The day I visited the set of CBC's Heartland - Part 1

IMG_20141112_104836 A few months ago (October 12th, 2014 to be exact) I did something pretty cool, actually scratch cool. Insert AWESOME. I got to do something pretty awesome, and something not many people ever get to do. I got to visit the set of Heartland on CBC and watch them film scenes from season 8, Episodes 15 and 16, to be exact.

Well, Episode 15 aired last night. And since I live in the dark ages and don't have cable or satellite, I'm just sitting down now to watch the episode on the CBC website. 

Already 2:30 minutes in is a scene that I saw filmed...on location! The telescope scene. They had to do that short, 30-second scene probably a dozen times. Every camera angle you see? That's a different take. If anyone thinks that actors have it easy, think again. I know I certainly wouldn't be able to handle performing the same lines over and over and over again in exactly the same way. And yet they do it each and every day, and they're happy to do it!

And then there is Shaun Johnston (Jack). He was incredible. Between takes of the telescope scene, where he walks in at the end, he kept running over to talk to me. So he'd run, we'd exchange a few words and then he'd have to run back and say his lines. He did this between each and every take, just to make us feel welcome, and to get to know us. And he had a special request--that he be cast in a future Christine Steendam novel as a love interest... What do you think? A future Foremost novel?

By the way, Georgie (Alisha Newton), Amy (Amber Marshall), and Lou (Michelle Morgan) are the most friendly people ever. From the moment I met Michelle she wanted to know all about me and my sister, and about my writing. She readily answered my questions and cheerfully put up with my being totally star-struck.

Alisha (Georgie) was as excited to meet me(!) as I was to meet her! I got to chat with her for quite a while. She's just the sweetest girl you'd ever want to meet. We talked horses and acting and what it's like for her to be on such a popular show.

And Amber (Amy) is kept running non-stop but even she came over, said hello, offered a smile and exchanged a few words between scenes. You can tell that she really cares about the fans of this show. She's still a down-to-earth Canadian country girl despite all her success--and that's part of the reason why I love this show. Because the actors are just as genuine as the characters they play.

It's really cool to see the people behind the show, get a glimpse behind-the-scenes and then see that translated into television. Michelle Morgan (Lou) did an amazing job with the powerful emotion in this episode. And the transitions between the present and flashbacks was so well done. That moment when Lou revealed to Amy what was going on... absolutely heartbreaking. I knew it was coming, but I didn't get to see that scene filmed and despite knowing what was coming it still hit me hard.

Norma Bailey, a well-known Winnipeg-based director, did a remarkable job of balancing all of the intense emotion with the lighter comic elements of this episode. It's beautifully shot and the Alberta landscape seems to tell it's own story. I'd like to offer a very special thanks to Norma for inviting me to the set. Without her, I would never have had this incredible experience.

So as I'm sitting here, writing down my thoughts as I watch the episode, reliving the experience of being on set I'm seeing one of my favorite shows from a whole new perspective. It's a really neat position to be in. I can't wait to see episode 16 and I'll definitely be sharing more of my experience once that airs next week Sunday, March 15th.