Tag Archives: Shaftesbury

Link: Don’t miss Netflix’s best horror show you’ve probably never heard of

From Paul Tassi of Forbes:

Link: Don’t miss Netflix’s best horror show you’ve probably never heard of
Slasher is a Canadian series that was picked up and branded as a Netflix original, but it has gotten little promotion for the three seasons that exist right now. What I was surprised to see was how good this series is, which was flying so under the radar I had missed it for years, even as a big horror fan. Continue reading.

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CBC’s Frankie Drake Mysteries ends after four seasons

Frankie Drake Mysteries is riding off into the sunset and will not be returning for Season 5.

The news was announced via Instagram on the stars’ Instagram pages on Sunday.

“We wanted to come on and let you guys know that, before it gets out into the world, that we have not be renewed for a Season 5,” Lauren Lee Smith announced. “We are incredibly disappointed, but we felt that it was really important for us to let you guys know. We are so incredibly grateful for the four seasons that we got to do and I know we all loved making this show.”

“I will miss the laughter that we had,” Chantel Riley said. “We laughed a lot, and that’s something I’m grateful for.”

“We’ve all gone through so many different things during these last four years, and we have all been so there for each other … this whole job was such a gift,” Matthews said.

You can watch the full announcement on Instagram.

“We can confirm that Frankie Drake Mysteries will not be continuing beyond this season,” said Christina Jennings, founder, chairman and CEO of Shaftesbury and Frankie Drake Mysteries executive producer. “We would like to thank the incredible cast and crew, and the fans for all of the love and support over the past four years. We are so proud of this show and look forward to sharing the final two episodes.”

Set in 1920s Toronto, Frankie Drake Mysteries follows the city’s only female private detectives, Frankie Drake and Trudy Clarke, as they take on the cases the police don’t want to touch. In a time of change and hopefulness, their gender is their biggest advantage as they defy expectations and rebel against convention. 

Co-created by Carol Hay and Michelle Ricci, Frankie Drake Mysteries stars Lauren Lee Smith as Frankie Drake, Chantel Riley as Trudy Clarke, Rebecca Liddiard as Mary Shaw and Sharron Matthews as Flo Chakowitz.

Frankie Drake Mysteries airs in the UK, Spain, Brazil, Central and Eastern Europe, Finland, Portugal and New Zealand.

Season 4 of Frankie Drake Mysteries wraps up Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

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AMC Networks and Shaftesbury enter into new strategic partnership, further expanding the global audience for Shaftesbury’s content

From a media release:

AMC Networks, the entertainment company behind some of the most popular and award-winning brands in television, streaming and film, and award-winning production company Shaftesbury, announced today they have entered into a new strategic partnership. Through its investment in Shaftesbury, AMC Networks will gain access to Shaftesbury’s award-winning slate and expand its content and development capabilities in Canada. Shaftesbury CEO and Chairman Christina Jennings will continue to spearhead the creative focus of the company and lead the day-to-day operational control alongside Executive Vice President, Scott Garvie. Jennings, Garvie and Shaftesbury board member Michael Levine will remain on Shaftesbury’s Board of Directors. They will be joined by two new AMC Networks directors, Harold Gronenthal, EVP of Programming and Marketing for AMC Networks International, and Matt Graham, GM of the AMC Networks-owned Acorn TV streaming service. Shaftesbury and its shareholders were advised on this strategic investment by RBC Capital Markets.

The new partnership will create growth for Shaftesbury’s existing and future slate of content across all genres, creating more opportunities for Canadian creators in front of and behind the camera. The partnership also builds on AMC Networks and Shaftesbury’s existing production relationship. Shaftesbury is the studio behind some of the biggest titles on Acorn TV, including all 14 seasons of Murdoch Mysteries. In addition to Acorn TV, AMC Networks operates the entertainment brands AMC, SundanceTV, BBC America and the fast-growing streaming services AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK.

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Hudson & Rex Showrunner Derek Schreyer: “We’re all craving connectivity in these crazy times”

In my first interview covering the third season of Hudson & Rex, I spoke to show co-stars Mayko Nguyen about how emotionally draining the season debut was. Showrunner Derek Schreyer believes he knows the reason why.

“I think these times have shown us not just how much we love our animals, but how much they love us,” he told me in an email. I agree. I certainly have spent a lot more time bugging my cat, much—I’m sure—to his chagrin. But enough about me; here is my email chat with Derek Schreyer about the challenges of running a TV series during a worldwide pandemic.

How challenging was it for you, as showrunner, to create this season during COVID-19?
Derek Schreyer: I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t much of a factor. We started rolling into Season 3 just as the world began to shut down, and the pandemic panic was at its absolute high (even though we’re actually much worse off now). Getting into a groove on a new season is challenging enough, but here was this added complexity of being forced to work on Zoom, and oh yeah, the world is burning. So those first few days were spent musing about life while figuring out the software (we use Miro to replicate a whiteboard) and all the new rhythms of a virtual room.

So yes, there were bumps. In a physical workspace, we can pace and move around and scrunch up the bad pitches (which will inevitably become ammunition). Sometimes we’d take group walks to stretch the legs or have a coffee break in a park, which is where some of the best ideas are formed. None of that possible in a virtual room, so we had to figure out new ways to spark our imagination. Complicating things further is everyone has a life, which can’t help but spill onto the zoom screen—there are the kids and the ferrets and the delivery men and the partners and the barking dogs, not to mention the technical glitches and different time zones.

But here’s the funny thing: I learned to love all that stuff. Distractions create amusing bonding moments, which can actually generate ideas. It really didn’t take our team long to gel. Of course, it’s not like we had a choice—our development window is much shorter than most one-hour shows, so we had to learn how to work together fast. That we’re not a massive room worked to our advantage, and we have a nice mix of new faces with returnees. There’s really only four of us—Vivian Lin and Joseph Milando from last season, and Sonja Bennet coming in fresh. We also had Cal Coons do the heavy-lifting on some of the earlier episodes, it would have been near impossible to slide right into Season 3 without him. And we were blessed with some strong outside writers, a number of whom have already written for the show.

And yes, COVID was certainly a factor in how we told our stories. We chose not to depict the pandemic in our fictional world, but production still had to manage it in real life, which meant fewer crowds and more two-handers and outdoor scenes. So there were definitely more barriers for the storytelling this season. But sometimes barriers breed innovation, and I’m very proud of the places we took our scripts. I honestly believe it’s our strongest season yet.

Mayko mentioned a lot more filming outdoors this season. Was this because of the pandemic, or was that just the nature of the storylines?
DS: It’s actually a bit of both. Newfoundland has some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, which is one of the reasons we now air in over 100 territories—that rugged landscape is an appealing draw for places like Italy, France, and Germany. Some of our strongest episodes from previous seasons took advantage of that. And of course, with this year and COVID, it’s just easier and safer to shoot outdoors, so we definitely leaned more that way at first.

Luckily the outdoors is a natural fit for our world, given the Rex factor. There is something appealing about a man and his dog in the wild, that Jack London call to adventure is innate and universal. One episode finds Charlie and Rex venturing deep into the forest to a small nomadic civilization living off-the-grid. Another takes place under the ocean and involves Charlie strapping on a SCUBA suit in the search for clues on the ocean bed (both ideas inspired by our star John Reardon, who is a Master SCUBA diver in real life). The point is that this season often our story obstacles came from the elements, as opposed to complex set-pieces requiring a large cast, which is true to the DNA of our show.

The one down side to shooting outdoors is that Newfoundland does not have a very long summer. That can be difficult on the actors, who sometimes have to pretend it’s warmer than it is. Watching them in some of these dailies makes me realize how incredibly devoted they are to their craft and this show. Luckily, we plan our stories according to the elements, so the last three episodes shooting in the new year feature worlds that are largely indoors.

Did you have to alter anything in the planning and/or production because of COVID-19?
DS: Absolutely, both on the page and on the floor. Production did an incredible job tapping down on COVID—employing working pods and zones, sanitizing stations, strict quarantining of out-of-province cast and crew, essential mask-wearing, and of course constant testing. All of this costs money and time, so almost every department, including Story, had to make concessions. So sometimes, if a test result wasn’t ready, we’d have to adjust a scene or write someone out. Re-inventing on the fly is not unusual during production, but COVID took it to another level.
Having said that, as crazy as it sounds, the limitations didn’t hurt the episodes. At times they even helped them. Smaller scenes can become more visceral and intimate, allowing Rex and the cast to really shine. Crowds were certainly a casualty this season, but we quickly discovered we didn’t always need them. For instance, one episode is set at a dog show. We could never replicate the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, so we developed a fictional version that felt truer to St. John’s. And we’re working on an episode involving magic, which usually involves spectacle and an audience, but the more interesting things happen behind the scenes.

I’ve told both Mayko and John that there is a groove to the first episode of this new season. It feels like everyone “gets” their characters and there is a confidence/swagger to the show. Have you felt that?
DS: Absolutely. Our four human leads really have found their groove this season, hitting new heights in clarity and depth. I strongly believe that any of them could anchor a U.S. show. But as good as they are individually, they’re even better as a team. I like to think it’s because of the brilliant writing, but it’s more likely that chemistry generates over hardship and time, and after two seasons and 32 episodes this cast has had plenty of both (epic reshoots, snowmaggedon, a pandemic … and I’m only scratching the surface!)

The other factor is, now that we’re deep into the third season, we really have figured out what makes each of these characters unique. We’re not a soapy show, and don’t go too deeply into the personal lives of our characters. So we can’t rely on shortcuts like bringing in a parent or girlfriend or brother or following anyone home (except Charlie and Rex). This means we need to define our characters through nuance in dialogue and work style. It helps that everyone works together to ensure their voices are clear and consistent, including the cast themselves.

Hudson & Rex is able to provide light and dark moments. The scene of Rex and his dead partner in the season premiere, and the closing scene at her tombstone, was emotional for me. Can you talk about the joy of bringing those moments to the screen?
DS: Our opening episode was an idea that had been kicking around for a while, but was felt too early in the series arc for an origin story. But now that 30-plus episodes have been filmed, and given how crazy 2020 has been, I cannot think of a more perfect season kicker. It’s obviously a heavy episode that deals with loyalty, loss, and renewal. Jackie May did a lovely job capturing the raw emotion, and I don’t think you’re the only one who felt moved by the episode.

In many ways, that opener is very 2020. We’re all craving connectivity in these crazy times, and that is especially true with the animals we love. My parents had to put down their German shepherd not long before COVID hit, and they’re missing that dog every day. And I had to put down my best pal Cooper, our Portuguese water dog, the day we went into lockdown. We’ve learned to appreciate the bond we have with our animal companions. For this season’s opener, we’re telling that same story, except from the dog’s POV, which is even more wrenching.

I think these times have shown us not just how much we love our animals, but how much they love us, which is why our opener packs such an emotional punch. But the ending alludes to renewal, hope, and purpose—something we all could really use these days.

Hudson & Rex airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Citytv.

Diesel and Derek image courtesy of Derek Schreyer. Show images courtesy of Rogers Media.

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