, the way the television industry was. People were looking at different things. A period piece would have been extremely difficult to make. So in a way, it’s a story that it really required the times to be the way they are for it to, for one thing, to resonate the way it does with what’s actually going on in the world.

Some of the things that are happening politically in the world are starting to feel pretty darn familiar to things that were happening 50 years ago.

I knew virtually nothing about draft dodgers being smuggled into Canada and the danger involved.
AW: Yeah, it was a big deal. You know, the anti-war movement in the U.S. was a huge, huge political deal and there were over 30,000 draft dodgers, which is incredible when you think of it across the country. I remember in university there were … I had a teacher in high school who was a draft dodger.

There were university professors who came up. There were people that brought a whole perspective to Canada in a lot of different ways who wouldn’t have been in Canada under any other circumstances. So yeah, it was a big cultural shift in the U.S. and it had a big impact on Canada.

How much is Tom’s story and how much has been adapted? Are there characters that are a combination of people in this time period? 
AW: Well, yeah, for sure. Tom’s actual family was a bit of a jumping-off point, so I kind of made up a lot of the people around it, but it was based on, they were composites of course of what was really going on at the time. The Catholic church was obviously very involved in the U.S. in the anti-war movement and so we had our church and our priest was very, very involved in the community. It was pretty common that people came through the churches and they were very involved in as they are now bringing refugees from Syria, for example.

Did Kari Matchett audition for the role? She’s the perfect fit to be playing Ruby.
AW: She really is. When we first saw her audition, we were just blown away. She was just Ruby. She totally embodied that role and so for me, as soon as I saw her, I felt like, ‘Yeah, this was Ruby.’ And you can feel her, she’s a mom, she’s committed politically, she’s trying to hold all these things together and it’s not easy. It’s hard to be politically committed and doing stuff, especially as a woman in 1968 there were expectations of you that she certainly didn’t fit.

The music of this time period is great and really helps with the storytelling. How did you decide what songs you were going to use? I imagine maybe licensing had something to do with your choices.
AW: We knew music was going to be a big, big part of the show. You can’t say the 1960s without music coming up, so we knew that from the beginning and luckily we had a reasonable budget to bring to the table so we were able to license some songs and get some stuff. I have to admit, as I’m writing, I’m looking at these scenes thinking, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could have Magic Carpet Ride. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could have In A Gadda Da Vida’ … and of course you can’t have everything you want because there are certain limitations on music and what we can afford and can’t afford and so on. But I’m absolutely over the moon about some of the songs that we’ve gotten for the show throughout.

What type of writer are you? Are you the type that needs to shut yourself in a room? Can you do writing in a coffee shop with a cacophony of noise around you? How does it work for you?
AW: I can write just about anywhere. I made a 1968 playlist and I’ve played it a thousand times and I’ve got lots of Jimmy Hendrix, lots of my favourite tunes and so I’ll put that on and blast it away and start working, so I’m totally cool writing to music. I’m totally cool with writing in a coffee shop or. I’ve even driven across the country, my wife driving and she’ll put on a radio mystery station or something. And I’ll get in the back with my headphones on and I’ll write in the back of the car, so I’ll write anywhere.

Fortunate Son airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Production underway on Season 2 of CTV’s hit comedy Jann

From a media release:

CTV, in association with Project 10 Productions and SEVEN24 Films, announced today that production has begun on Season 2 of its hit MADE® in Canada comedy series, JANN. Filming in Calgary, Season 2 consists of eight, half-hour episodes, up from its six-episode first season.

Season 1 of the critically acclaimed comedy reigns as the most-watched Canadian comedy series of the 2018-19 broadcast year. Starring multi-platinum award-winning Canadian singer, songwriter, broadcaster, and author Jann Arden as a fictionalized version of herself, Season 2 of JANN joins CTV’s mid-season schedule in early 2020.

Guest stars confirmed for Season 2 include singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan as herself, actress Elisha Cuthbert (THE RANCH, HAPPY ENDINGS, 24, The Girl Next Door) as school board parent Liz, and singer, host, and actress Keshia Chanté (SOUL, PRIVATE EYES), as up-and-coming singer Nia Taylor.

In Season 2, Jann’s (Jann Arden) hilarious and self-deprecating, attention-drawing antics continue, as the series picks up immediately following last season’s cliffhanger finale. Viewers were left wondering whether Jann would embark on a tour or stay behind to help her mother Nora (Deborah Grover), who’s showing early signs of memory loss, and sister Max (Zoie Palmer), who was put on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail