Tag Archives: What Would Sal Do?

Mental health remains top of mind in Season 2 of Ghost BFF

When we last saw Ghost BFF‘s Amy (Vanessa Matsui), things weren’t going well. She and Mitchell (Dan Beirne) had broken up, and she’d been haunted—literally—by Tara (Kaniehtiio Horn), Amy’s best friend who had committed suicide.

Season 2 is a struggle too.

Available on Shaftesbury’s KindaTV now, Ghost BFF reunites the two best friends—one living, one dead—for more hijinks. Created and written by Matsui, she admits to being caught off-guard by a second season renewal.

“Never did I think a second season was going to happen,” she says with a laugh. “I had to write it really fast, much faster than I did with the first season. I learned that’s a real rookie move. You should have multiple seasons in mind in case that green light keeps going.” Like the debut season, Ghost BFF digs more deeply into Amy’s struggles as she addresses unemployment, single life, unexpected challenges, and the continued grief of missing her friend.

Often, a web series doesn’t allow for a ton of character growth outside of the main player. Not so with Ghost BFF. Horn’s Tara evolves, in search of closure with her mother (Angela Asher), to help Amy heal and to gain a better understanding of her own narrative of what happened the day she died.

“I have a hard time not finding layers in the characters that I portray,” Horn says. “It’s not fun to play someone who is one-note. This is a comedy about suicide and I didn’t want the humour to come at the expense of such an intense, serious subject.” Eight PSAs accompany the new episodes, offering advice on mindfulness, depression, anxiety, boundaries and self-care. With COVID-19 continuing to wreak havoc with our lives—and many Canadians staying indoors—mental health continues to be important and talking about it even more so.

“In Season 1, Amy would use band-aid solutions to deal with her mental health,” Matsui says. “In Season 2, she isn’t wearing band-aids. She is being forced to deal with her real self, which is I think what a lot of people have had to do in this very isolating time.”

“Normalizing talking about mental health is really important,” Horn says. “I used to joke about having a glass of wine in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other. But that was my coping mechanism. I was very lost for a long time. But the pandemic has forced me to face myself. And, with things like Ghost BFF, I’ve started to talk about my mental health.”

Season 2 of Ghost BFF is available on KindaTV now.

Images courtesy of Shaftesbury.

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Bad Blood: Ryan McDonald on “pure” Reggie and his return to acting

Actor Ryan McDonald has a major role in one of Canada’s best television dramas. He plays Reggie, the sweet-natured but troubled nephew of Montreal mafia boss Declan Gardiner (Kim Coates), in Citytv mob series Bad Blood.

McDonald’s performance is compelling and deeply sympathetic, weaving an important thread of kindness and decency into a fairly dark show. But it almost didn’t happen. After the cancellation of his last TV series, the delightfully irreverent comedy What Would Sal Do?, the British Columbia native was ready to give up acting and pursue a very different career.

“I was just fed up and feeling uninspired,” he explains.

We phoned McDonald, whose other TV credits include Rookie Blue, Saving Hope and Fringe, to find out how Bad Blood helped him get his acting groove back and get a preview of this Thursday’s Reggie-heavy new episode, “Una Vita Per Una Vita,” written by Patrick Moss and directed by Jeff Renfroe.

How did you become involved in Bad Blood?
Ryan McDonald: It’s kind of a strange story. I’d actually stopped acting at the beginning of this year. I was just fed up and feeling uninspired. I’d broken my lease in Toronto and come back home to Vancouver in anticipation that the previous show I did for New Metric Media, What Would Sal Do?, was going to get a second season. And, of course, it didn’t, so I ended up sort of stranded here. And in that time period, I kind of wanted to get away. I stopped auditioning, and my agent just put me on the shelf and respected my space. I started studying counselling here in Vancouver, and I was fairly certain I was going to go down that road.

I hadn’t spoken to my agent in about four or five months, and he called me because he just wanted to catch up. In the few days it took me to get back to him, that little tiny window, [New Metric president] Mark Montefiore contacted him about a role in Bad Blood, and it was perfect timing because I was just then open to doing something. If it had happened maybe a month before that, I don’t know that I would have been interested. My mind was in a completely different place.

I didn’t read for the role of Reggie, initially. I read for [Detective Tucker, played by Eric Hicks], and I thought that that was a cool part, and it wasn’t in as many episodes. I thought, ‘Great, I’ll just do that and then come back to Vancouver and go back to school with all my acting money.’ And then they had me read for Reggie, and I thought, ‘Oh man, this is really somebody that I want to play, and actually the kind of story I want to tell.’ I got it and it went from there. And there’s no better role to kind of get me back into the business.

What is it about Reggie that made him your perfect comeback role?
RM: It was really compelling to me the idea of playing somebody who was having to start over, who didn’t really have a place in the world, a thing that he could do, a group that he fit in with. And somebody who was an adult and had grown up hard and been in prison for so long, but was really sensitive and playful and kind of the opposite of what you’d expect somebody who’d been there to be. I think the idea that Reggie is a guy who knows darkness very intimately but chooses to smile was a really beautiful thing. I love characters in general that have either conditions like Reggie’s anxiety and depression or just feelings that they’re struggling to live with. I like people that are kind of carrying around baggage. And he’s very loyal, too. Reggie is kind of a beacon of light in this season. He’s a very pure guy in a lot of ways.

Reggie and Declan haven’t known each other long, but they’ve already developed a strong bond. 
RM: Reggie sought out some sort of family while he was inside and found Declan. And he’s all he could find. And Declan is not a guy who’s ever had much family attachment. He had a pseudo-family in terms of Vito, but in terms of real, blood relations, he’s been a lone wolf as long as we’ve known him. You’ve got two guys who are really trying to connect with somebody. Declan’s trying to learn how to take care of someone and what it means to be a father figure, and Reggie is trying to find out who he actually is through the only link he has left, his family.

Speaking of their bond, at the end of the last episode, Teresa [Anna Hopkins] and Christian [Gianni Falcone] abducted Reggie to force Declan into doing business with them. Can you give us any hints about what happens to Reggie in Episode 3?
RM: I don’t think Reggie ultimately blames Declan for anything that goes on. I think in Episode 3, he has pretty unwavering trust in his uncle and a belief that this person loves him and is going to take care of him. It’s also not the first time he’s been smacked around. He’s afraid for his life, but he’s kind of been shoved from spot to spot from the moment he was born. So I think there’s a fear and a fight to survive and a desire to get back into the light, but I think Reggie’s attitude is a little bit fatalistic about the whole thing.

You worked with Kim Coates a great deal in the series. What was that like?
RM: Oh, man. I worked with him every day all summer. It was incredible. He is, besides just being a total boss and funny as hell and a legend in this country, he’s just such an actor’s actor. He’s so generous. He’s so excited to collaborate. He’s so enthusiastic about the people who came together to make this season. Right from Day 1, when I got up to Sudbury, where we started shooting, he was down to hang out and go through the script and talk about the scenes and work on things and improvise. And he wanted to improvise on that. It was just so comfortable, and it’s the way I love to work. He’s very intuitive and very relaxed.

After Bad Blood, I had a few weeks of downtime and then I went and shot the lead in a film [Canadian director Nicole Dorsey’s Black Conflux] out in Newfoundland, and it was my first time being the lead of a movie. I learned so much from him. Like how to show up to the set every day and not disappear into your own head. Stay open. Keep talking to people. Crack some jokes. Keep it light, no matter what you’re doing. And be generous; talk to the actor you’re working with. I think when I was coming up, there was always this idea that it had to be hard, like there had to be angst for it to be good. And now I’m just all about being chill and friendly, no matter what.

Bad Blood is quite a change of pace from What Would Sal Do? Do you enjoy working on dramas or comedies more?
RM: I feel a lot more at home in a story where everybody is weeping and dying, and there are moments of absurdity that you have to find funny. I find that is closer to the reality that I understand. I like drama and darkness with humour. That just seems like real life to me.

Sal was an interesting case because even though on the surface it’s a comedy and every scene is sort of built for laughs, we tried to play it like an indie film, we tried to play it as real and honest. I was disappointed in it not happening again because I thought its potential was so great. There was such an opportunity to find a different kind of energy with that show. It’s a real bummer, but it could pop up again, who knows? There’s always talk.

So far this year, you’ve done Bad Blood and shot your first lead role in a film. Does that mean you’re all in with acting, or are you still going to study counselling? 
RM: I’m pretty much back into acting right now, but I love studying counselling because it really teaches you the value of how to listen and be with the person and truly see them. And I think that’s beneficial for everybody, but as an actor especially. So I would like to go back to it, but it’s going to be some time. I’m moving back to Toronto in the new year, and we’ll see what happens then.

Bad Blood airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv.

Images courtesy of Rogers Media.

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Allarco emerges from creditor protection

From a media release:

Allarco Entertainment 2008 and Allarco Entertainment Limited Partnership (Allarco) announced today that it has successfully emerged from creditor protection, having been issued its Certificate of Plan Completion from the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta (the Court) on April 5, 2018.

In May 2016, the company sought creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) in an effort to facilitate a restructuring and refinancing of its business operations.  Since that time, Allarco has continued to operate under CCAA protection, supervised by the Court appointed monitor PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. (the Monitor). On December 13, 2017 a formal plan of arrangement or compromise (the Plan) was filed with the assistance of the Monitor.

A meeting of the affected creditors was held on January 24, 2018 where 78 creditors voted in favour for the Plan by a margin of 77-1. The Court approved and issued the sanction order to proceed with the Plan on February 16, 2018.

With the issuance of the Monitor’s Certificate of Plan Completion effective April 5, 2018, the CCAA proceedings have been completed in accordance with the Orders of the Court and under the supervision of the Monitor.

“I wish to thank our creditors sincerely for their patience and support as we worked through the CCAA process to achieve this goal,” said Don McDonald President & CEO of Super Channel. “We had to make some very difficult decisions to ensure survival of the business and for the company to remain an active participant in the Canadian broadcast industry.”

 

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Detention Adventure brings action, adventure, science and fun to young viewers

Four schoolkids get in trouble on purpose so they can explore the tunnels under their school in search of a secret laboratory that holds mysterious treasure. That’s the premise behind Detention Adventure, one of dozens of projects seeking Independent Production Fund assistance to bring Season 1 to life.

Co-created by Joe Kicak and Carmen Albano, written by Kicak, Albano and Karen Moore, executive-produced by Moore, Lauren Corber and produced by Ryan West, Detention Adventure summons Goonies, Stand By Me and the Harry Potter franchise in its tone. Legend says inventor Alexander Graham Bell built a secret lab under a school attended by three nerds. Raign (Simone Miller), Joy (Alina Prijono) and Hulk (Jack Fulton) are determined to find the entrance, which is supposed to be located somewhere in the old library that now serves as a detention room. The trio’s plan? Get into trouble, go to detention and find that entrance. The problem? Raign, Joy and Hulk have to include the school bully, Brett (Tomaso Sanelli), in their plans.

“We really tried to get at something that was more cinematic and dynamic than a studio school show,” Moore says. “The series is full of adventures in these tunnels and the scientific experiments that are part of it. This shows how exciting science can be and the adventures the kids can take.” Each 11-minute instalment of the potential 10-episode first season finds the sixth-grade students calling upon their scientific and problem-solving skills to tackle and break through a series of puzzles, traps and riddles to find the elusive lab.

Detention Adventure is a departure for Moore. Most recently a writer on decidedly adult projects like Workin’ Moms, Rookie Blue and What Would Sal Do?, she’s written and produced two BravoFACT short films in Must Kill Karl (alongside Kicak) and Your Place Or Mine, and Frozen Marbles. Moore was looking for a progression from writing shorts and felt this was a natural move. Her time in the writing room under showrunners in Catherine Reitman and Tassie Cameron has given Moore the experience to write the serialized episodes Detention Adventure boasts; she, Kicak and Albano made up the writer’s room.

“It was me telling Joe and Carmen what to do,” Moore says with a laugh. Every episode of Detention Adventure contains themes of overcoming differences, empathy, cliffhangers and a lot of fun. The potential series is aimed at 6-12-year-olds, the pre-teen audience where stories of friendship and insecurity are relatable.

“This is the time when kids are still up for more wholesome fun,” Moore says. “But they also have the tools and the independence to have some life skills to draw on and be at the level of these science experiments and problem-solving.”

Support Detention Adventure by clicking through to the show’s YouTube page and liking it! And check out more projects seeking IPF funding.

Images courtesy of Broken Compass Films.

 

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Killjoys: Old friends—and enemies—return

Last week on Killjoys, Aneela upped the ante in her upcoming battle between the Hullen and Dutch and #TeamAwesomeForce. Tara Spencer-Nairn brought a massive amount of creepy to a secondary storyline involving Fancy, and Aneela and Seyah Kendry shared a sultry smooch before Aneela destroyed the RAC stations. Yup, a lot went on last Friday night.

So, what goes on this Friday? As always, we were keen to find out, especially since Andrew De Angelis is the writer credited for “Necropolis Now,” with Samir Rehem directing. The pair teamed for De Angelis’ hilarious What Would Sal Do?—check it out on CraveTV—so I was interested in what the duo would do in the sci-fi realm.

“It was amazing,” De Angelis said during a one-on-one at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference earlier this year. “I was lucky to be able to watch two seasons of the show. It’s already so well-defined. When the relationships [between Dutch, Johnny and D’avin] are so well-defined, it’s not hard to write for them. The world is all there. We delve into some history and explore that.” Here’s what Space said with regard to an official synopsis for the instalment:

As John faces off with someone from his past, Dutch faces her own personal hell, trapped in a space elevator with a bunch of pompous Qreshis, who one by one, mysteriously begin to die.

And, as always, here are a few more tidbits to tide you over until Friday night.

Dutch fights her guilt
The deaths of the RAC members and being wrong about Banyon (and her death) are weighing heavily on Dutch when the episode begins. She’s trying her best to forget it all with the help of a bottle and D’avin is there to talk. But will she listen? D’avin is certainly known for his comic timing, but he can be serious too; that’s evident in a couple of key scenes.

Zeph!
She’s back and shares information on what’s inside the Remnant.

Alvis has re-entered the building
It feels like we haven’t seen Alvis since Episode 1 of this season—and a quick peek at IMDB—confirms it. But the monk with the startlingly chiselled abs chimes in as part of a juicy murder mystery storyline that pulls in Dutch and the Jaqobis brothers.

Louella Simms makes an appearance
With the RAC wiped out, Dutch et. al need more fighters and firepower. Cue Louella Simms (Kimberley-Sue Murray), Pawter’s sister. Now, if only Johnny can win her—and the Nine families—over and score the support they need.

Gander fights back
After being a whipping boy ever since Seyah Kendry awakened, Gander makes a strategic move against the ladies and a stunning revelation about Aneela comes to light. Samir Rehem’s direction brings a unique and effective look to a pair of scenes involving Aneela. You’ll know them when you see them.

Killjoys airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Space.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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