Production shots and questions.

Posted on Nov 26, 2015

This is the first Thursday blog post I have written in over two months that did not have a brand new Heartland episode broadcasting on CBC here in Canada three days later. That is because there is no new episode this Sunday; in Canada we have a football game called the Grey Cup that is an extremely popular national tradition. So many Heartlanders watch the Grey Cup that CBC wisely elects to not put a new episode of Heartland up. Thus the next new episode of Heartland - the mid-season finale and last episode of 2015 - will be coming our way on Sunday, December 6. The remaining nine episodes of season 9 - the last half of the season - will then start airing in January.

Now I know there are some of you who are not big on football, so there will be a repeat episode this Sunday of one of the best (and saddest) episodes Heartland has aired. "Ties of the Earth," directed by Dean Bennett from a script by Heather Conkie and featuring a wonderful performance by Shaun Johnston as Jack, will be on CBC this Sunday at 7:00pm (7:30pm in Newfoundland). If you are not into watching Ottawa battle Edmonton in Winnipeg then this may be for you!

On set, production is down to the last fourteen days of filming, as of today. A snowfall and sub-zero temperatures has given the landscape a beautiful look for the last two episodes of season nine. The wrapping up of the this season, with scripts by Mark Haroun and Heather Conkie, deftly directed by Dean Bennett, will be episodes you will eagerly look forward to; not that you do not look forward to all episodes.

Speaking of production, I have posted some never before seen production photos that Heartland's trusty stills photographer - Andrew Bako - took on set. Most of them were taken in the summer and early fall, when the weather was a lot better. I know you enjoy seeing these, so here they are for you.

I do have some questions to answer but before I do there are two issues I wish to address, the first being for our fans in the United States and I hope I can address many questions we have received here and on our social media platforms.

At this moment we do not know when season 9 will be broadcast in the US, or even by who. UPtv currently has exclusive rights and they may still air Heartland, but they will not be able to do so until CBC has finished airing episode 918 in March. The US is no different than any of the other 118 countries licensed to show the series, they cannot do so until it has aired in Canada.

UpTv, the Atlanta based network, has done a wonderful job of catching America up to the end of season 8. Some of you will recall that when UP started broadcasting Heartland, Canada was airing season 4. UP went all out promoting and marketing the series and it is primarily because of them that there are so many US fans. We are hoping they can find a way to broadcast season 9 next spring, but if they can't they still are to be given a ton of credit for airing the first eight seasons, where no other national broadcaster wanted to use the series for anything other than filler. Season 9 will air in the US. At this moment I do not know where or when. As soon as I know I will let everyone know in here.

Two related items I will repeat for those who do not know - 1) CBC does not own Heartland; it only has the rights to broadcast and stream the series first in Canada. That is why the CBC Player is geoblocked, preventing those not in Canada from watching, and 2) Netflix is different in every country. In Canada all previous eight seasons are available, while in the US seasons 1 through 6 are available. Seasons 7 and 8 will be added, but again the "when" is a question that needs to be asked to Netflix.

The other issue is a warning I must repeat regarding Heartland on CBC's Facebook page. There are hundreds of posts in the comments section from disreputable people offering ways for Americans (and others) to watch Heartland's current season. These are scam posts, hoping to attract credit card and personal information from unsuspecting fans. Everything is being done to make sure you do not see these pages, for no one associated with Heartland wants anyone to be taken advantage of.

Beyond the scam sites are pirate sites which may have illegal bootleg copies of episodes but may also have viruses attached, as fans have reported. Anyone posting non-authorized ways - real or not - of watching the series will have their posts erased, and they may find themselves banned from the page. I do realize that a small percentage of fans think they are being helpful, but posting unauthorized methods of watching the series - real or not - on official Heartland platforms, is very uncool and will not be tolerated.

So then, to your questions from last week, but before I do I just want to wish all our American fans a very happy Thanksgiving. Canada had it's day of eating turkey in October; now it is your turn.

And now -

Heartland Fan asks, "What episode was the most fun to film this year?"
A: All episodes have their own problems but they also have moments that everyone enjoys. Episode 907 - Fearless - because it involved medieval jousting, which many of the cast and crew were previously unfamiliar with, was a lot of fun for all involved.

Heartland Fan also asks, "What are your thoughts on Amy & Ty's loft?"
A: From what I have seen, I'd live there in a heartbeat!

Gary Gibson asks, "What are the chances that Tim - the only bachelor left in the family - will have his solitude ended by Casey?
A: Good question, and a great observation. I will answer many things, but I will not be a spoiler/revealer Blog Whisperer, so I am forced to say, "Gee - we'll have to find out what the second half of the season brings, won't we?"

Mohammed Shezad asks, "Why didn't Amy take Ty's last name when she married him?"
A: Two answers - 1) Amy has a professional reputation as Amy Fleming; it makes sense for her to retain that, and 2) In Canada many women choose to keep their surname. Sometimes they hyphenate the two names together, but more and more keep their maiden names.

CBClover512 asks, "Is the loft and barn a real place? Also she asks, Is Katie Lou's actual daughter or is she an actor?
A: The barn and the loft are real places. It is very expensive to create using CGI, so those are actual sets. I'll have more images of both later in the year for you.
A: Katie is played by a wonderful little girl named Julia Baker. She is not the daughter of Michelle Morgan, who plays Lou.

Elise asks, "Can you share the names of the last four episode titles?
A: I will do better than that and give you the titles to the entire second half of the season, which will air in early 2016...

  • 910: Darkness before Dawn
  • 911: Making the Grade
  • 912: The Real Deal
  • 913: Risky Business
  • 914: No Regrets
  • 915: Making a Move
  • 916: Pandora's Box
  • 917: Love is Just a Word
  • 918: Resolutions

 

Eddie Garver asks, "Why are you having Georgie starring in all the episodes?
There are multiple storylines is each episode and Heartland is a serialized program, meaning the episodes have to be shown in order. Georgie (well played by Alisha Newton) is an important part of the Fleming Bartlett clan and as such she is going to have stories which need to be told. I've written this before - if every episode was a one-off, starting with a damaged horse being brought to the ranch, fixed by Amy with Ty's help, and ending with them on the porch waving to the happy owner as he/she drives the healed equine away, this series would not have had a third season, let alone a ninth. The huge drama in the recent seasons was whether Amy and Ty would ever get married. Now that they have tied the knot there are other stories to tell. Amy and Ty will have their future stories as well, as will Tim and Lou and Jack (this Sunday's is an excellent Jack episode).

Here is a three word mantra I have written before - Trust The Writers! Right now in Canada season 9 is the most watched season of Heartland ever. I think I need to repeat that - Right now in Canada season 9 is the most watched season of Heartland - ever. I hope you will be patient and follow the series on its path. By season's end there will be 157 episodes of television's favourite family drama. There will have been many stories for all the characters, not just Georgie, and not just Amy and Ty. New characters are still to be introduced as the series evolves. Stay with it for the ride; it will be worth the wait!

Cassie Ostendorf asks, "What made you guys decide to film Heartland in beautiful Alberta?"
A: You have answered your own question - Alberta is indeed beautiful. The background is a character of its own in the series and you wouldn't believe how many people decide to vacation in Alberta because they saw how beautiful it was on Heartland. To give proper credit though - the CBC recommended that the series be shot in Alberta. It was an awesome recommendation!

Julie Vogt asks, "Are you making a new Christmas special this year?"
A: Good question, but no, I am afraid not. If a two-hour Christmas special was filmed then the regular season would be chopped down from 18 to 16 episodes and no one wants that to happen.

Naomi asks, "When is filming done?"
A: Filming starts in mid-May and goes through to mid December."

Frank Peter Oliver writes, "I always like the production photos..."
A: Glad to read that. Hope you like these ones posted today!

rosie asks the timeline from filming to broadcast, and also if the cast knew how to ride before being cast on the series.
A: It takes 15 workdays (Monday - Friday) to film 2 episodes. The first two episodes were finished filming on June 8. They were broadcast on October 4 and 11.The season finale will be wrapped December 15 and will be broadcast on March 20.

A: Amber Marshall and Shaun Johnston had ridden horses for years and were very comfortable on them. The other actors had varied experience riding, but they all learned pretty quickly.

agape asks, "What happened to posting the music?"
A: Good question; let me look into that.

Patrick Longworth asks about how the DVDs are distributed.
Heartland's producers chose eOne to distribute and market the DVDs, just the same as any other series. There are some restrictions. Much in the same way DVDs for a movie are not available until the movie has had the bulk of its run in theatres, DVDs for Heartland can not be made available until the season has been broadcast in that country.For that reason season 8 has not hit the stores in the US yet. However, season 8 has been available in Canada since October and you can purchase them through Amazon.com . CBC cannot ship outside of Canada.

Paige asks, "Will there be a season 10?"
A: No idea. Well, that's not true. The fact that Heartland's 9th season is so far the series' best ever, that is never a bad thing, because audience numbers are always an important factor in determining whether or not a series is going to get an additional season. As soon as something is announced you will read about it in here.

So that's the questions I am answering. There were a lot of repeat questions, so I tried to answer them all as best I could.

I will close off with one note - we get a lot of questions about the personal lives of our cast and I am not prepared to reveal any more than what is on their social media pages, so asking intimate details about cast members is not only not going to fly in here, it won't even get to the runway.

That's it for this week, Canada. Next week I'll be back with some news and info regarding the newest episode - 909. Until then I remain, as always, obediently yours.