Looking ahead to Season 9

Posted on May 21, 2015

Well friends and fans, we've passed one important date - May 19, the start of production on season 9 of television's favourite family drama, Heartland.

After enjoying the Victoria Day weekend, the cast and crew assembled at the Heartland ranch set on Tuesday and started filming what will prove to be a very exciting season for fans of the longest running dramatic one-hour series in the history of Canadian television.

All the photos you see on this page - some of the cast and some of the crew at work - were taken by Heartland's trusty photographer Andrew Bako, who will be capturing images throughout the production schedule. You'll see some here during upcoming Thursday blogs over the year, and of course once the episodes begin airing on CBC Television in September or October (we are not sure of the date yet) you will get many more. Nothing wrong with that, no?

Heartland continues to grow in popularity and with it comes new fans from around the globe (the series is licensed in 119 countries) and so quite a few fans reading this may be new to the series, this website and this blog. With that in mind I thought I would explain a few things about how production of the series works, for the benefit of those who may not know.

Heartland's ninth season, like seasons 2 through 8, will have eighteen (18, count 'em) one-hour episodes. The series is filmed in nine, two-episode blocks, each of which requiring fifteen days of production to film. So right now Bruce McDonald is directing the first two episodes of the season - 901 and 902. Bruce's crew is led by 1st Assistant Director Pierre Tremblay, who makes sure the schedule for each of the fifteen days is followed and is on time.

The reason two episodes are shot over the same period of time is to be able to film more at any one location. This saves on the travel and relocation time of the vehicles and equipment, which can be costly. So if, for example the first two episodes both have a couple of scenes at the dude ranch, then they can all be filmed in one day and a production move is saved. Over the course of filming an entire season this saves time and money, both important things which must be considered in production.

Now, back at the production office, while filming is taking place on the sets for Block 1 (episodes 901 and 902), director Dean Bennett is working on Block 2 (episodes 903 and 904), which he will start filming on Tuesday, June 9. Right now the fifteen day schedule for Dean's block is being set up at the production office by 1st Assistant Director Mark Ambury, who has returned to Heartland after a few years off (Welcome back Mark!).

So as the vast majority of the crew works on set every day while the series is shooting, the first and second assistant directors have a unique work schedule; they spend fifteen days in preparation for their block, followed by fifteen days on set while the block is being filmed.

Once Dean's block begins filming then Pierre, the first assistant director from Block 1, will start prep on Block 3 with a new director. And this process will continue until mid December when Block 9 - episodes 917 and 918 wrap.

There is a massive amount of information I can share with you concerning how Heartland is filmed, and I will do that in here over the course of the year. Plus I will continue to post production photos so you can get a behind the scenes look at how Heartland is made.

Of course I will avoid plot spoilers. The photo of young Katie (Julia Baker) on a horse is not really a spoiler, for did anyone really think that someone in the Bartlett Fleming clan would not learn to ride a horse? Katie's mother Lou (Michelle Morgan) did at a young age, so it only makes sense that Katie would be getting in the saddle before long.

So that's it for this week, Heartlanders. Enjoy the upcoming week. Your trusty and faithful Blog Whisperer will be back next Thursday with more news and photos to inform and entertain you with. At least that is my goal!

Until then I remain, as always, obediently yours.