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Killjoys producers tease what’s on the way in Season 4

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Killjoys returned for Season 4 on July 20. The show airs Friday nights at 10 p.m. ET on Space. Photo courtesy Bell Media.
Killjoys returned for Season 4 on July 20. The show airs Friday nights at 10 p.m. ET on Space. Photo courtesy Bell Media.

On last week’s season premiere of Killjoys, “The Warrior Princess Bride,” the show took a look back to the past to explore Dutch and Johnny’s relationship with a confrontation with The Lady looming on the horizon. With Season 4 and 5 confirmed to be the series’ final chapters, new showrunner Adam Barken and executive producer Karen Troubetzkoy are in the process of unfolding the endgame of Dutch, Johnny and D’avin. Barken and Troubetzkoy spoke with The Mutt regarding Season 4, the identity of The Lady and the presence of some otherworldly female fashion in the Quad.

The Mutt: Congratulations on being renewed for Season 4 and 5. Did that announcement come as a surprise?

Adam Barken: We found out basically on the night of the finale of Season 3 that we were back. But that’s not uncommon, usually – that was usually around the time that we would make the announcement.

Karen Troubetzkoy: There was a desire to do the show, but I don’t think we found out how many, which was the big excitement. There was nail-biting on my side, Adam is playing it cool. You just don’t know, I mean you really don’t know. It’s a huge deal to get re-ordered, but to get re-ordered for 20 for two seasons is so fortunate and lucky and we’re right in the middle of it now.

AB: The chance to be able to know how you’re going to end the story is not something you get to do a lot, so we were really lucky for that.

TM: I imagine having that security helps you to be able move forward confidently in your storytelling.

AB: Yeah, what we’ve always done at the end of the seasons is go, “Well, we’re going to go out on the best cliffhanger we can and hope to god we get to come back and keep telling this story.” But if this were the end, at least it would feel like there were more adventures but we’ve closed out what we were doing in that season. This one, knowing that we’d have two seasons and we’d be able to head towards the end, we were able to come up with an even bolder ending to Season 4 that’s a real cliffhanger. So that was great.

TM: So you’re going into the endgame here – has the ending already been determined or will it reveal itself during the writing process?

AB: Michelle (Lovretta, the creator of the show), back when we were talking at the end of Season 3, (we wondered) what would be the ideal ending and Michelle already had it in her head. We spent some time before we had the order talking about what would be the best way to get there and tell that story. At one point we said, you know, the best way to do this would be if we had two seasons so we could really explore some elements of the characters and the universe we always wanted to but never had time for, and then end on a hopefully really shocking ending of the end of Season 4. Since we’ve started Season 4, we’ve had a pretty good idea of where we were going. As always in television it’s about figuring out, well that’s the endpoint? What are the bricks that we have to lay to get there? And also to stay loose enough to know that if things change on the way, we could change the ending. But to be honest, we’re still pretty much on track for what we had planned.

TM: You have a very strong fanbase online. Is it gratifying to know Killjoys has connected in that way?

KT: I have to confess that I’m not on Twitter. But Adam has a strong following and beautifully connects with the fans, as does Michelle.

AB: I think we’ve been lucky in this day and age to have the ability to have that direct connection with the fans. I’ve been very blessed to always be on shows that seem to have really kind and generous fans. I think in this day and age not all shows get that, so we’ve been really blessed on Killjoys to have the fanbase that’s not there there to kind of catch us when we trip up, but to kind of be there as cheerleaders. And then hopefully we return the good vibes by giving them a show they like but also giving them a view into how the show gets made and how we’re thinking, without giving them too many spoilers. For me, it’s a great part of the whole experience.

TM: Speaking of Killjoys fans, I took a few questions from the community to ask you. One fan in particular wanted to know where the female characters on your show were able to do their shopping for such extravagant clothing.

AB: (Laughs) This is one that Karen can answer. Karen is amazing at this.

KT: Oh yeah. That’s a combination of Michelle, who feels we should be totally free and not worry too much about continuity or even economy but should give all of our characters a fun flair. We have a great wardrobe department and we have a cast who really enjoys participating and talking about what they’re wearing. Hannah is very, very smart about what Dutch would wear and everybody works collaboratively to create those looks, and we want to have fun with it. It’s a super serious show about some things but it’s not a super serious show about fashion. We are cheeky, and that gives us a lot of liberty as well as with things like hair and continuity. We’re like, who cares? The guys are a little simpler, it’s true. We keep them simple and grounded.

TM: Many fans see sparks in the relationship between Dutch and Johnny. Any chance of anything more developing between those two characters?

AB: From the get-go, I know that for Michelle, the joy of the relationship was actually to explore a platonic friendship that stood the test of time and all the challenges they faced. Obviously, when you’ve got actors like Hannah and Aaron, they can have sparks with anything or anyone. I would say the sparks you see between them from our perspective are – it’s real love, but it’s the love of friendship. But I would say, in the kind of coy way, we’ve got two more seasons to play out. We definitely explore different aspects of their relationship that both confound and also bring them closer together.

Killjoys stars Hannah John-Kamen as Yalena "Dutch" Yardeen,Aaron Ashmore as John Andras "Johnny" Jaqobis and Luke Macfarlane as D'avin Jaqobis. Photo courtesy Bell Media.

Killjoys stars Hannah John-Kamen as Yalena “Dutch” Yardeen, Aaron Ashmore as John Andras “Johnny” Jaqobis and Luke Macfarlane as D’avin Jaqobis. Photo courtesy Bell Media.

TM: Any hints you can give fans as to the identity of The Lady?

AB: I would say that we gave a pretty big hint in Season 3 the first time we saw The Lady – she looked like Khlyen. I would say that’s a hint going forward. The Lady is an enemy of many faces and as such is unlike anybody or anything that they’ve ever faced. We’ve had a lot of fun playing around with all of those fun sci-fi tropes. The final big bad is somebody who is unlike anybody they’ve ever faced before. In Season 4, I’d say we explore one aspect of that and I’d say in Season 5, we get to explore another type of thing, which I’m super excited about.

KT: I think it’s surprising, the places we’ve landed. I’m really excited for people to see it. We knew there would be a Lady, and that’s always daunting for us internally. We’ve come to a place I’d say I’m really pleased with and I didn’t expect for us to get here organically. I can’t wait for people to see the rest of the season.

AB: She’s definitely unlike any villain they’ve faced and to be honest unlike a villain I’ve seen before on TV.

TM: What else are you both excited for in Killjoys Season 4?

KT: I’m most excited about the emotional place we leave things at the end of the season and the fact that we get to follow them through in Season 5. It’s the most delicious thing – it’s not your usual cliffhanger, and that’s what makes it fun. It only could be done if you knew you were getting another season.

AB: For me, particularly in Season 4 – it’s a bit in the rear-view mirror now – when we left Season 3 we had Delle Sayah carrying the child of D’avin and Aneela. And you know, he was obviously growing pretty quickly in the belly. I think – without giving away too many spoilers – where that goes and what that does to D’avin and Dutch and Johnny, but in particular what it does to D’avin in terms of who he is and the new kind of role as a father and a parent. Especially considering the backstory that we set up in terms of how he and Johnny were raised. That was something that was really exciting to explore when we were writing Season 4. It ended up in ways that I was really, really pleased with. I can’t wait for the audience to see that personal side of D’avin. It’s a lot of fun.

The fourth season of Killjoys airs Friday nights at 10 p.m. ET on Space.

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Honey Bee is a revealing look at human trafficking in Canada

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Honey Bee, directed by Rama Rau, stars Julia Sarah Stone as an underage truck stop sex-worker on a journey of survival.
Honey Bee, directed by Rama Rau, stars Julia Sarah Stone as an underage truck stop sex-worker on a journey of survival. Photo courtesy A71 Entertainment

Honey Bee director Rama Rau may be known to Canadian audiences mostly due to her acclaimed work in documentary, including League of Exotique Dancers (2015) and No Place to Hide (2015) – the former profiling aging burlesque dancers and the latter taking a focus on the world of cyberbullying.

But though Honey Bee marks Rau’s narrative feature debut, her instincts honed in documentary filmmaking remain essential, as much of the film is shot as though it were a documentary feature.

“I think that was key in telling the story, for me,” Rau said. “The actors were never acting – they were always in that state.”

Much of the film’s dramatic power is supplied by lead actress Julia Sarah Stone, who plays Natalie, an underage truck stop sex-worker on a journey of survival.

“She was literally the crux of the film. She was everything,” Rau said. “When I saw her audition, and I looked at a lot of auditions, I really wanted her to be in my film.”

Rau spoke with The Mutt about Stone, transitioning from documentary filmmaking and the too-infrequently discussed prevalence of human trafficking in Canada. This interview has been edited and condensed for length.

THE MUTT: So tell me about Honey Bee.

RAMA RAU: It’s about a girl groomed from the foster home system and put into a human trafficking ring. She thinks the person grooming her is her boyfriend. That’s how they get young girls from the foster care system in Canada. Then, she’s caught in a police raid and sent to a farm and the movie really begins there, her coming to terms with what has happened. A lot of it is her finding herself.

TM: What were your first thoughts when you initially read the script?

RR: I was a bit shocked, to be honest. I was stunned that these things happen in Canada. I wondered if I wanted this to be my debut feature. But it’s never frightened me to go into the underbelly of society. But films have the power to open up areas that we don’t normally talk about. I also said as a woman director I can bring a certain perspective to it. And I found my way into the story, and said, “This is how I’m going to do it, and if you’re OK with it, I’m happy to work on this film.”

TM: What were those specific elements you wanted to bring to the film?

RR: I knew I wanted it to be totally told from the perspective of Natalie, from her POV. I knew I wanted it to be a very personal film. In documentary, we use handheld cameras a lot. We literally run behind our characters. I wanted that sense of urgency in this film. We kind of blurred the lines between fiction and fact. I wanted to go so deep into the story, so the audience never knows, “Is this a real story, or is this a person acting? Does this really happen in Canada?”  [There was a scene where] and we ran behind [Natalie] like we were a camera crew.

TM: This film is obviously so based on character and Natalie’s experience. Do you think approaching things with that documentary mentality, did that help you capture small character moments?

RR: Yes, absolutely. I think that was key in telling the story. For me, the actors were never acting, they were always in that state. I encouraged them to be that way for as long as we were filming. I think they really took that to heart. They really lived their characters, and that was so rewarding for the camera because the camera picked up every little twitch of the cheek and movement of the eyebrow. I think that really lent to the authenticity. I even told Ryan (Steven Love), I want you to not talk too much to the women and I want them to hate you by the end of the film. So it’s really beyond method acting, it’s really living and being that character for that period of time.

TM: Having someone capable in the lead is obviously very important, because you need someone who is able to deliver that authenticity. How important was it having Stone in that role?

RR: Oh my god, she was literally the crux of the film. She was everything. I know she did so much research. I think she really carries the film on her shoulders. That’s why I had to choose such a strong actor like Martha to offset Julia’s stunning performance. I got so lucky in getting such great actors. God knows what I would have done if Julia wouldn’t have been able to deliver, because the film is totally based on every nuance of her face.

TM: Why would you recommend people check out the film?

RR: I think human trafficking in Ontario is not talked about enough. I think people watching this film will find a way into thinking about it. It’s not a news item. It’s more of a story of a girl who has been through the sex trade and has been bartered like a piece of furniture. I think we need to give these girls a voice. Since documentaries on these subjects can’t be made because it brings a lot of danger to their lives, these sort of films based on social issues is what opens up peoples’ minds to these sorts of issues. That’s why I think this film is crucial for people to watch if we have to tackle things like human trafficking in Ontario.

Honey Bee opened in select theatres on Sept. 20 and will be available on Video on Demand on Dec. 10.

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Director Rob Grant on the tension (and dark comedy) of HARPOON

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From director Rob Grant (Mon Ami, Fake Blood), Harpoon will make its Canadian premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival. Photo courtesy CUFF
From director Rob Grant (Mon Ami, Fake Blood), Harpoon will make its Canadian premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival April 28. Photo courtesy CUFF

Adrift on the seas on a luxury yacht, three friends find themselves stranded without food or supplies and quickly realize their survival is less than assured. An official selection at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2019, Harpoon made its Canadian premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) April 28. The film will release on VOD in Canada on October 15.

The Mutt spoke with director Rob Grant prior to the film’s screening at CUFF 2019. This interview has been edited and condensed for length.

THE MUTT: Can you tell me a bit about the genesis of Harpoon?

ROB GRANT: I had a great relationship with my producers (Knuckleball director Michael Peterson and Kurtis Harder) from a film called Fake Blood. I pitched Mr. Peterson on this idea that was a mix between Polanski’s Knife on the Water but by way of Seinfeld characters on the boat. I grew up in Vancouver, and the original idea was, “Well, I spent a lot of time on a boat, we could go take a boat out to the ocean and try to isolate ourselves out there.” Once a budget came into play and the idea grew, suddenly we were shooting the interiors of the boat in a set in the middle of freezing winter in Calgary, and shooting the exteriors on a boat in tropical Belize down south.

TM: Was it difficult for you to balance those comedic elements and still find a way to ratchet up the tension?

RG: It was very difficult, and there were a lot of discussions about that. When you have to give the elevator pitch, you have to say: “This is the genre and this is what it means.” But I subscribe to the logic that in life you can feel in one moment that you’re in a love story and the next minute in a horror movie, and that’s the way real life actually works. But it seems a little more rigid in movies. We were aware of potentially disrupting viewers’ experiences of watching the movie. (We thought) a movie could, or should, be multiple things at once. We’re willing to accept that there’s going to be some audience members that are going to reject that as a movie experience, but we wanted to try it.

Harpoon director Rob Grant said premiering the film at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2019 was a very validating experience. Photo courtesy CUFF

Harpoon director Rob Grant said premiering the film at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2019 was a very validating experience. Photo courtesy CUFF

TM: Can you tell me more about those influences you mentioned? I’m curious about how you mixed something like Seinfeld with more traditional thriller elements.

RG: Hitchcock’s Lifeboat was definitely in there, as well as Polanski’s Knife in the Water. But I had to still find the dark humour in it, and Seinfeld came up specifically because as much as we all find the Seinfeld characters enduring, they’re very much in it for themselves. They’re worried about their own outcomes. So I tried to use a lot of that. As much as these people like to say they’re looking out for each other, the second it becomes a survival story they’re all kind of in it for themselves. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia was another one, not only for mixing drama and humour, but definitely because the narration was less focused. It sets up what’s going to happen without speaking to much on the nose about what you’re about to see.

TM: I understand there’s some great gore and effects in Harpoon. What was your approach to that, and what effect do you think that has? 

RG: I’ve explored the effects of violence in cinema with Fake Blood, and this was an extension of that. The entire movie, these people speak very casually and aloof about the things that potentially will need to be done without actually considering what that entails until suddenly when it happens. I felt like it would be a good idea to make sure that was extremely violent and horrible, not only because we’ve been teasing up to this moment, but I do believe there’s a certain element that people do not consider the actual realities of having to do something like that. So it’s very shocking, very brutal, it’s like, “ha ha ha this was all funny to discuss” and now that it’s happened it sucks the wind out of you. That was a very intentional decision.

TM: What do you think Harpoon does in a unique way when compared to other similar films? What do you hope the audience walks away with?

RG: I hope when people leave the cinema that it wasn’t the movie they were expecting, that it was a little bit of a different take. I do think it’ll challenge them depending what their expectations are. I just hope they’re expecting something interesting in the genre, and that they’re along for the ride.

Harpoon will be released on VOD in Canada on October 15.

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There Are No Fakes is a shocking journey into the world of art fraud

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Directed by Jamie Kastner, There Are No Fakes is a shocking feature-length documentary that centres on the work of Norval Morrisseau. Photo courtesy Cave 7 Productions
Directed by Jamie Kastner, There Are No Fakes is a shocking feature-length documentary that centres on the work of Norval Morrisseau. Photo courtesy Cave 7 Productions

Some of the best documentaries of the past two decades involve hard left turns – films that begin in one direction but end in another due to events that unfolded during production. There Are No Fakes, directed by Jamie Kastner, joins that select company of documentary as its comedic opening slowly morphs into something much darker.

There Are No Fakes centers on the work of Norval Morrisseau, the Indigenous Canadian artist of the Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation, sometimes referred to as the “Picasso of the North”. Morrisseau, who died in 2007, sought to remove forgeries of his art from the marketplace, establishing the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society in 2005.

After Kevin Hearn (of Barenaked Ladies fame) buys one of Morrisseau’s paintings, he starts to doubt its authenticity and discovers a bizarre feud consolidated around Morrisseau. It’s this conflict, and the dark secrets hidden beneath it, that form the backdrop of There Are No Fakes.

Kastner (The Secret Disco Revolution, Free Trade Is Killing My Mother), who was friends with Hearn in high school, learned through conversation about Hearn’s ongoing lawsuit surrounding the Morrisseau paintings. It became clear to Kastner that such a story would be perfect for his next project.

“It was almost unbelievable. There was so much crazy stuff in this story, I couldn’t quite believe it,” Kastner said. “I told him if I was going to proceed with it, though we were friends he would have no editorial control. As a journalist, I would be talking to both sides, and he agreed.

“I went off on my own doing my own kind of digging and research. Lo and behold, everything he told me and then some turned out to be the case.”

Norval Morrisseau of the Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation was sometimes referred to as the "Picasso of the North". Photo courtesy Cave 7 Productions

Norval Morrisseau of the Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation was sometimes referred to as the “Picasso of the North”. Photo courtesy Cave 7 Productions

As the story unfolded and as Kastner continued to meet a succession of larger-than-life characters, he found himself shocked at what he uncovered. Bringing footage back to his editor provoked a similar reaction.

“He’d say, ‘Holy f***!’ Then I’d do another one, and he’s quite an even-keeled guy, and he’d say ‘holy f***,’” Kastner said. “So it was a series of ‘holy f***’ moments. I tried to recreate that experience for the audience.”

Documentaries can often unfold much as expected, with a known story dictating the outcome of the production. But given the fluid situation surrounding the events of There Are No Fakes, Kastner followed the story as it led him, knowing he had been handed an incredible gift.

“It’s definitely a privilege and a responsibility (to tell this story). You’re dealing with the legacy of one of our most important artists,” he said. “You wind up dealing with very serious issues of abuse of different kinds, so I felt a real responsibility.

“You have to handle it very carefully as a documentary filmmaker. It really is so unique and unusual and special and horrific and inspiring and a whole range of things that you don’t usually get in one film.”

There Are No Fakes made its world premiere at Hot Docs 2019, receiving highly positive reviews. Kastner said the film provided fascinating insight into the legacy of Morrisseau, touching on multiple problems still at play in Canada.

“It’s a very dramatic story. People can’t believe that they’re real people. They seem like characters out of some HBO series or something,” Kastner said. “I think it’s a very entertaining, edge of your seat, jaw-dropping type of story that happens to be a documentary.”

There Are No Fakes will screen at multiple locations throughout Canada in July 2019. For more information, click here.

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