Tag Archives: Slasher: Solstice

Slasher: Flesh & Blood’s Paula Brancati: “It’s very rare that you get to come back and work with people that you trust again and again”

If you’re a fan of the Slasher franchise, you’re already aware of the unique casting around it. There are, from season to season, a handful of actors who check in, usually playing very different characters from the seasons before. That’s certainly the case for Paula Brancati, who returns to Slasher: Flesh & Blood playing a very different role from Violet, the social media addict on Slasher: Solstice.

On Flesh & Blood, airing Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Hollywood Suite, Brancati portrays Christy, who has married into the Galloway family, a group currently battling each other for the family fortune while dodging a killer called The Gentleman.

We spoke to Brancati, who is currently prepping her first project as a director with Junior’s Giant, written by Deb McGrath, about her experiences this season.

When Aaron Martin and Ian Carpenter reach out to you and say they’ve got you in mind for a new season of Slasher, are you all in no matter what?
Paula Brancati: Oh, yeah. It’s no question. I love them as people and as creators. And it generally starts with Aaron and Ian and I over a Bellini at Milestones, which is where we like to take our creative meetings. And they often lead with one of our more graphic scenes. They’ll tell me something wild that they’re thinking of for the character. So the pitches are always so colourful. And it’s a very easy yes for me.

It’s very rare that you get to come back and work with people that you trust again and again, who keep writing for you and continue to challenge you as an actor. Because I think, a lot of times, with the Slasher series, I get to come back and act in roles that I don’t think I necessarily would be auditioning for. So they see something, I think, in all their casting choices. They really trust their actors and push them. Christy, this season, cannot be more different from Violet in Solstice.

From the first two episodes that I have seen, Christy is more low-key, part of a somewhat dysfunctional family unit. So what was it like playing her?
PB: I really loved Christy from the get-go. It was the first time I was playing a mother. And [director] Adam [MacDonald] and I, who are old friends and worked together last season as well, of course, we had really great conversations about her early on.

She is levelheaded. But as you can imagine with this show, nothing is ever what it seems. And a lot unravels very quickly. We talked a lot about Jennifer Lawrence’s character in Mother. That was somebody that Adam really took to early on as a reference for Christy. And I think we really held onto that, because I think she is this sort of grounding centre, and she really operates as eyes in for the audience. She really is a moral compass. And I think she’s fully aware of the dysfunction of the Galloways and has been married into that family for so long. But as you might have been able to see from the first two episodes, if you aren’t a blood relative, you are never fully accepted. And even when you are a blood relative, nothing is off bounds with those family members.

You said something interesting about talking to Adam about Christy. Do you like to do that with your characters, talk them out with the director? Or is that the case of you’ve known Adam, and so there’s that comfort level?
PB: That’s such a good question. I love working with all kinds of directors and really love to kind of adapt to what their process is too. But I think what’s really special about Slasher and about Adam as a director is that he’s taking on something that really is Herculean. His relationship with Ian and what they bring in leading that set is really special.

We are block shooting all eight episodes out of order for many months. So we do have the advantage of coming in with all the scripts prepared and arching that together. And I know Adam, we just love every character so much and have a full life for them. So I know that he spoke to everybody really, about different references I think. And that is the joy of the show. It really is. It feels like we’re building it all together.

And then add to that, the chemistry of the cast that doesn’t get to meet—unless we’ve known each other previously, we don’t get to meet before we start shooting. So a lot sort of evolves on the floor as well. And especially in some of those bigger group scenes, which you’ll see a lot more of in this season until people start dying. We are all sort of together a lot and absorbing a lot of the madness together. And I think Adam is so great at seeing what chemistry pops up on the day and really running with that.

I’ve really enjoyed the big, family meeting scenes. As an actor, do you like that too, the bigger the group, the more people to play with in one spot?
PB: I love it. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and I feel like I should be more jaded or something, but I do really enjoy it all. I do. I really relish in some of our quieter, two-hander moments myself and Breton [Lalama], myself and Chris Jacot got to do some stuff in the first couple of episodes together that was on the sort of more intimate side. And I love acting opposite those two actors and opposite our entire cast.

And then something like a big dinner scene, where we’re all sparring, and David Cronenberg is at the centre. Those are so exciting to me. And I think it does feel like theatre. I find those really long scenes, where the pace is quicker, and we’re jumping on top of each other, I find it really thrilling. I like it when I feel a little nervous and have butterflies for the scenes that we’re doing, which I think happens a lot on our show, because we are doing scenes that are pitched very high, and the stakes are very high. So that’s kind of the thrill of it as well.

With this cast of familiar faces, if I start crossing faces off the list, and I haven’t seen a particular face yet, am I on the right track as to who’s behind that mask? Or do you think I’m going to be surprised?
PB: I see what you’re saying there. Very tricky way of wording it there, Greg. I will say, that I was very surprised.

I scare easily, but I tend to be inherently suspicious, so I love a whodunit. Every season, you have a cast of characters that are all so, so rich. I would watch shows about all these characters, honestly, on their own. So we have all these people in one room now, all these characters that have very full lives, that all have a lot of secrets. And I think once those secrets come undone, you’ll see that it really could be anyone behind that mask. And also, you can’t really predict what these characters are going to do to each other. And I think that’s actually possibly even more terrifying, honestly.

Slasher: Flesh & Blood airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Hollywood Suite.

Featured image courtesy of Salvatore Antonio. Series images courtesy of Cole Burston.

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Slasher: Aaron Martin and Ian Carpenter preview Flesh & Blood

There are several new faces added to the cast of the new season of Slasher. Dubbed Flesh & Blood for Season 4, the blood-soaked horror anthology series created by Aaron Martin boasts perhaps the biggest name in the genre: David Cronenberg.

The actor and director jumped at the chance to play Spencer Galloway, a manipulative businessman who gathers his family together to compete in a deadly game, with the winner to be declared sole inheritor of his fortune.

Alongside familiar Slasher faces playing different characters fighting for Spencer’s fortune are Paula Brancati, Jefferson Brown, Patrice Goodman, Sabrina Grdevich and Christopher Jacot are new faces in Rachael Crawford, Jeananne Goosen and Alex Ozerov. We spoke to creator Aaron Martin and showrunner Ian Carpenter about how the new season—kicking off Monday at 9 p.m. ET on Hollywood Suite—came about.

Ian, how did the writing room work for Slasher: Flesh & Blood?
Ian Carpenter: Aaron and I were in the writing room, and we did all of that on my porch. When we started the show, we were in the heart of [the pandemic]. One of the very first [times writing] was when I took one of the last flights around when I visited him in Vancouver to kind of gestate all of this. We did it all in person, and I don’t know of a writer that doesn’t think that’s essential. There is something about a Zoom meeting that puts pregnancy on every single second and all of this pressure for it to be loaded. Aaron and I are very productive, and I bet 50 percent of [writing] it is us being idiots and cracking jokes. I just feel so strange via Zoom.

Aaron, did you have multiple seasons in mind when Season 1 of Slasher was conceived or was it more organic?
AM: It’s been more organic. There have been ideas for locations or settings or backgrounds for seasons. Every season is a new thing and, usually, it starts with a theme or an issue. [Flesh & Blood] came about because Shaftesbury and, I think Shudder had already come on board, said we could develop it. I had just spent the Christmas holidays with my family. I love them, but by the time I was done, I wanted to kill a few of them. I think that’s when I said to Ian, ‘What if we did a family reunion where they actually get to kill each other?’ That’s how we approach every season. Season 3, Solstice, [was inspired by Justine Sacco] who tweeted something she thought was funny and was horribly offensive, and by the time she landed 12 hours later, it had blown up and ruined her life.

Because the show isn’t killings every five minutes, we need the stuff to build around, the thematic stuff and dramatic stuff is how we do that.

One of the things I love about Slasher is the dialogue is so believable. Aaron, is it difficult to write dialogue?
AM: I don’t think so. I think, in my scripts if you go back to Degrassi and definitely Being Erica, I never try to do dialogue that is cool and flippant. I write how I think people talk. And then, when I’ve finished a script I’ll go back and read it and if I’m stumbling over words or it doesn’t seem real, I’ll change it.

Ian, Adam MacDonald returned to direct Slasher: Flesh & Blood. You have known each other for years. Do you two have a shorthand, where there’s not a lot of discussions? Do you each know what the other is thinking?
IC: I’m really fortunate that Adam and I were close friends before Slasher started. Incredibly, we were both hired within weeks of each other on Solstice. This season, we felt absolute confidence in each other, what we were going to do, what we were strong at, what we needed to talk about. It is shorthand with him, just as it is shorthand with Aaron. It lets you focus on what matters, which is also important when it comes to hiring key creatives on a crew. We’re so lucky to have so many of ours come back.

Aaron, having so many cast and crew return to the Slasher family season to season must be very fulfilling.
AM: The great thing about working in Canada is that it’s a small community, and that’s great because it’s of that. I love actors and I love bringing back actors, for this show especially, because it’s a great opportunity for them to show different facets of themselves. It is a great feeling to have them respond that way, and you want them to.

Ian, what was it like to have David Cronenberg as part of the cast this season?
IC: He was amazing. He was so complimentary, so excited about the material and really saw the depth in it. He is so crucial to the story, so it was exciting to hear how he was connecting to that. And then, as much as we are this scrappy little show, David Cronenberg has said, ‘Yes, I want to be on this show.’

Slasher: Flesh & Blood airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Hollywood Suite.

Images courtesy of Cole Burston.

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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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Slasher: Solstice’s Paula Brancati reflects on playing Violet

When I last spoke to Paula Brancati, it was at the end of a bug-infested day near Orangeville, Ont., on the set of Slasher: Guilty Party, where she played a character named Dawn.

Now Brancati is back—along with several of her Guilty Party co-stars—in Slasher: Solstice, the third season in the franchise created by Aaron Martin. Slasher: Solstice keeps the franchise’s cast intact by reuniting several actors from past seasons in Dean McDermott, Joanna Vannicola, Brancati, Erin Karpluk, Jim Watson, Jefferson Brown and Paulino Nunes with new faces in Baraka Rahmani, Lisa Berry, Mercedes Morris and Salvatore Antonio.

And, like the franchise, Solstice meets up with these characters as awful things happen in present-day to match a truly terrible occurrence in the past. We spoke to Brancati about playing Violet.

It’s exciting times for everybody, thanks to Netflix. The reach for a Canadian series like Slasher is worldwide instantly.
Paula Brancati: It’s really exciting, I think, especially with something like Slasher where it’s an anthology, and so each season really has its own identity, and they feel like they can have their very unique stamp on them, each shot by a different director. I feel like we’re doing something new every year with the show. I’m overwhelmed in the best way with how big the reach is, and I always forget how many people can actually access the show and watch it in perpetuity, all over the world. It’s mind-blowing, and the response has been super-positive.

What I like about the Slasher franchise and what Aaron started is that, yes, it’s a horror anthology. Yes, there are gory deaths, but the deaths mean something, and there’s emotion attached to these characters.
PB: I completely agree with you. I think the reason I was so delighted when Aaron came to me with this in Season 2 with that character was that I’d never worked in horror before. I think I had certain ideas about what the genre was like. I was pretty thrilled to see that in Season 2, and then in Season 3 as well, that the characters don’t fulfil these horror movie tropes in the same way.

I would be delighted to watch a show with any one of these characters leading it. To get to have so many complex characters, to see such an incredible, diverse cast that looks like the city we’re actually in, that has female characters that are so complicated and so exciting, I think that that’s what the show does really well, and then horror is just another element to it. It makes me very proud to be a part of this particular horror franchise.

A woman screams while crouching over a dead body.Violet thinks she’s helping. She’s a lonely character, and there’s definitely some sadness to her because the only real connection that she feels is with this anonymous group of people that watch her videos.
PB: I ingested a lot of YouTuber footage before bed, and I would leave the Kardashians on in the background because I think they aesthetically for her are a huge influence, as they are for a lot of millennials. I think she wishes she was Nancy Grace, too. She’s listened to Serial over and over again. She watches and listens to, I think, current things, and probably would also be very dated in some of her references. It was a lot of fun to build her from the outside in as well, and play with her voice.

She’s so much fun. There are so many directions you can take it in. [Director] Adam [MacDonald] was very clear about wanting to make sure it felt very much like a real person. I think that’s the danger with someone like that, with a character like that is I was worried that maybe people wouldn’t believe that she exists on this planet. I think from the response we’ve been getting, people seem to know her well. I don’t know if that’s frightening or not, but it’s what they’re saying.

The other thing that struck me was this relationship between Joe and Angel, obviously, but also Angel, Joe, and Violet. It was a complicated relationship between the three of them. I thought it was really well written, really well done, and didn’t feel forced in the middle of a show where people are being killed off every episode either.
PB: Thanks for saying that. I agree with you. I think it was so well written, and it’s a real testament to the writers. Somehow amidst this 24-hour crazy killing spree, it felt so honest. I think that’s also a testament to Ilan Muallem and to Salvatore Antonio, who played Joe and Angel, respectively, because you really feel right away when you meet them, you feel like you’re right in something.

A figure dressed in black faces the camera.I think Ilan does such a nice job. I really feel like he absolutely had a real love for Violet and that they probably did have so much fun for a very long time. She’s in a whole other planet really, really far away from him. Those scenes behind, you know that door? There’s a scene where he’s locked her into the bathroom. That stuff was really exciting and very challenging to shoot. I found that stuff really very like it pushed us in directions with each other. I really think Adam, again, treads a really great line of keeping everything energetic but also feeling really real.

I think those things can go off the rails if you don’t have a director who’s really tasteful. I felt really in very, very good hands.

What are you working on now? Do you and Michael Seater still have your production company?
PB: Yeah. We do. We’re developing a couple of TV things. I went off to Italy and shot a feature that I produced and was in, called From the Vine. Wendy Crewson played my mom in it. Joe Pantoliano is the lead and it was directed by Sean Cisterna. We’re just finishing post-production on that right now. There’s a sci-fi feature that’s doing a festival run that I was a lead in with Erin Berry, who was one of our producers on Slasher, called Majic. Paulino Nunes is in it. That’s doing a festival run right now.

Slasher: Solstice is on Netflix now.

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Ian Carpenter lives his dream showrunning Netflix’s Slasher: Solstice

Ian Carpenter was convinced Aaron Martin didn’t like his writing style. Yes, Martin—the showrunner behind series like Degrassi: The Next Generation, The Best Years and Saving Hope—had hired Carpenter to work on Being Erica, but since then … nothing.

“He and I would meet for a work day in a café and I would ask him what he was working on, and he would tell me about this great thing and all of the great writers he had in the room with him,” Carpenter says with a laugh. “I hit a point when I said to myself, ‘Well, maybe he doesn’t like my writing.'” It turns out the right project hadn’t come along. Until now.

Slasher: Solstice is the third season of the franchise created by Martin—it’s available on Netflix now—and Carpenter is on board not just as a writer but showrunner too. Martin’s latest creation, Another Life starring Katee Sackhoff, had been greenlit by Netflix meaning he wasn’t available to handle Solstice. Enter Carpenter, horror fanboy.

“Every meeting that I was having with anyone, when they asked me what I wanted to work on it was horror,” he says. “That’s all I want to do for the next many years.”

Slasher: Solstice keeps the franchise’s cast intact by reuniting several actors from past seasons in Dean McDermott, Joanna Vannicola, Paula Brancati, Erin Karpluk, Jim Watson, Jefferson Brown and Paulino Nunes with new faces in Baraka Rahmani, Lisa Berry, Mercedes Morris and Salvatore Antonio. And, like the franchise, Solstice meets up with these characters as awful things happen in present-day to match a truly terrible occurrence in the past.

We spoke to Ian Carpenter about his dream gig.

How did the writing for this season come about?
Ian Carpenter: Aaron had pitched the season, it had been approved and he had written an amazing pilot that is, for the most part, entirely there. If I changed anything, it was maybe five per cent. Thirteen out of the 15 characters were there and he knew who [was behind the crimes] and the whole arc down the line. He had the tent poles worked out and then we sat down and broke the next four episodes. And then, once he became unavailable, I broke the remaining four with a writer named Matt MacLennan. At all times I was, of course, running things by Aaron. There were a couple of massive twists that I sent to him and got super-excited responses back. It was so much fun to freak out the creator.

Can an eagle-eyed viewer spot the person or people behind this during the season?
IC: I didn’t encounter anyone that had picked it out and wasn’t floored by the story. But, as a guy who has spent a lot of time with the episodes, I’m pleased with how much it is seeded in there. Like, ‘Oh my god, when this person is saying this, really this is going on.’

A woman screams while crouching over a dead body.A big part of Slasher’s storytelling is through flashback. I noticed this goes back as far as 20 years. It that the furthest?
IC: I think so. I’m obsessed with the emotional weight of everything and I want us to mourn the characters who die. As I’ve been working on this I’ve come to realize how much I want there to be hope, positivity or light in the show. In this season, as it is in past seasons, is that the deaths mean something. It’s not a nihilistic lopping off of people’s heads all over the place for no reason. For sure, there are a couple of characters people want to see die and probably celebrate their end, but at all times I want to feel the weight of what’s happening.

Adam MacDonald directed all of Solstice’s episodes. What was it like working with him?
IC: We’ve been friends for, I think, something like 20 years. I was hired maybe two weeks before Adam was and they were pursuing him ahead of time so it was just bizarre, amazing luck that we were on it together. We were close then and we are way more close now. I would put his work up against anyone’s. It’s so incredible. I have never worked with a director who has a more visceral connection to the camera. I love the expressiveness of the camera and he has done something that really stands out in the genre and on TV.

The apartment building serves as the main focal point for much of the action and story. Was it always the intention to have that claustrophobic feel?
IC: Aaron was riffing off the case in New York City where the woman was murdered in front of her apartment building and people watched but did nothing. We wanted to spin around that and I loved the claustrophobia of it, and of people brushing up against each other, getting in each other’s business and driving each other crazy. And it makes those moments where you leave the building extra special.

You not only have a diverse cast but you don’t shy away from storylines containing xenophobia, hatred, inclusion or acceptance.
IC: It’s a huge part of everything Aaron has ever done and I’m the same way. I wanted to make it carte blanche across the board and I feel like it led us to discover some really exciting talent. And, it’s a big part of some of the themes this season. Netflix was totally into that and was a big part of this season’s pitch. It’s fun to tell those stories right now because it’s so important. A lot of hard work went into not making it simplistic.

Slasher: Solstice is streaming on Netflix now.

Images courtesy of Shaftesbury.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail