2012 Articles and Interviews

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Sanctuary‘s long hiatus: Is it permanent?

As a general rule of thumb in the television industry, by the time you’ve aired the last episode produced of your series, you generally know the fate of said series. You either know you’ve been canceled and the series run is done, or you get a half or full-season order and actively begin work on a new batch of episodes. The decision on which way things go is generally known prior to the final episode airing or very shortly thereafter.

Unfortunately, that is the farthest thing from the case for a series near and dear to the hearts of many Stargate fans and genre TV watchers in general. More than four months after airing its last episode, the fate of the Syfy series Sanctuary is still in limbo, with its creative team and industry analysts alike unsure whether the series will survive and get a new season — the series’ fifth. While in British Columbia for the final Vancouver version of the Creation Entertainment Official Stargate Convention, GateWorld flew up a few days early and took an invite to visit Bridge Studios to sit down with executive producer Martin Wood and executive producer/series star Amanda Tapping for an exclusive chat on a variety of topics, including the series’ long hiatus and its potential fate. The answers we received — while not the best news we want to hear — are brutally honest, yet still hopeful.

“Do we see it returning? I’d love to see it return. It was never an intention to end the show after Season Four,” Tapping said. “In all honesty, we’re not going to be on TV screens in the fall. We know that. It’s really just been a logistical [nightmare] and a heartbreaking, soul crushing play-out of events. But the truth of the matter is Syfy was not able to make a decision in a timely fashion as to whether or not we were coming back for the fall. They had their whole crunch going on with Comcast taking over at NBC. So they weren’t able to give us a decision.”

The wait for an answer won’t be indefinite, though, as Tapping hinted as to when a decision either way must come by.

“Our financers were getting really nervous about whether or not the show was coming back. And even though Syfy doesn’t have to tell us until July, telling us in July means the show is not coming back in the fall because we can’t possibly do it,” Tapping said. “In that time period where the financers were getting nervous and Syfy wasn’t giving us a decision, our studio came up for lease. And our studio is very expensive. They wanted us to sign a year-long lease and pay three months in advance. And our financers were like “Why would we do that? We don’t even know if the show’s [returning].” So they released the studio.

“All of our assets are currently sitting in a massive storeroom,” Tapping added. “Everything Sanctuary. Except for our sets which have been sold.”

Tapping: "We're just a couple of producers who just want to make a show."

Martin Wood is quick to stress that while the series’ fate continues to remain unknown, it has nothing to do with Syfy’s overall happiness with the series and its performance.

“We’re at the point of where art and business collide,” Wood said. “[We got] a call from the head of the network, Mark Stern. He called to say ‘I have to admit that Season Four was your best season ever. It was amazing. We loved what Season Four was doing.’ But his hands were tied at that point. He couldn’t make a decision on it. Because he wasn’t available to do that. Or rather, the decision-making capability wasn’t available to him. I think given their feelings about the show, they certainly would have brought it back. But again, that’s the point where art and business collide.”

For Tapping, the wait for an answer about what will happen to the series

she has invested so much time and effort into has been an emotional-roller coaster.

“You’ve got Syfy dealing with Comcast, and you’ve got Syfy dealing with our financers, The Beedie Group, which own the show. And we’re just a couple of creative producers who just want to make the show,” Tapping said. “I can’t [talk about it] without sitting here and bawling my eyes out. It has been the most heart-crushing, soul destroying experience. Because it’s a really good show and we love it. And we are stuck between these two really opposing forces.”

For more from the duo about Sanctuary‘s fate, along with their thoughts on the Stargate franchise’s dormancy and so much more, make sure you keep your browser locked to GateWorld. An exclusive full-length audio interview with Amanda Tapping and Martin Wood is mere days away and not one you’ll want to miss!


Exclusive: It has been four months since the conclusion of the fourth season of Amanda Tapping’s science fiction series Sanctuary on Syfy and still no decision has been reached on the future of the series.

Back in February, I was told that a decision on Sanctuary could be connected to what the network decided to do about a potential Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome series. Since then, Syfy has passed on picking up Blood & Chrome to series and, just this past week, we received word from three sources stating that the series had been cancelled. However, upon contacting representatives of Syfy, TVWise was informed that was not the case and that a decision had yet to be reached on whether or not they would order a fifth season.

What’s the hold up? A source at Syfy told me that the issue was not on Syfy’s side of things and in fact boils down to how the series is financed. ”Sanctuary is the only question mark on the scripted side. We have the figures, the series averaged a 0.4 [live+same day across season 4], advertising wise that’s worth what it’s worth,” one insider commented, “that and a few other factors will dictate our licensing fee. But the problem is that there is no studio support. If this was with UCP [Universal Cable Productions, NBCUniversal's production company for cable shows], then you would have heard one way or another, the fact that the show is independently financed complicates matters.”

Indeed, I am told that with no major studio backing the series, the producers (notably Amanda Tapping and Damian Kindler) are forced to negotiate with a variety of investors to raise enough cash for each new season. According to Syfy that is where the hold up is: with individual backers of the series. That likely wouldn’t surprise too many people: getting backers for a series as expensive as Sanctuary (I’m told the average cost is $2.6 million per episode) in the middle of a recession is, undoubtedly, not an easy task. Where does that leave the series? I was told that if a renewal announcement wasn’t made by July at the latest, then the odds of getting the show back on on the air for fall 2012 would be slim.

TVWise will continue to monitor the situation with Sanctuary and we will bring you more as we have it.

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A: Carrot sticks and apples.

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A: Wine.

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A: Currently, "Just Dance" Lady Gaga.

Q: What is the last thing you laughed about?
A: My 5 year old and her pearls of wisdom.

Q: Who would be your dream workout partner?
A: My husband.

Q: What is your favorite workout accessory?
A: My husband. : )

Q: What unhealthy habit do you wish to shed?
A: Stress.

Q: Richard Simmons OR Jane Fonda?
A: Jane!

Q: The secret to longevity is...
A: Finding something to laugh about everyday.

Q: What is your best health advice to others?
A: Relax…..
About.com (April)

Primeval: New World Earlier in March, production started for the North American spin-off of Primeval, picked up by the Canadian channel SPACE. (There's no stateside deal yet.) The series stars Eureka beau Niall Matter; even better, Andrew-Lee Potts will appear as a recurring guest star in the 13-episode first season, reprising his role as Connor Temple from the original series. The rest of the cast includes Sara Canning (The Vampire Diaries), Miranda Frigon (Sanctuary, Heartland), and Geoff Gustafson (Supernatural, Hot Tub Time Machine). Stargate and Sanctuary fans will note the presence of Martin Wood as executive producer and Amanda Tapping and Andy Mikta as directors. One amazing fact about Primeval: New World: not only is it made in Vancouver—it's actually set there. Wow.

It’s good times for Vancouver-produced TV sci-fi as the Space channel has announced the principal cast for the new series Primeval: New World.

The show, which started filming this month, is a spin-off of the British series Primeval, in which present-day humans confront a fracture in time which allows dinosaurs into our world, and humans into prehistory.

Starring in the new 13-episode hourlong series are Vancouver actors Sara Canning (Vampire Diaries) and Niall Matter (Eureka, 90210), in a Vancouver-set story that will allow for cross-over stories with the still-running British series.

B.C.’s Omni Film Productions is producing the new series, which also stars Miranda Frigon, Geoff Gustafson and Danny Rahim. Also guest-starring is Britain’s Andrew-Lee Potts from the original series.

(Already in production this year is Showcase’s Vancouver-set sci-fi series Continuum, which follows a cop from the future who travels back to the present-day to chase a group of terrorist fugitives. Something about this city seems to draw time-travellers.)

Primeval: New World‘s line up of episodic directors includes Mike Rohl, Andy Mikita, Amanda Tapping and Martin Wood. Those last two previously collaborated as star and director respectively on Sanctuary, another B.C.-filmed sci-fi series.

When I talked to Tapping on another set last month, she said they were still awaiting word on a green light for a fifth season of Sanctuary, another show with a time-travel theme. Seems less likely with this latest news, but we’ll keep you posted.

Amanda Tapping has come down to Earth, you might say.

"There’s nothing hiding around any corner, aliens aren’t going to zap us out of space," says the Vancouver actor on the set of the indie rom-com Random Acts of Romance.

"I’m not chasing monsters."

Director Katrin Bowen and her crew have dressed an east Vancouver office space to serve as the office for Tapping’s banker character Dianne, a former college prof who lost that job when she had an affair with a student (co-star Zak Santiago).

Now married, the two are one set of the movie’s several couples in disarray, in a story that Tapping says is aiming for a darker comedic edge.

"Dianne is a somewhat uptight, very unhappy woman at the moment," says Tapping, clad in a banker’s suit as she waits for a lighting setup. "Her husband’s not motivated, I’m feeling frustrated and we’re not going anywhere. There’s this incredible chemistry and passion between the two of them, but this movie finds them at the end of their marriage and how they stumble through it."

In short, day-to-day troubles far from Tapping’s usual acting work over the past decade and a half.

Tapping has been one of the city’s most consistently visible players since 1997, first on the TV series Stargate SG-1 as combat-booted space jockey Samantha Carter, continuing that role on the spinoff series Stargate: Atlantis.

For the past four years she’s been the producer-star of the Gothic-flavoured TV fantasy Sanctuary, as Helen Magnus, an immortal 150-year-old British doctor who guards and does battle with a menagerie of modern-day mythical creatures.

But before Stargate launched her career in what she calls "the genre," Tapping was part of a Toronto sketch comedy group called Random Acts; so she finds some serendipity in the similar title of her latest movie.

As to the jump from battling aliens to wrestling with the seven-year itch, Tapping says they both involve being honest in front of the camera.

"We swear a lot in this movie and that’s something certainly that you don’t get to do on television," she says. "Otherwise, it’s exactly the same, you dive into a character and make it real."

Tapping first met director Bowen more than 10 years ago, when Bowen worked as her stand-in and occasional stunt double on Stargate.

"Working with her on-set years ago, she had the most zany sense of humour," says Bowen, who remembered those off-camera laughs when she got into directing. "I’d never really seen Amanda do comedy, but I asked her and she’s been phenomenal."

Which isn’t to say there aren’t a few jitters for Tapping.

"It’s risky for me because I have a couple of really weird love scenes and that’s where the comedy comes in," says Tapping. "For me it was balls-out comedy, let all your inhibitions go. There’s no nudity, I have that rider . . . But it was really liberating just to do these crazy scenes."

Doing comedy for the camera is another source of nerves, she says.

"On film, you don’t have the immediate reaction of the audience. Onstage you know if it’s funny right away," she says. "Here, when we hear Katrin laughing behind the monitor, we think we’re doing pretty good."

Tapping is waiting to hear if there will be a fifth season of Sanctuary, which airs on Canada’s Space channel and in 170 other countries.

"I’ve had a 15-year run where I haven’t stopped being on people’s TV screens. Believe me, I count my blessings," she says.

After Sanctuary wrapped last August, she went to Regina to film the indie sci-fi comedy Space Milkshake with fellow Vancouver actor Kristin Kreuk. It is due out this year.

"Right now I’m at this really cool crossroads," she says. "I don’t know what’s ahead. I’d like to do more of these smaller features, but I’m open to anything."

The Vampire Diaries star Sara Canning has joined Primeval spinoff New World.

The 13-episode Canadian-UK co-production is currently filming in Vancouver and will air in late 2012.

The actress - best known for playing Jenna Sommers on The CW's The Vampire Diaries - has appeared in episodes of Smallville and Supernatural. Eureka's Niall Matter will also star in New World as a visionary inventor. Andrew-Lee Potts, who played Connor in the original UK series, has been confirmed to appear as a guest star. Miranda Frigon (Heartland), Geoff Gustafson (Once Upon a Time) and Danny Rahim (Young James Herriot) make up the remainder of the show's regular cast, while Stargate's Amanda Tapping will direct.

Primeval: New World will air on Watch in the UK and Space in Canada. > Primeval spinoff 'New World' to air on Watch in late 2012

The "Sanctuary" star toplines the Canadian theatrical comedy by writer/director Katrin Bowen, now shooting in Vancouver.

TORONTO – Sanctuary’s Amanda Tapping is headlining Random Acts of Romance, the steamy theatrical comedy from Canadian indie director Katrin Bowen.

Tapping is also joined in the indie feature by Katherine Isabelle, Robert Moloney, Laura Bertram, Zak Santiago, Ted Whittall and Sonja Bennett.

Tapping plays a teacher supporting a former student (Santiago) and lover who has never grown up.

Bowen is shooting Random Acts of Romance, her second theatrical feature after the 2010 film Amazon Falls, in Vancouver through February 17.

She wrote the screepnplay with Jillian Mannion and Kevin McComiskie.
The executive producer credits are shared by Avi Federgreen and Lindsay Macadam.
Bowen and Darren Reiter of Purple Productions are producing.

Writing for Film & Television grads Kevin McComiskie and Jillian Mannion will soon have what every hardworking screenwriter wants – a first feature film credit.

After years of collaborating from their native UK with Vancouver-based director Katrin Bowen, their screenplay for Random Acts of Romance is finally seeing the green lights of production. Shooting began yesterday not far from VFS.

It’s not the first time Bowen has worked with Writing grads on a feature; her 2010 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) debut, Amazon Falls, was penned by VFS grad Curry Hitchborn. She and Kevin also collaborated on the award-winning Port Short called I, Stalker during his year at VFS.

With their first film featuring award-winning actors Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary), Zak Santiago (Shooter), and Sonja Bennett (Elegy), Kevin and Jillian are excited to see their work hit the big screen soon – especially considering the epic journey they underwent to get to this point.

It all began when their screenplay was picked up for development in 2007, which brought on a deluge of rewrite notes from various parties.

“Funders, broadcasters, producers, actors…” Everyone had an opinion, Kevin says. “It’s a hard thing to deal with and get your head around when you are thrown feet-first into the thick of things as we found ourselves at this point. Being so far away, we were getting constant emails with notes about the script from all angles. All of a sudden this ‘great script’ was now just a ‘good script’ and here we were presented with 101 people’s opinions on how to make it ‘great again’.”

The project began to grow, attracting financiers and a producer.

“Countless rewrites later, it’s late 2008 and our producer tells us we are good to go for production in the New Year,” Kevin explains. “It all starts to seem very real.”

Then the storm clouds gathered. The team lost a chunk of production financing and an internal contract dispute prevented the film from moving forward until June 2011. It was during this time that Katrin unveiled Amazon Falls at TIFF to much acclaim, and that clout helped bring back the interested parties once she reignited Random Acts of Romance last year.

Could you tell us what is the film is all about?

Jillian: Random Acts of Romance is a comedy/drama about the transience of relationships and how couples get together then fall apart. It takes quite a cynical view of love and infatuation, but also looks at the comic absurdity in some relationships. Each couple, and each character, has their own set of problems which damages their love lives.

Kevin: There’s also a lot of humour added to the mix as not to make the film come across all Blue Valentine. (Great film, just not the laugh-a-minute I wanted it to be!) The story itself deals with two couples and three singletons whose lives all intersect as they live up to the realization that love and happiness is not an easy road. The film is a cynical take on relationships but it is also very truthful about the realities of love. We tried hard to move away from the black and white conventions of the romantic comedy genre and instead spent time addressing the intriguing “grey area” where the lines are blurred on what is acceptable and what is normal when it comes to the pursuit of the opposite sex.

This project has been in the works for a few years now. How has it developed over that time?

Jillian: It’s come a long way! It started out with all the same characters that it has now, but the script has been pared down to the nitty-gritty bones of the story, which is exactly what it needed. In the beginning there were some scenes and attributes of the characters that just didn’t work. Notes from the director and producers helped us to hone in on what the themes of the script were and what the story was actually trying to say. As writers, sometimes it was hard to receive notes on things that we didn’t want to change because they were funny or a good character reveal, but for the sake of the film you have to let them go. The production of the film has been a waiting game, but the script is better for it.

Kevin: It’s easy to put all your hopes and dreams into one screenplay when someone expresses an interest. You have to be realistic and have to ensure you have many projects on the go because the fact is, not everything you write will get produced. But finding someone who believes in your work, that’s the most important part. Because if you find that person, as we did with Katrin, you soon learn that anything is possible.

Now that the film is actually in production I can honestly say, despite all the frustration of the development process, it was actually worth it. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. As screenwriters, if Jill and I hadn’t gone through what we did, I don’t think we would have evolved as writers. Our experience has made us better writers and more aware of the pitfalls of the industry. Believing in yourself as a writer is the most important thing you can carry through the development process. Learn to trust your instincts and fight for what you think is important.

What are some tips aspiring UK-based screenwriters should know about the industry as you’ve experienced it these past few years?

Kevin: Move to Canada. Seriously. The open-mindedness of the market is inspiring. Canada welcomes and rewards creativity. I spent a year in Vancouver and the amount of opportunities that are available for Canadian creatives is excellent. Back in the UK, it’s a very insular industry. From my experience there is a tendency in the UK to reward the established and the tried-and-tested. There is not so much love for the new and innovative. It’s frustrating because there are so many talented writers in the UK, it’s just they don’t have the platform to have their voices heard.

My advice: find someone who appreciates and gets your work, and surround yourself with like-minded people. Writing can be a lonely pursuit and it is difficult to go it alone. I would say to any writer, persistence is key. If you are jumping through the hoops and nothing is happening, just go out and do it yourself. Aim big, high, far and wide. You have nothing to lose.

Jillian: Never give up! When I first started writing an established screenwriter told me that it was virtually impossible to have a screenplay made when you’re an unknown writer, but we worked hard to create a solid script and heard that Katrin was looking for a low-budget feature so we took the plunge and sent it to her. She called us at 7am the next morning to say that she loved it. I think it’s key to know the right person to send the right script to. The other tip I would give to aspiring writers is to be flexible with your writing – fight for the things that you think are important to the story, but try to understand any notes that you receive and make them work if they have a point.

Amanda Tapping is currently shooting a new feature by indie filmmaker Katrin Bowen in her home town, Vancouver. Headlining the film Random Acts of Romance, Amanda plays Dianne, a teacher supporting a former student and lover (Zak Santiago) who hasn’t grown up.

Random Acts is described as a sexy, hilarious comedy feature about intense characters in extreme relationship situations. Santiago also has a history on Stargate, playing Rogelio Duran in the SG-1 two-parter “Evolution.” More recently, he played Corporal Rivers on Stargate Universe. Amanda and Zak are joined by Katherine Isabelle (Valencia in SG-1‘s “Camelot”), Robert Moloney (Atlantis‘s Koracen and SG-1‘s Borren), Laura Bertram (Andromeda), Ted Whitall, and Sonja Bennett (Dahlia Radim on Stargate Atlantis). Filming wraps around February 17 and all indications from her Twitter feed is that she is enjoying the project immensely.

Award-winning filmmaker Katrin Bowen has a new project in the works--the comedy feature "Random Acts of Romance", currently in production in Vancouver. Sex, abduction, stalking… and that’s just the first date! "Random Acts of Romance" is a clever, insightful, and hilarious fast-paced comedy about modern relationships and the downright bizarre ways people express love. Principal photography on this sexy romp (written by Jillian Mannion, Kevin McComiskie & Katrin Bowen) began at the end of January and wraps at the end of this week.
The film follows David (Robert Moloney -The Odds) and Holly (Laura Bertram -Andromeda), rich newlyweds who should be in love. When Holly accidentally runs over Bud (Katherine Isabelle -Endgame), a pot-smoking lesbian, who questions the couple’s passion for each other, she realizes that perhaps her marriage isn’t working. Then there's Matt (Zak Santiago -Amazon Falls, V) and Dianne (Amanda Tapping -Stargate, Sanctuary), the couple who met in college. Dianne was Matt’s teacher but it’s not going well now. After a stoned conversation with his best friend, Bud, Matt goes all out to win back his wife but she’s more interested in Richard (Ted Whittall -Once Upon A Time), the heartless, attractive millionaire who lives next door to Bud. Keeping up? In the meantime, Richard catches the eye of David’s secretary, Lynne (Sonja Bennett-Young People F**cking), a timid girl who likes to stalk. Yes, "Random Acts of Romance" will take the audience on a sexual joy ride.

At the helm of this film is visionary director Katrin Bowen. Based out of Vancouver, Katrin’s first feature film, "Amazon Falls", debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival (2010) to glowing reviews. Katrin went on to win

both the Best Debut Feature Award at the Female Eye Film Festival and the 2011 Artistic Achievement Award from Women in Film. "Amazon Falls" garnered the 2011 Leo Award for Best Female Performance. Katrin looks forward to bringing her passion for storytelling to her second feature "Random Acts of Romance".