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Broken Star tracks the psychology of validation in the social media age

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Broken Star, starring Analeigh Tipton and Tyler Labine, is a portrait of a psychological state in the social media age. Photo courtesy Jive PR and Digital
Broken Star, starring Analeigh Tipton and Tyler Labine, is a portrait of a psychological state in the social media age. Photo courtesy Jive PR and Digital.

Likes, favourites, retweets – the lasting mental effects of those notifications so ubiquitous on social media remains largely unknown, with terms like “Facebook depression” slowly making their way into the mainstream. A society built around a simulated form of validation surely has some effect on human psychology – especially on someone living in the public eye.

Broken Star, the first feature film from Dave Schwep, examines the effects of fame in the age of social media, following starlet Markey Marlowe (Analeigh Tipton), a young actress who craves to hold on to her fame through any means possible.

“You could also say it’s about an actress who is put on house arrest and connects with her landlord (Ontario’s Tyler Labine) in a unique way, where she discovers the depths of her darkness,” Schwep said. “But I would lean towards more the need to be seen and the need to be validated.”

Distributed by Cineplex Pictures, the film is Schwep’s first narrative feature, having previously directed the documentary Bo in 2012. He said he decided to tackle Broken Star as his first feature after reading the script by writer David Brant.

“We all deal with social media. People get their sense of their own identity based on what other people like – whether it’s a photo or a tweet, but none of that stuff is real. I think what people really want is to figure out who they are,” Schwep said. “We’re so lost in society when we’re constantly watching these videos that don’t really matter. None of that stuff really matters and what really matters is who we are. The character in the film is basing her identity off how other people think of her instead of how she sees herself.”

Though fame has been present in some form throughout history, celebrities and notable individuals have never had direct, constant access to audiences like they do through social platforms. Schwep said developing Broken Star in that context allowed him to make a film more “out-of-the-box” compared to traditional thrillers.

“We don’t really have a track record to see how (social media) is affecting the next generation. I think it’s fascinating to make a film right now about that,” he said. “I think it will surprise people and make them think – the film has more questions than it maybe has answers, which I think is also important, asking ourselves questions and not being fixated on answers – because, in the end, the answers change.”

Schwep said Tipton and Labine added layers to the characters, bringing their own experiences and perspectives to the film.

“(Tipton), she really dove into the role and brought out a lot of deeply disturbing and emotional and compelling drama,” Schwep said. “And Tyler Labine, he’s never really played a role anything like this before. He really delivered an alluring insight into the darkness ultimately within our society.”

Broken Star, starring Analeigh Tipton and Tyler Labine, is a portrait of a psychological state in the social media age. Photo courtesy Jive PR and Digital

Broken Star director Dave Schwep said Analeigh Tipton and Tyler Labine brought unique perspectives to their roles, evolving the characters as filming progressed. Photo courtesy Jive PR and Digital

Though Broken Star features some elements typically associated with the thriller genre, Schwep said the film was more a psychological drama, building a portrait of a psychological state.

“In this age of social media, I think anyone can relate to this topic of wanting to be seen, the toxic need for attention and validation of that attention. It’s something that plagues us all,” he said. “The film is a window into the psychology of an actor seeking out the attention of others and doing anything to keep it. It’s a dark journey within. My hope is that people will be inspired to look within themselves and be able to apply the psychology to their own lives.”

Broken Star opens in Cineplex Theatres July 20. For more information, click here.

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Schitt’s Creek to conclude after next season

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The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will conclude with its sixth and final season, star and co-creator Dan Levy announced in a statement today. Photo courtesy CBC.
The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will conclude with its sixth and final season, star and co-creator Dan Levy announced in a statement today. Photo courtesy CBC.

The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will end at the conclusion of its sixth season, series co-creator and star Dan Levy announced March 21.

“We are so grateful to have been given the time and creative freedom to tell this story in its totality, concluding with a final chapter that we had envisioned from the very beginning,” Levy said in a statement. “It’s not lost on us what a rare privilege it is in this industry to get to decide when your show should take its final bow.”

Schitt’s Creek premiered on CBC in 2015, becoming one of the network’s most successful half-hour comedies ever. The show follows the fish-out-of-water Rose family, forced to assimilate into a small town after they lose their family fortune.

Though the show’s first season received mixed reviews, it grew in regard with both fans and critics over subsequent iterations. Schitt’s Creek’s fifth season, which premiered on January 8, 2019, scored a 100 per cent “Fresh” ranking on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.

The show is also among select company among Canadian sitcoms, drawing strong viewership in the United States and elsewhere thanks to distribution on Netflix and the American Pop network. Critics have reacted favourably to recent episodes, with TV Guide’s Megan Vick writing that each season of Schitt’s Creek has “gotten better and better.”

Read Levy’s full statement below.

New episodes of Schitt’s Creek air Tuesday nights at 9/9:30 NT on CBC.

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Watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short “Animal Behaviour”

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The National Film Board of Canada is offering Canadians the opportunity to watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short film "Animal Behaviour" until the end of today. Photo courtesy NFB
The National Film Board of Canada is offering Canadians the opportunity to watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short film "Animal Behaviour" until the end of today. Photo courtesy NFB

To get prepped for the 91st Academy Awards, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is offering Canadians the chance to check out Animal Behaviour, nominated tonight in the Best Animated Short Film category.

Animal Behaviour is a new short from Alison Snowden and David Fine, who previously won an Oscar in 1994 for Bob’s Birthday. The short is the 75th Oscar nomination for the NFB, and the first short film for Snowden and Fine since Bob’s Birthday. The 91st Oscars air tonight at 8 Eastern on ABC and CTV.

Watch Animal Behaviour below (expires tonight).

Next up on The Mutt: Wynonna Earp future in doubt as Season 4 delayed

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Wynonna Earp future in doubt as Season 4 delayed

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Wynonna Earp Season 3 Episode 11/12 - "Daddy Lessons/War Paint". Photo courtesy Bell Media
Wynonna Earp Season 4 is in jeopardy, according to the The Hollywood Reporter, due to financial difficulties. Photo courtesy Space

All of a sudden, Wynonna Earp is in Purgatory.

Earpers were stunned Thursday night when executive producer and showrunner Emily Andras posted (and subsequently deleted) a tweet suggesting that fans of the show may soon have to fight for it. Another tweet, posted shortly later, took a decidedly more straight-forward approach.

Andras appeared to be responding to the news that funding for the fourth season of Wynonna Earp appeared to be on shaky ground, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter. According to THR, financial challenges faced by IDW Entertainment have stalled production on Season 4, despite the company being contractually obligated to deliver the show to Syfy.

In response to the news, Earpers took to Twitter with the hashtag #FightForWynonna, which at the time of publication was one of the top Twitter trends in Canada. Though Season 4 has yet to be officially cancelled, IDW has yet to commit to a start date for the new season.

“IDW is committed to continuing to tell the Wynonna Earp story,” the company said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Much like the fans, we are passionate about not only the series, but the comics, the characters and the overall message that the Wynonna Earp franchise carries. We are in the process of working out the details for how the Wynonna story will continue and will share new details very soon.”

Our resident Earper, Ghezal Amiri, was a big fan of Season 3, writing that the show’s season finale, entitled “War Paint”, was a “wildly emotional conclusion.” Read her recap here.

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