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.
CUFF 2019: Director Rob Grant on the tension (and dark comedy) of HARPOON
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 will make its Canadian premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) April 28.
The Mutt spoke with director Rob Grant prior to the film’s screening at CUFF. 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.
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 makes its Canadian premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival April 28. For tickets, click here.
Click here to read our roundup of 9 Canadian films playing at CUFF 2019.
CUFF 2019: The story behind Uwe Boll, the so-called “worst filmmaker” ever
Director of the critically-maligned video game adaptations Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead and BloodRayne, Uwe Boll has long held a unfavourable reputation in the film industry not only due to the perceived quality of his films, but also due to his antagonistic response to his online “haters.”
But a new documentary, F*** You All: The Uwe Boll Story, seeks to better understand the firebrand filmmaker, diving into Boll’s past through a series of interviews with colleagues, critics and Boll himself.
The Mutt spoke with F*** You All: The Uwe Boll Story Vancouver-based director Sean Patrick Shaul prior to the film’s Alberta premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival April 27. This interview has been edited and condensed for length.
THE MUTT: How did you first become acquainted with Uwe Boll?
SEAN PATRICK SHAUL: I first met Uwe Boll on the set of Assault on Wall Street. I worked as a crew member with him. Seeing him work was so fascinating. The way he directed was like no one I had ever seen before. He was such an interesting guy. That was almost 10 years ago and I ended up working on a TV show that was shooting in his restaurant. That was how I came across the idea for the documentary. The idea was to look at someone who is widely known as the world’s worst director. It was more asking, “Why was he considered that? How did he get that title, and whether or not he was.”
TM: As his persona on the internet developed, did that mesh with what you knew of him? Did you feel he was being portrayed in a way that was inaccurate?
SPS: I had seen some of his movies and I understood the reputation he had. He also fuelled that himself through the internet, engaging with all of these trolls and these critics. He takes it head on, which is fun to watch. But I had no idea what he would say when I pitched the documentary to him. Within five minutes, I realized we had a lot in common. He was excited about the documentary, excited to have that side told of it.
TM: How does Boll feel about being referred to as the “world’s worst director”?
SPS: He thinks it’s very unfair, which I guess I would agree with. Art is subjective, so it’s hard to say whether something is good or bad. But I think he’s also aware of the type of movies he was making. He didn’t think he was making The Godfather. He knew these were video game adaptations movies, so his expectations were low with those. But he has made more personal films (since then), but he already had this black cloud following him around. It stalled his career in that way. I thought that was really interesting – he made 32 movies, but by his fifth movie, people had already written him off.
TM: Why do you think Boll feels the need to respond to his trolls and his critics online?
SPS: I think he’s a very proud guy. He’s aware of his accomplishments and I don’t think he can let a comment like that go. If someone has the motivation to go after him online, he has the equivalent motivation to fire back at them. He hasn’t really calmed down on that too much. I think he’s currently banned from Twitter for going after trolls. It’s kind of tongue-in-cheek for him when he goes after these people. He enjoys it, he likes engaging with them. It became part of his personality. As much as it hurt his career, it also helped his career in a way.
TM: In spending time with Boll, what surprised you about him as you got to know him better?
SPS: Before, I thought he was kind of an asshole, from his online persona, I thought he was just kind of a jerk. Through meeting him, I realized he’s a super sweet guy, he’s a really, really genuinely nice guy. He cares about films, he’s a real film guy. He knows all of the classics, he’s seen all these foreign films – he’s a real cinephile. But there’s something about him not being able to pull that off. All his favourite movies are the classics, but for some reason he can’t make those films himself. He was kind of handcuffed by all these tax loopholes and funding schedules, that he would have to pump these films out in a certain timeframe to get the tax credit. There’s a lot of reasons his earlier films turned out the way they did. They didn’t turn out the way he envisioned.
TM: Given that he knew the documentary wasn’t going to be all positive, why did Boll want to participate?
SPS: I think he just wanted someone who was looking at the larger picture instead of comparing him to a Tommy Wiseau or a Ed Wood. He wanted to explain himself a bit. The articles and the small kinds of podcast interviews don’t really give him enough time to explain himself, or they ask the same five questions. Almost every headline is “world’s worst director” – I think he wanted to look at something deeper. But he wasn’t shying away from that title. I told him early on in production that we’d be definitely looking at that angle and talking about it. He was more than happy to look at it. Most people would want this buried, but he looked at it head on. “I have that title, but let’s look at why.”
F*** You All: The Uwe Boll story plays April 27 at the Calgary Underground Film Festival. For tickets, click here.
Click here to read our roundup of 9 Canadian films playing at CUFF 2019.
Acquainted takes a raw and honest look at modern love
In Acquainted, a new romantic drama from Toronto-based director Natty Zavitz, high school classmates Drew (Giacomo Gianniotti of Grey’s Anatomy) and Emma (Laysla De Oliveria of The Gifted) reunite with each other at a bar and instantly connect, discovering they share some serious chemistry. Problem is, the pair are both in serious, long-term relationships.
The script for the film was partly inspired by the deterioration of Zavitz’s last major relationship, said producer Jonathan Keltz (Entourage, Reign), who also plays Allan in the film.
“(Zavitz) sent me the script almost four years ago and I just connected so deeply and was so blown away by his script,” Keltz said. “(I was blown away) by how defined his voice was. I was completely moved by it.”
Inspired by films such as Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset trilogy, Acquainted is an honest look at relationships and adulthood, exploring the subject matter with introspection. Keltz said the film examines fidelity and infidelity from a judgement-free place.
“The characters are not villains or victims. It’s a raw and honest look at being in relationships, to have these type of things happen and how to deal with that,” he said. “The relationship with the self and the seeking to find out who you really are is really what’s crucial to the building of a relationship with somebody else.
“It’s about taking the time to do that work that puts you in the best position to be a partner with somebody and to be an adult in this world.”
Many of the cast and crew on Acquainted have worked in Toronto’s film community for years, making the set of the film a reunion of its own.
“In front of the camera and behind the camera, (the film involves all) kinds of amazing artists. It’s really a Canadian film and a Toronto film,” Keltz said. “It’s not trying to either hide that or beat you over the head with that.
“I think that’s done in a very unique way, and in a way that is both Torontonian and Canadian but also universally and commercially viable.”
Keltz said he thought the film would be emotionally affecting to audiences, offering perspective that could help to contextualize modern love and relationship.
“I think this is a really raw and honest and beautiful film about what it means to be in love, to be heartbroken, to be devastated, to be inspired and to try and build a life for yourself and figure out what that means,” Keltz said.
Acquainted is now playing at Cineplex Movies Yonge and Dundas in Toronto, International Village in Vancouver and at Landmark Cinemas nationwide.
Next up on The Mutt: With maturity and depth, An Audience of Chairs reflects on mental illness