LYTD5: more, more, more

Our friends over at TV Fanatic very kindly announced the list of TVDers that Heather and I interviewed for Love You to Death 5, and holy smokes you guys. So many people! (Way more than last year, and that was an insane group for us.) It was pretty cool to receive that barrage of Yes-yes-yes! Personally I find the making-of insights fascinating — it’s just glimpse after glimpse into How It’s Made (where “it” is a highly well-made excellent and enduring tv series), and you get a great sense of the personalities behind TVD — so it was a delight to dream up questions and get so many great answers. In parts, the book functions like an oral history of this season, which gives me great joy … and hopefully will do the same for readers.

LoveYouToDeath_hiResCheck the list here.

We’re now in page proofs — meaning the book is written and edited, and now we’re proofreading what the actual book pages look like, finding lingering typos, fixing formatting issues — and off it goes to print at the end of the month. Exciting times!p.s. If you wanted to add the book to your to-read shelf on Goodreads, or preorder it or tell your TVD-loving friends about it? Heck, we would be most obliged. Book’s out in October in print & e-formats. And our publisher, ECW, has a great program where if you buy the print book, you can get the ebook for freeeee! (Details are inside the book, and it’s super easy to get yo file.)

happy 100, PLL!

I’ve been meaning to post about My Trip to Rosewood for sometime, and what more auspicious occasion than Pretty Little Liars 100th episode day? I’m in the midst of a series rewatch — Emily just moved in with Hanna, and Toby just found the field hockey stick on the Hastings-DiLaurentis property line — and I’m struck again by how much love I have for this show. Suspense and scares, mysteries and red herrings, fun and fashion, and best of all: the characters. The joy of the rewatch is in the details you missed the first time (or second or third or fourth…). This 100 Moments post on Buzzfeed is a good refresher on some of the Amazingly Crazy Things that have gone down, and if you want to hear Lucia and me talk excitedly about what we love about the new season, you’re in luck. We chat about the first 3 episodes of season 5 here.

TO ROSEWOOD!

Norman wishes you a happy PLL 100! (photo from norbuck's instagram)

Norman wishes you a happy PLL 100! (photo from norbuck’s instagram)

Well, first to L.A. Back in March, I went to L.A. for the first time in over a decade (crazy-long — my sis used to live there and I would visit far more frequently than never), and amongst the excellent adventures — TVD PaleyFest panel, jokes writing session with Heather Vee, seeing fam and pals — I had the privilege of finally meeting Mr. Norman Buckley in person.

Way back when, a.k.a. after I wrote Spotted, my very 1st book, about Gossip Girl, I’d sent a copy to him — he directed a number of episodes of GG over the series run — and he received it graciously. Turns out, as all of you who follow him on Twitter/Tumblr/etc already know, Norman is not only kind and supportive, but smart and thoughtful and engaged. I could really ramble on about how great he is — learn about film! politics! — but you can discover this yourself if you haven’t already: he tweets here, and tumbls here. And here’s a post he wrote on the occasion of PLL’s 100th. Couldn’t agree more with his point about the centrality of the girls’ friendships.

So Norman invites me to lunch. But he’s working the week I’m in L.A. So lunch will have to be on the WB studio lot; he’s shooting the PLL season five premiere. Plans are made, I think about very little else in the intervening hours than my impending adventure.

There was a slight shmozzle when I went to pick up my pass at the WB security desk to get in — the perils of having a pen name, Calhoun, that’s not on my I.D. — so I was running late (I hate being late) and the directions I received from the friendly guard were, as it turns out, to the PLL building (listed on my pass), not to the ‘executive dining room’ where I was to meet Norman for some executive dining. However there were two very cool looking people hanging out outside the PLL building when I scampered up to ask for directions. The guy turned out to be Jakub Durkoth, art director for PLL (Norman later introduced me, and Jakub high-fived me for ultimately reaching my destination). The woman required no introduction: it was Mandi Line, she obviously looked amazing and was the very definition of fierce and provided excellent directions. Thank you, Mandi! (My lateness saved me from giving her some breathless, half-sensical compliment about her brilliant costume designing, so at least there’s that.)

Lunch with Norman was lovely (and v. tasty — compliments to the WB chefs). We talked TV, and fandom, and his work and my work, and strangely ended up on this short film he’d seen that was directed by Gregory the Smith, which just happens to feature my sister. Small world, sometimes. I also learned what an “Arnold Palmer” is and subsequently order it with authority at other restaurants in America. (Maybe we call it that in Canada too? Anyway, it’s a refreshing delight.)

We stroll over to the PLL building — and by the way, it’s a perfect Californian day, blue skies, sunshine, slight breeze — and there my tour of the PLL HQ begins. The walls outside the offices are decorated with blown-up stills from the series, so it’s a little walk down memory lane/highlight reel of crazy-awesome. Inside the main office, the first desk that greets you (with a very friendly person behind it) has on it a bowl of candy and a sign with Tom and Donna that says ‘treat yo self.’ Best. These people are our people. Teen Choice Award surfboards are mounted high up (no shortage of those), cast and guest star headshots line the walls, and decorating various workstations are props from the show — newspaper clippings (I still get the willies from the Ali missing girl front page) — and photos of the PLLs. Most imposingly? The portrait of Alison from the film noir episode hangs above Kyle Bown‘s desk. It’s amazing. And huge. And intimidating. Joseph Dougherty (who directed said episode) has film noir posters in his office. Love.

All to say, the offices are awesome. And the people therein, just as awesome. Everyone was friendly and chatty and had lovely things to say about Rosewood Confidential, which meant the world to me to hear. (Unofficial episode guides to TV shows are not really the kinds of books that get a lot of review attention from publications, and besides who more in-the-know than the producers and writers of the series to give you a pat on the back?) So I was beaming, and trying to keep cool and moderately professional. I signed Lisa Cochran Neilan’s copy of the book (who knows what I wrote or if it was legible/in English), and it was cool to overhear logistics talk about the day ahead between various folks and Norman. Their shooting day, by the way, was starting at about 3 in the afternoon (shortly after I left post lunch + tour), and wrapping up at about 3 in the morning.

Then, you guys, then I went into the Writers’ Room. White boards everywhere filled with SECRETS. And I managed not to read a single word. I was super conscious of being…respectful of Norman’s trust and, by extension, that of the producers and writers I was meeting. He was introducing me around as the author of Rosewood Confidential / a friend of his (rather than, here is a person who loves our show and has a twitter account, please let her look at the writers’ room secrets). My eyes stayed on the people in the room (and my phone stayed in my bag the entire, entire time; I didn’t take a single picture). No spoilers. (I hate spoilers.)

While there were a number of highlights that afternoon, being in the writers’ room was definitely one of them. I met Marlene, Oliver Goldstick, Bryan Holdman (what a smile!), Maya Goldsmith, among others, and they were all jovial and amazing, and Marlene told me about stumbling across RC in a Barnes & Noble while on a vacation with her boys. I am pretty sure I ended that whirlwind moment with an overly formal compliment about the show, but I got it out somehow: PLL is top notch, and thank you, and keep up the good work.

Phew. After showing me the editing suites — an editor was already working on Norm’s ep, doing a rough cut of the footage they’d already shot — it was time for us to head to Rosewood proper. (Wait, that is a lie, we went to the Starbucks — ‘Central Perk’ since it’s on the WB lot — and Jakob and production designer Fred Andrews were there, and Norman then told me some cool stories about the development of various sets and why we don’t see much of the Applerose Grille anymore.)

Into the PLL golf cart! First, we drove around some of the backlot locations and through the main streets of Rosewood. (Which are the main streets of a number of other TV show towns, of course.) Rosewood High, the cop station/city hall, the Grill, the exterior of the girls’ houses, the pond (!), the DiLaurentis house, the creepy woods they are always running through (and there’s one tree in particular the girls always run by that is a running gag for the PLLers), and around to the streets that were being dressed for the NYC scenes in the premiere.

Then onto the studio lots — there are three of them to house all the sets. This was basically like stepping into wonderland. I saw the wall of A’s that the production designers keep outside their offices. I walked the hallway where Spencer bought drugs. I saw Emily’s bedroom without any furniture in it but with the height-markings on the closet frame. Hanna’s kitchen and front area (the stairs where she sometimes has a cry!). The Hastings kitchen and living room were suitably classy — that kitchen island has very impressive stools, fyi. Aria’s bedroom? Giant. (Which when I commented on its size, Norman told me it was originally smaller, but was later expanded to ease filming in there.) What is normally the high school set had been turned into the hospital where Ezra is convalescing in the premiere. The space where the cafeteria normally is was all medical, and the doors into the boys and girls restrooms at Rosewood High (at the end of the hall) were flipped to generic hospital doors. It was this weird Matrix-y thing where I could see what was in front of me — the hospital set — but superimpose that alternate reality on top — Rosewood High. Another fun fact: the cafeteria and Ezra’s classroom? Same space! They just redress the thing. I find all of this stuff highly fascinating and impressive, so I was basically agog the whole the time.

The police station set was somehow really creepy (hmm, maybe because every cop save for Officer Barry is a total creeper in Rosewood?), but wandering through the DiLaurentis house was the creepiest of all. Especially since there was an A message written in lipstick on Ali’s mirror. The other fun/disorienting thing is that the sets connect to each other, so you walk out from one PLL’s living room, between the set walls, and into another girl’s bedroom.

chilling on the cozy Brew couch (photo by Norman Buckley)

chilling on the cozy Brew couch (photo by Norman Buckley)

We ended the tour at the Rear Window Brew, and Norman took a photo: yes, I believe I was grinning this wide the whole time. (Originally I posed behind the counter — covering Emily’s shift, and looking for wads of cash in bags of coffee, naturally — but there was no lighting in that back corner.)

That couch is legit comfy, and if they made a replica of the Brew IRL I would frequent it. Norman said the girls like to hang out there, and I understand why — it feels like a real cozy spot. The sets are stunning to behold, and so on-point character-wise to the smallest details. (If I ever magically become a rich person, I’d hire the art director and set design team to make my home look so well appointed.)

And that, my friends, was my trip to Rosewood. A total delight. I love knowing that the gang of people who work so very hard to make this show as great as it is are so warm and friendly and welcoming. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to Norman for the A-fternoon in Rosewood.

Congrats for an amazing 100, Pretty Little Liars.

 

 

 

tulips inside, snow outside

Oh climate change. Snow on April 15th, +20 Celsius on April 14th. I’m sure everything will be fine, really. Let’s just plan for the apocalypse anyway.

Eatin’ some fruit salad, drinking some stupidly weak coffee, another day at ECW HQ to start rather soon. I’ve been feeling under the weather and a bit stupid and lazy lately, so my apologies for flaking on writing a PLL finale recap yet, and for being so behind on my V-D.net posts. But I’m mere moments from getting my head in the game again. Cue that song from High School Musical. Or this much better song from an album I can’t stop listening to.

sleepy helllloooo

I’ve basically forgotten to ever, ever, ever blog here, but I am still alive, I promise. Today has been the sleepiest so far — for some reason, I’m sleeping in like a teenager these days? — but here’s what is up:

With the return of TVD next week — episode 100! — I’ll be back reviewing/recapping The Vampire Diaries at Vampire-Diaries.net, and one of my new year’s resolutions is to post at a regular time! No lateness tolerated! So, expect ‘em by Sunday midday, folks, and shame me on the internet if I’m late.

ALSO I’ve begun recapping Pretty Little Liars for Heroine TV! Read my posts on the first and second episodes. I’ve also popped on to co-host Lucia’s podcast, talking about Downton Abbey and Reign — history! edutainment! — and I’ll be talking PLL and Ravenswood with Lucia and Tash, hopefully later tonight.

On the book writing front, Vee and I are working on Love You to Death — Season 5 and PRETTY SOON we’ll have a cover to show you, which we hope you will think looks as SUPER COOL as we do.

I think that’s it?

xo

Love You to Death Season 4 is out!

It’s the official pub date! Exciting times to see the book out in the world, and people have been awesomely tweeting/instagrammin’ pics of Love You to Death Season 4.

Vee and I have been posting all our bookish news over at the new sites for the series LoveYoutoDeathTVD.com

loveyoutodeath4banner

Some highlights!

  • HeroineTV‘s Lucia had Vee and me on her podcast to talk all about the book, our writing process, and our thoughts on the upcoming seasons of TVD and The Originals. Listen here!
  • Reviews are up at ScreenFad.com and AngelizedFirst.com
  • And over at the Televixen, Melissa did a Q&A with us, and is offering a copy up for giveaway!

Wanna know where you can buy it? Places like Amazon.com, PowellsAmazon.caChaptersIndigo.caBarnes & Noble and it’s available in both print & e-editions!

Already have a copy? Well, if you felt like reviewing it or rating it or blogging about it or anything-ing it, that would be so very awesome of you. Every little bit helps us get the word out about the book, and help us when we’re pitching a LYTD season 5…

Thank you thank you for all the kind words and congratulatory tweets today and in the past few weeks! So excited about the book, for everyone to read it, and — most of all — to get not one but two TVD-verse shows back on air this Thursday.

Get that capslock button ready for twitter insanity.

xo

 

TIFF13: Oculus, How I Live Now, Sarah Prefers to Run

More TIFF13! In this batch, a triumvirate of lead female roles that are wonderfully complex and unusual!
JE3_7854.NEFOculus

directed by Mike Flanagan (who did the Q&A along with the writer and the producer)

Amy Pond! Starbuck! A creepy-ass haunted mirror! Part of the Midnight Madness programme at TIFF (but seen by me on a sunny Tuesday afternoon), Oculus is a fun horror-thriller about a sister and brother duo dealing with the torment unleashed by the evilest mirror in the history of mirrors. The film interweaves the past (the siblings at 10 and 12 when Shit Went Down) and the present (the siblings at 21 and 23, with Kaylie determined to Set Things Right), and the movement between the timelines is wonderfully creepy and integral to the way the mirror sucks the life outta ya. I don’t like gore, and there was very little of that in here — just enough to make me close my eyes and cover my head with my scarf once or twice. Mostly it’s just TENSE TIMES. A lot of fun, if you’re into this sort of thing, and the young cast — particularly Annalise Basso — was great. And a word of warning: if your plants die, then you should probably kill all the mirrors in your house. Just in case.

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How I Live Now

directed by Kevin MacDonald (who was not there, but sent along a little note that Saoirse Ronan read; the Q&A was with the totally stunning and eloquent Saoirse, George MacKay, and a producer whose name I do not recall!)

Little did I know that after Oculus‘s red-haired 10-year-old girl who is fierce and awesome would I get another ginger girl of equal awesomeness in Harley Bird as Piper. (I wish my name was Harley Bird.) How I Live Now is adapted from the Meg Rosoff novel (which I have not read): Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) arrives in the English countryside to stay with her cousins, but it’s not long before everything goes to hell in a handbasket thanks to the outbreak of war and the imposition of military rule. It’s beautifully shot, with strong performances from the whole lot of the kids, and at times it’s harrowingly realistic in terms of what living in a war-torn world would be like. Of course, loads of people are living in a war-torn world right this second, and How I Live Now sticks us North Americans/Brits in the shoes of those already displaced (which is such a weak word for having everything you know taken from you) by war. All that said, it’s not all glum and horrifying. (Though I was reminded of 28 Days Later…minus the zombies.) There’s a beautiful love story too, as well as the personal evolution that Daisy experiences, ending up a far cry from the lost-in-her-head, super styley city girl who arrives in the first act of the film. Two thumbs up for me!

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Sarah préfère la course (Sarah Prefers to Run)

directed by Chloé Robichaud (who did a Q&A after the film, along with Sophie Desmarais, who plays Sarah)

I seem to like every single movie I see, but I really liked Sarah Prefers to Run, and Sophie Desmarais was so understated and pitch perfect and [insert all the adoring adjectives here] in the film. Twenty-year-old Sarah likes to run. (And she’s fast.) Despite her mother’s misgivings, she moves to Montreal to run for the McGill track team, living with her former co-worker Antoine (who is an effing great character). It’s a simple film, plot wise, but incredibly rich in exploring Sarah’s choices and experiences and ‘interior life’. There’s a humour to it and a subtlety to the story and performances. Sophie Desmarais makes this quiet, plain, focused woman mesmerizing. An incredibly well made movie. See it if you can!

Only three films left! How will I spend my time when TIFF is over?!

TIFF13: Beneath the Harvest Sky, We Are the Best!, “Method”

 

My TIFF13 marathon continues! My thoughts on Beneath the Harvest SkyWe Are the Best, and “Method” below — spoiler alert: I liked them all!

beneaththeharvestsky_05

Beneath the Harvest Sky

directed by Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly (who were in attendance along with cast members Callan McAuliffe, Emory Cohen, Aiden Gillan, Sarah Sutherland, and Zoe Levin)

Two best friends in small-town Maine, nearing the end of high school. One a ‘good kid’ with promise (Dom, played by Callan McAuliffe), the other a shit disturber named Casper (Emory Cohen), and both want to get the hell out of the town where the future holds two options:  farming potatoes or selling drugs. I loved everything about Beneath the Harvest Sky: the friendship between Dom and Casper, the supporting cast was effing brilliant (including Aiden “Littlefinger” Gillan and a one-scene role for Carrie Preston), the film was beautifully shot. Tense, funny, sweet, tragic, and full of a barely contained rage from Emory Cohen’s Casper. In the Q&A afterward, it was hard to separate the actor from character with him; apparently when they went to prep the film in the small town in Maine (there was a potato farming family, La Joies, in the audience, who’d consulted and helped on the film), Emory made pals with all the locals — teens and drug dealers — and they all knew ‘Casper.’ Saying “he’s one to watch” seems, like, really corny and cliche, but…watch him. (He was also in The Place Beyond the Pines, which I will now be checking out.)

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We Are the Best!

directed by Lukas Moodysson (who was there for the Q&A)

After the dark/tragic/had a little cry of Beneath the Harvest Sky, the sheer fun of We Are the Best! was just the thing. It’s the early 1980s. It’s Stockholm. And Bobo (center above) and Klara (right) are 13-year-old best friends and misfits at school. Because they are punks, and punk is not dead, despite what you might have heard. With zero musical skill, they form a band and rope a third girl into it, the seriously talented Hedvig (left). It’s a boatload of fun, and just gets so many aspects of that age, of being female and the expectations to be pretty above anything else, of friendship tensions in a group of 3, of parents and how super embarrassing/awesome they can be — all in a subtle and honest way. The three leads (Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, and Liv LeMoyne) are all so spot-on with their performances, that I kind of doubt they are actually teenagers now; I think Lukas Moodysson probably time-travelled to capture this excellent, raucous moment in their lives. I sincerely hope it gets a release here so everyone can revel in the wall-to-wall Swedish punk music and joy of being a 13-year-old misfit.

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“Method,” part of Short Cuts programme 3

directed by Gregory (The) Smith

Hey that lady looks like my sister!! Oh it is. Sarain had a great time filming this short, and Team Sarain (me, Sarah Deeee, and Erin S., all coincidentally wearing black blazers and looking like a proper uniformed entourage) saw it on the big screen along with five other shorts, most of which were amazing. (One short was not. Time is relative, and watching it felt like an eternity. But let’s focus on the good!) “Method” is up on YouTube (and embedded below), so take 8 minutes and give it a watch. Sarain is particularly funny in it, in my humble and totally unbiased opinion. Other highlights from the Short Cuts programme 3: “Jimbo,” and “We Wanted More” (which features Orphan Black‘s Kira, and which totally freaked me out).

Next up! Oculus, How I Live Now, Sarah Prefers to Run

And then my last three, which I’m seeing tonight/tomorrow: Concrete Night, The Double, Omar