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.
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.
There Are No Fakes is a shocking journey into the world of art fraud
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.”
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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Isabelle brings psychological terror to an idyllic neighbourhood
In a quaint New England neighbourhood, a charming young couple (Adam Brody and Amanda Crew) find the perfect home to move into. But what they find in that home complicates their dream to start a family, as darkness and paranoia emerges in director Rob Heydon’s Isabelle.
Following in the footsteps of other psychological horrors such as Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, Isabelle comes from a screenplay written by Donald Martin (Milton’s Secret). Having grown up watching genre films like The Omen and The Shining, Heydon approached the project looking to put his own stamp on psychological terror.
“Reading the script, I just got into it cold. Then once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down,” Heydon said. “I thought a lot about what other references it could be like and how I could help bring something to the story and the storytelling.”
Much like other films in the genre, Heydon’s intention for Isabelle was to emphasize the psychology of the terror as a priority. That meant slowly building up the characters and introducing new elements throughout the runtime of the film.
“In a sense, it’s trying to tell a story in three arcs and build the audience’s expectations up to the third act,” Heydon said. “We used the combination of cinematography and editing and music to bring the audience into the mind of the main character and have the audience experience what our main characters are going through.”
The strength of the cast – which includes Brody, Crew and Zoë Belkin as Isabelle – was essential given the nature of the material. Brody was the first to sign on, but other cast members took longer to materialize.
“Amanda Crew wasn’t available at the same time. So it took almost two years to put together the cast,” Heydon said. “But when their calendars lined up, we also got some amazing talent to surround them. Belkin, Sheila McCarthy, who played Isabelle’s mom… we were really lucky.”
Isabelle shot in Hamilton, Ont., with old Victorian homes posing as New England. Beyond the locale, Heydon said the cost savings attained shooting in Hamilton were significant.
“In Toronto, to rent a house for a day might be 10 or 15 thousand per day. In Hamilton, we were lucky to get three houses right next to each other for 20 days for $20,000,” he said. “You just can’t find that anywhere in Toronto.”
Having initially premiered in South Korea as part of the Busan Film Festival (along with fellow Canadian horror Lifechanger), Isabelle will now open to a larger release in Canada. Heydon said genre aficionados should find much to enjoy in Isabelle.
“I’d say read what the film’s about and check out the trailer – I think the trailer says it all. And if you’re interested, come check it out,” he said.
Isabelle begins its theatrical run in Toronto June 28 at the Carlton Cinema. For more information, click here.
Next up on The Mutt: Horror materializes in unconventional ways in Things Fall Apart
Horror materializes in unconventional ways in Things Fall Apart
Those familiar with Hussein Juma, director and writer of Things Fall Apart, know that it’s somewhat fruitless to attempt to fully summarize his work. That’s largely by design – Juma himself says he enjoys injecting ambiguity into his projects.
But more than that, what’s exciting about Juma as a director is his ability to create a sense of atmospheric dread based heavily on context and character and not cliché. So horror fans on the hunt for films that are likely to surprise should take note of what Juma says about his first feature, Things Fall Apart.
“If you like arthouse cinema, things that are going to challenge you and even scare you a little too, I think this film would be for you,” Juma says. “If you’re interested in new ways to tell stories, in indie cinema and the way it can reframe things and put them in different contexts, I think there’s a lot to think about with this film.”
That unique approach to story was evident throughout Juma’s 12-episode web series Horse Mask, a surreal horror that centres around a missing daughter, a forest and many mysterious masks. Though Things Fall Apart is Juma’s first feature, he says working on Horse Mask helped prepare him, given the fact that the runtime of that web series evens out to be around the length of a feature.
Set during a dinner party, Things Fall Apart lets audiences act as a sort of fly on the wall as tensions and emotions emerge.
“Things progressively get more tense between the characters. I think there’s a good balance — there are those moments where you’re going to feel uncomfortable, there are moments where you’re going to be scared, there are moments where you’re going to feel like, ‘What the hell is going on right now?’” Juma says.
Furthering his desire to tell a story in a fresh way, Juma says he employed improvised dialogue throughout Things Fall Apart, making up 80 per cent of the dialogue. Though actors were provided with full scripts, dialogue was written in beats that guided where conversations would go.
“When we finally selected our actors, we extensively rehearsed it multiple times. That was a really cool process,” Juma says. “I had a bare-bones, skeleton idea of where I wanted each conversation to go, but these actors got so into it and took it to interesting places. (Many times) I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s great. We have to keep that.’”
The cast, which includes Chengis Javeri (one of the leads in Horse Mask), Bobbi Goddard, Gina Lorene and more, was already familiar to Juma, giving him confidence that they would be able to pull off the improvised dialogue. Juma says surrounding himself with smart, funny people led to a number of happy accidents that made their way into the finished product.
Other times, Juma says he would play off what he knew about the actors themselves.
“If I could see even a sliver of tension between them in the real world or a sliver of something in a look that I see, I can kind of harness that in the film,” he says. “I think that worked really well in terms of when I wanted to play someone against another person. Because I worked with them before, I knew things I could whisper in their ear before a take to throw them off.”
Ultimately, Juma says he wanted to make a film that he would want to see himself. Based on his track record, it’s likely that horror fans looking for a surprising, experimental feature with strong character work will find it in Things Fall Apart.
Things Fall Apart plays June 2 at 2 p.m. at the Globe Cinema in Calgary. For more information, click here.
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