Featured / SCREEN

“Borealis” // A Canadian Show that Must Be Seen

It’s 2045 and Vic Carboneau , played by Ty Olsson (“Supernatural”, “The Twilight Saga“, “Arrow”, “Falling Skies), is trying to keep control over the town of “Borealis”.   Things have changed on Earth this far into the future; the Arctic is a highly contested area.  Global warming means there are some resources in the Arctic that have become hot commodities and that is ratcheting up the tension between the nations who are vying for control.

Vic Carboneau is, among other things, a customs officer.  He’s a bit like the Priest in a confessional, the bartender who always has an ear for his customers and he seems to be the only thing holding the entire mess together.

One of the most interesting things about Vic is that he’s a retired Mixed Martial arts fighter. He clearly has a past that has driven him up north.  Maybe he was running from something.  The problem seems to be that trouble keeps finding Vic.  As he says, “Sooner or later? Everybody comes to Vic’s.”

Trouble finds this rugged retired fighter because Vic runs a brothel, a bar, and is the customs official.  It looks like he knows just enough about everything to keep himself alive.

The show is amazing.  I think it’s the best Canadian production I’ve ever seen.  The cast is a remarkable group of Canadian actors.  I guarantee you’ll find a familiar face in this pilot.

Terry Chen (“Continuum”, “Combat Hospital“, “Elysium”) plays a quirky guy with enough first aid training to try to be the local Doctor.  British Colombian born, Patrick Gallagher (“Glee”, “Psych”, “Suits”) is Vic’s friend and sarcastic co-worker – maybe even his conscience when he’s not tormenting the bar-owner.  Michelle Harrison (“Arctic Air”, “Eureka”, “Supernatural”) is an intense, passionate biologist with an itchy trigger finger. I’ve never seen one woman want to tranquillize so many men.

Bryan Dick (Clive), Christine Horne (Svetlana), Greyston Holt (Dan), Ty Olsson (Vic Carboneau), Michelle Harrison (Alison Freemont), Patrick Gallagher (Taq) // "Borealis" 2012

Bryan Dick (Clive), Christine Horne (Svetlana), Greyston Holt (Dan), Ty Olsson (Vic Carboneau), Michelle Harrison (Alison Freemont), Patrick Gallagher (Taq) // “Borealis” 2012

Ty Olsson is a passionate guy.  He believes in “Borealis” and that’s abundantly clear when you speak with him.   His enthusiasm for the show is contagious, but then, I was already convinced.  After watching the pilot tonight I got Ty on the phone and we chatted about the “Borealis” and it’s future.

 – B  O  R  E  A  L  I  S  –  B  O  R  E  A  L  I  S  –  B  O  R  E  A  L  I  S  –  B  O  R  E  A  L  I  S

IMP:  Borealis was filmed in Alberta, right?  What’s it like filming in a less pleasant climate than Vancouver?

OLSSON:  Well, you know it’s funny.  I loved shooting in Calgary. I love Calgary town, and I love the people there and I always – a little tongue in cheek – I always say, I’m good looking in Calgary.  A little more rough around the edges, some scruff, some weight – a little husky goes a long way in Calgary as opposed to the metro feel of Vancouver.  So I love Calgary, as you can imagine, it’s good for my ego [laughs]

IMP:  What was the set like?  I noticed that a few people had worked on the same shows – it’s kind of like a who’s who of talented Canadian actors.

OLSSON:  You know what? This was my first time leading a show and it was such a great experience for me.  I’ve made a career out of being a guest on everyone else’s show it seems.  So it was a thrill for me to have the opportunity to set the tone for the show and kind of set what I wanted to work on.  I really tried to make an effort to make it as easy and friendly and fun to be on as possible.  Despite long hours we were working, everyone’s a professional.  All of us bonded really well and I’ve always believed that good energy on set comes from the top down.  Not just from myself but also trying to impress upon the crew and everybody – we’re here tryin’ to have fun and make some art and we’re all happy to be doing what we love for a living so I think it trickled down really well.  We had a set that was just really fun and easy to work on.  To the point where we had people showing up that weren’t scheduled to work.  Michelle Harrison was supposed to be done a week before the show actually wrapped up; she wanted to come. People were coming to watch the final shooting – and we really had most of the cast for the final day of shooting who weren’t even in it – just to be there

Ty Olsson as Vic Carboneau in "Borealis" // Photo © Kimberly French

Ty Olsson (rt) as Vic Carboneau in “Borealis” // Photo © Kimberly French

IMP:  Were you shooting thinking it was a pilot or a one-shot?

OLSSON:  It was always intended to be a pilot.  Even out of the gates, just the scripts, looking at the cast, it had that vibe about it of being the show to be on.  The script read so well. It was always intended to be the pilot for a series.  My understanding is The Space Channel  and BTV wanted to go ahead with it, an order for a season.  But I guess there was some stuff going on at Bell media at the time.  Sometimes, when you get new people into the fold that haven’t watched the project come up it’s hard for people to get on board.  I’m not sure it’s anybody’s fault but I think it got lost in the transition that happened there.

It was an amazing script and it ended up being an amazing pilot.  I wasn’t sure if it would have an audience.  But we’ve all seen in the last four or five days that it has a gigantic audience

IMP:  This is a terrific pilot.  I’ve seen a lot of them and this one is really cohesive.  It gives a lot of information and a tantalizing amount of back story without the overwhelming exposition that some have.  If feels to me like it should get picked up if it’s watched.  What can people do to help “Borealis” stay alive?

OLSSON:  Well, first of all, I just wanna say that I think you’ve nailed it on the head.  The problem with a pilot is you’ve gotta do a bunch of things. You’ve gotta establish the world that you’re trying to sell to people, then establish all the characters.  It’s a daunting task.  The pilot is always the hardest thing to do.  There’s just so much to give to the audience so that’s where we get the pilots that are bogged down by exposition.  This is the world we’re creating, these are the rules and the boundaries, here are the dozen people who you need to know about.  I fell like this pilot came out much more like a show from mid-season as opposed to a pilot.  And that’s despite the fact we had a lot to introduce.

I think you’re right.  The major thing is we need people to watch this.  The more people who watch it, the more people will jump on board.  The problem is we need to convince somebody that they’ve made a mistake; that this project deserves an audience and has an audience and I think it needs a chance.  It needs a season.

That’s what I’ve been doing over the last week, is just trying to get people to see it.  I’m an artist who believes in protecting artistic property but at some point it becomes – I don’t care if you get it off torrent – just watch it.

Right now we just need numbers.  We need people to see it and wanna fight for it.

Christine Horne (Svetlana), Ty Olsson (Vic Carboneau), Patrick Gallagher (Taq) // © Kimberly French

Christine Horne (Svetlana), Ty Olsson (Vic Carboneau), Patrick Gallagher (Taq) // © Kimberly French

IMP:  Is it realistic to think that with enough support and some vocals fans it could get picked up?  Is that a real possibility? 

OLSSON:  Never say never, right?  I mean, we’ve had so many people write in to space about it and we’ve had so many people respond with such positive energy.  My understanding from my producers is that we actually won the night on Space.  We had “Supernatural” before us and “Merlin” after us and we still had better numbers than them.

IMP:  That’s actually quite interesting because both of those shows have pretty dedicated fan bases.  Now you’re involved with “Supernatural”, people have seen you on a lot of shows prior to “Borealis” – does it help to bring those fans along with you?

OLSSON:  Absolutely, I’m fortunate enough to have a role on “Supernatural” this season.  And the fandom has blown me away– the most loyal and dogged fans any show could have. I mean, unbelievable.  And they’ve been instrumental in helping me try to get this show noticed.

IMP:  Vic Carboneau seems like a pretty great character.  He’s a bit like a Sheriff in a border town, he’s the  rebel  lawman, the archetypal beaten down fighter.  Is that role a role of a lifetime for an actor? 

OLSSON: Yeah, from day one it’s been a role I’ve not been able to believe my good fortune to have gotten.  Look, I’ll pat my own back a little bit – I try not to do that – I’ve done somewhere in the neighbourhood of 140 jobs and I’ve never pushed a project like I’m pushing this one.  I’ve been tweeting and facebooking and phone calling and working every angle I can to get this job noticed.  It’s not my first series, I’ve done 6 series.  This show holds a special place for me both as an artist and as an individual.  It’s just one of those things where I truly believe that it all came together to make a really, really good product.

The pilot’s not perfect.  But it’s REALLY good.  [Laughs] It’s really good.

IMP:  It is really good.

OLSSON:  And I’m the first to criticize, you know? I think you put a little piece of your heart into a project like this.  I had a little moment when I was like, okay they’re airing it.  There’s nothing I can do.  And then I got four days’ notice they were airing it.  And I thought okay I’m gonna see what I can do to drum up some viewers.  I think it is making a difference, well, it’s making a difference for me. Even  If we don’t get the miracle to happen.  It makes a difference to me because I feel vindicated because there’s probably going to be a million people who have watched this by the end of the week and I drummed up at least half of them.

I’ve spent five days on twitter.

IMP:  I was noticing you were pretty busy.

OLSSON:  No joke. I wake up and I start tweeting about my show and I go to bed tweeting about my show.  And in between I’m on facebook talking about my show and in between that I’m on the phone doing interviews like this.  I’ve done five interviews that have all come from the twitterverse.

I’ve been tapping the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) market. My fight choreographer, Paul Lazenby, who made amazing fights in the show.  With his MMA connections we’ve been getting – you know Steve Austin who’s got a million followers has retweeted us.  Renzo Gracie who’s part of the legendary Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu family retweeted us.

IMP:  Are you serious?  Sorry, I’m a bit of a UFC fan.

OLSSON: Are you a UFC fan?

IMP:  Oh yeah, totally.

OLSSON:  Check this out.  I don’t know if you noticed this ’cause it’s for the hard-core fans. When Vic is in the cage warming up before the fight starts.  He’s rolling his wrists…

IMP:  YEAH!

OLSSON: That’s a tribute to Wanderlei Silva (UFC legend).  I tweeted that to him and he re-tweeted it with a nice picture. He’s got a1/2 a million people so I think my tweets are getting to about 2 million people.

Wanderlai Silva re-Tweeting a photo of the shout out to his career

Wanderlai Silva re-Tweeting a photo of the shout out to his career

 – B  O  R  E  A  L  I  S  –  B  O  R  E  A  L  I  S  –  B  O  R  E  A  L  I  S  –  B  O  R  E  A  L  I  S

I’ve wanted to love a Canadian TV show for a very long time.  Honestly? I’m a little shocked that “Borealis” hasn’t been picked up.  Ty might say the pilot isn’t perfect, but I think it’s about as close as I’ve ever seen one come.

People need to see this.  Canadians need to see a that a Canadian Television show can be this kind of quality.  This is the kind of production that sets a high standard.

If you missed it’s debut, watch this pilot and then petition The Space Channel and Bell Media to order some new episodes.

If you live in Canada you can watch the “Borealis” pilot here on Spacecast.com

Is Twitter more your thing?  Then let @SPACEchannel / @BellMediaPR // @kevincrull know that you want to see more of this remarkable story.

Email  space@spacecast.com to let them know

Email the head of Bell Media kevin.crull@bell.ca

you’d love to see this show weekly.

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6 thoughts on ““Borealis” // A Canadian Show that Must Be Seen

  1. Pingback: Open Letter to Bell Media’s President, Kevin Crull: #Borealis: A Missed Opportunity to Promote Great Canadian Content « THE TRIAL WARRIOR BLOG

  2. Pingback: BOREALISGATE: Why Has SPACE Channel Removed Borealis Blog Comments? « THE TRIAL WARRIOR BLOG

  3. What an amazing pilot episode! I’d love to see it continue! It’s got all of the hallmarks of a great series -a very talent cast, a tight and witty script, interesting story line and intriguing characters that just beg to be fully developed and rounded out.

    And as Ty said, never underestimate the power of Supernatural fans. I’m hoping they’ll be as vocal about this series as they are SPN and help get the ball rolling.

  4. Pingback: A Beginners Guide to Canadian Screen Week

  5. How long does the Canadian public have to wait for a sequel or a series to Borealis.( probably spelled it wrong) One of the best Canadian content movies I have ever seen. The acting was superb and the story line was excellent. Please do a sequel, I am dying to know about the spikes and the intricacies in the lives of the people living in Canada’s far north.

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