Between Production Notes

The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy.

   – Alfred North Whitehead

Michael McGowan (creator, showrunner, executive producer, writer, and director)

The Question That Ignited a Series: “What would happen if there was a quarantine?”

It expanded from there and this was before Ebola. So many series, whether dystopian or post-apocalyptic, don’t really seem real. Quarantines puts people in a situation that aren’t equipped to handle it, so you have these people who are 21 and under and they have a lot of skills to do it, but without societal systems in place, like who’s the police, who’s the medical, who provides food, who does what, when that’s all gone, they still are human beings and interact as such.

Why 22 as the cutoff point? [The initial cut off was 19] I wanted to explore the age between adulthood and childhood without the safety net of normal society.

First, they’ve been through this apocalypse of seeing everyone older die, and then they have this newfound freedom of society without rules, which is appealing to everyone, especially youth.

Unlike other shows where you have zombies or the military, the engine is each other and, fortunately, the networks didn’t shy away from it. For example, we kill a seven-year old early on, and in doing that, I wanted to say no one is safe in this world because these people aren’t equipped to handle themselves in this society.

“You Don’t Want Five interchangeable Blond Guys”: It’s about humanity. We wanted the audience to feel like these people are real and exist in the world. When we were casting, we didn’t want a bland, everyone looks the same, kind of Barbie-ish thing, especially ensemble cast. This has been the nicest cast I’ve ever worked with, top to bottom, and I love having them on set, so it’s been a real pleasure.

A freakish virus hits Pretty Lake and it’s like the youth have been thrown out of the Garden of Eden: It is all so damn bleak. And even though we’re reveling in the darkness of this world, we hope there’s grace and humanity. Even though people do awful things, they also do great things. There are sort of different moral centers in the show which shift as people do under duress.

How knowing you will die at 22 changes relationships: These kids are free now; they could die at any moment. They don’t know who is going to end up with whom, who is going to survive, who is going to survive. It’s part mystery, part love story, and part survivalist drama.

Social Instincts and the Tribe: Thematically, we went for the tribes of the Creekers versus the city, Chuck and his posse of athletes. And then there’s Switzerland or the Independents, like Gord who you know tries to navigate between those two worlds.

David Cormican and Naveen Prasad (Executive Producers)

Say What You Like, But “How I got this job’ Stories Are Always Interesting: I found out about this show when I was on vacation and The Origins of Between: David Cormican: Mike called us at Don Carmody immediately booked a flight home to meet with Netflix. I read two scripts, Television (DCTV) and said, “I’ve got this crazy idea. I’d like for you guys to read fell in love, met Michael McGowan, the Creator, Executive Producer, met this script. I could be totally crazy and this might be nothing.” We were kind of more people from Netflix, read a couple more scripts and the more blown away. We talked to a few people, and said, “Are we crazy? Is this as good involved I got the more excited I was about the possibility of being a part of as we think it is?”

Naveen Prasad: Funnily enough, a few years earlier I actually sat down for lunch with Mike talking about what kind he’d like to do television side. Lo and behold, it worked out that through David and Don, who brought me on board, I got to actually work with Michael on a series.

Forget the Elevator Pitch… We Cornered Netflix on a Gondola – for real:

NP: At the Banff Media Festival, we met with Netflix and took a ride up Sulphur Mountain on the gondola. That’s where we made the pitch.

DC: We cornered them on a gondola.

NP: The beautiful thing is that they were clearly engaged, not even looking at thesurroundings which were stunning.

It Doesn’t Get More Perfect Than This: DC: We were a little cheeky when we were pitching Rogers. We were in the room and we said, look Mike had just won Director of the Year for Still Mine, Don had just won Producer of the Year for The Mortal Instruments and Nataline, our broadcast executive, had just won Broadcast Executive of the Year.

Feeding the Beast: DC: Addictive television is a function of great writing and diabolical plotting. We are delivering Between for a potential binge audience so we had to factor in what it will look like if everyone watches six episodes straight.

NP: Historically I’ve always worked with feature film, and all of a sudden television programming has been elevated. The production values have gone up, and you have great directors who work both mediums. There are a lot of people who’ve said, “I’d rather do television because you can really get into a character and you have many hours, many hours to develop that character.” Now, if audiences love a story on television, they can spend hours watching that great story.

Jennette McCurdy

Jennette’s Secret: I’m a huge fan of survivalist-type shows; Lost is one of my favourite series ever. I love any show that has an ensemble dynamic where you get to know the background of different characters and you don’t get too sick of anyone because you’re personally invested in a lot of them.

What Jennette likes about Wiley: Wiley has a cynicism and an aggression to her that I relate to, as terrible as that sounds, but deep down she’s got a sincerity and a very deep-rooted sensitivity that I can also relate to. Wiley was raised in a really religious background that she rebels against because she doesn’t necessarily feel like that’s her place. She’s an outcast, has a loner mentality, except for her in her friendship with Adam.

She’s angry and feels misunderstood, which is what leads her to be rude and sarcastic and brazen. She’s very much still a child. Her head’s spinning. She doesn’t know how to please her parents or her sister, she doesn’t have anybody else to please because she doesn’t have any friends, and she certainly doesn’t know how to please herself. So she’s just throwing stuff at a wall and hoping that it sticks and so far, not too much does.

About being in a Group: I think the cool thing about each of the main characters is that they don’t necessarily fit into their designated group.

They’re just there because of necessity. In some scenes you get to see where the characters interact with some of the members of other groups and I love those- it reminds me of how we settle into one situation merely because of circumstance versus because we actually belong there.

Funniest Scene to Act: It’s an Adam and Wiley scene on church steps where we’re talking about trying to escape from town. It was freezing outside. We look into each other’s eyes, a very serious heart-to-heart moment and suddenly, my nose started to run. I tried to keep going, but nope, didn’t happen. I just felt the waterfall.

This is “date and debate” TV: It’s genre-defying. It doesn’t stick too close to one particular thing, it kind of has a voice of its own and it’s got romance, mystery and the whole thriller survivalist element. When people see the show, four different people could see the same scene and have a different takeaway from it, and to me that’s great television. I love to watch a show where I have a completely different reaction from the same scene as the person sitting next to me.

Jesse Carere

The Quiet One: Adam is planning to go to MIT before the virus breaks out.

He’s a smart guy with a good head on his shoulders, maybe a chip on his shoulder. He’s a little bit dark, and gets darker and darker as this show progresses. He’s fighting something inside himself, his own fears, and so he’s trying to escape the whole time. The pain of his father leaving him earlier in his life is what he doesn’t want to address and the situation they’re put in, causes inner turmoil to surface. Because the comfort’s stripped away from them, it makes them have to deal with what’s going on inside.

Is Adam a Conspiracy Theorist? Adam’s trying to find the truth about what’s happening within Pretty Lake and if the government has anything to do with the virus. While the internet is still up and running, he’s always on the computer hacking or investigating. He tries to stay out of the drama within the groups and focuses on finding the truth about what’s happened.

Unrequited Whatever: His heart is probably with Wiley, who he’s liked for awhile, but he’s not quite sure if she likes him back. Wiley is rather mysterious. She doesn’t give away too much and I think that’s what attracts Adam to her. She’s interesting and also she cares about him. She’s also his only friend.

Acting Safety Zone: I like conversational scenes the best. I like just heavy dialogue between two people talking. Those are my favourite scenes, so I love the scenes I have with Jennette and with Shailene, who plays Ms. Symonds.

On the Social Zeitgeist of Survivalist Shows: I don’t know if the post-apocalyptic rumours, like with end of the world in Dec, 2012 according to the Long Count Mayan calendar, started something. But it seems like that’s when survivalist shows became popular. Three years later, the world hasn’t ended, but the survivalist thing is still thriving. It’s exciting to watch those types of shows or movies because it’s primal and a lot of our life suppresses that. As a culture we are too comfortable. I think exploring dark themes is healthy.

Pining for the Days of Retro-technology: I love that Between has stripped technology away. I’m not saying anything bad about technology in movies or on TV, but maybe it’s a nostalgic thing. I like thinking about the days when I was a kid, playing outside instead of on a computer. They didn’t have all this technology then. It was just face-to-face talking and that’s what you get in this series.

Kyle Mac

How World Events Collide with Art: The Ebola epidemic actually made it a lot easier to relate to. I mean it’s very relative. The world that we live in now, things like Ebola and unknown viruses and stuff are not really, it’s not that uncommon that this type of thing could potentially happen so there’s a lot of reality to it, which makes it very easy to come to as an actor because

I feel like it lives in reality, I don’t think it’s completely out of the realm of possibility that something like that could happen in the world that we live in today.

Who is Ronnie? Ronnie’s a little bit misunderstood. He’s had a tough life, growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in a poor, tightly knit family. He left school some time ago to flourish in his own personal career and when this whole thing happens in this town, he was already trying to get out.

Ronnie struggles with some serious issues and is slowly getting a bit closer to coming through to the other side.

Cool Audition Story: I hadn’t received any scripts before, so I came in with my own idea of Ronnie. The audition scene was in the car with Pat talking about wanting to be a big-time drug dealer one day. I played it with sunglasses, like the coolest dude ever in town. Literally the first thing

Michael said was, “Okay, you can lose the sunglasses, you can lose the whole, whatever that thing is that you’re doing. Just play it straight.” It totally changed everything that I’d prepared. Michael called Ronnie a snake always in recoil, like, you never know when he’s going to snap, you don’t know what he’s going to do. I’ve played it that way since.

Brothers: Pat is key to Ronnie’s story and his only moral compass. Ronnie loves him like a father. The Creekers may be rougher people from the wrong side, but they are very family bonded.

How to play the bad guy: I do bad things as this character and I have to get personally close to some of these people in order to do them. I have to hold a knife to Krystal’s throat and I have intense scenes with Wiley. You have to build relationships and trust with people before you can just jump right into those scenes.

The virus, as a concept: It truly is innocence lost from these kids. Everyone has lost their parents, most of their friends and family.

Everything they’ve ever planned for their lives, everything they ever looked forward to, any dream they ever had is literally stripped away. They’re left to fend for themselves and figure out how to get on with their life.

Krystal Nausbaum

Who is Amanda? My character is in her teens and is mentally handicapped. Her parents have died and so she is really tight with her brother, Chuck, who is really there for her because she doesn’t understand about these different situations. Chuck is part of a gang of people who know how to deal with things. And my character doesn’t know what is going to happen, which is part of her disability. Another thing about

Amanda’s character is that she is obsessed with numbers and with time, so she is always looking at her watch.

On having a disability and getting the chance to play a character with that disability: Michael said he is honoured to have me playing this character, Amanda. Often, when they write a role with disabilities, they want people who don’t have a disability to be doing that role. And it’s really unfair, because there’s a lot of other people out there who have disabilities and are really good actors and actresses, like me. And some of the people don’t understand that they can do these roles, which they can. So everyone here is very supportive of having me on board on this project.

Brooke Palsson

Who is Melissa? She’s Wiley’s nutty religious, older sister who’s dedicated to her faith which you think could be a beautiful thing, but she’s a little extreme sometimes. Her beliefs overshadow her respect for her sister. Her heart’s in the right place, but her beliefs become a little too intense so she sees that people who aren’t trying are beneath her.

On Being the Exact Age of the Oldest People in Pretty Lake and what if this happened to you: I truly believe I wouldn’t get out of bed for a week. I’d get me some Häagen-Dazs and cuddle up into my covers. I think at some point I’d get up, but I really have respect for these characters for really taking it on.

On Melissa’s Love interests (Plural) and How Brooke’s Mom Reacted: Seems like everyone has like a double love interest in the show, which gives you some options. And when Melissa starts developing an interest in inmate Mark, I texted my mom, saying, “Mom, I’ve got a second love interest with an inmate.” She texted me back, “Brooke, this needs to stop.”

She thought I was texting her about me. Is this really what my mom expects of me? Back to the show, Ryan, who plays Gord, is awesome, and it’s not hard to play in love with him because he is such a loveable guy.

Ryan Allen’s (Gord) Secret: The first day that we worked together I was in my trailer and Ryan was right next to me. I felt like Christine in Phantom of the Opera, because I could hear this beautiful, haunting voice through the wall of my trailer, and I thought, “Who is this angel?” And out walks Ryan (who is a trained opera singer) in all his glory and I’m like, “Alright, I’m okay with this setup.”

Ryan Allen

Who is Gord? Gord is a dairy farmer, and he enjoys providing for others, being able to produce things and give to the community. He has aspirations of joining the army for that very reason. Gord has a younger sister, named Franny, who is the cutest person in this show and will probably steal every scene you see her in because you can’t help but smile at her face. She is Robin to his Batman or in many cases vice-versa, and there’s great love between them.

The Second Time was the Charm – This Time it’s Just Easy: The first time I worked with Michael I was in a film where my scene was cut. I saw Michael afterwards, who said, “It’s not your fault. It just didn’t work.” He hired me again for another film where I was a hockey player, and I love playing hockey. And this third time, I wouldn’t say the third time’s the charm because it’s always been pretty good, but because of the familiarity we have, it’s a lot easier to feel comfortable.

Getting Up Close and Really Personal with a Cow (or That’s What You Should Expect When Playing a Farmer): The most difficult scene I had to do mentally was the birthing of the calf, simply because this is a very large animal and I don’t have much experience with this.

But this is Gord’s whole life. To compound things and make it a little more interesting, they did give the cow a tranquilizer so it wouldn’t run away. Now in their whole lives, these cows see maybe the three farmhands that work there, a farmer who owns it, and a vet and here we are with an entire film crew and these big cameras pointing at them. So the adrenaline spiked in the cow and it didn’t react to the tranquilizer as well as the vet thought it would. So the first time we were about to shoot the cow gets up and bolts, pushing the vet against a fence. It’s a little bit terrifying. And we give it a little bit more tranq and it goes back down. Jon [Cassar] turns to me and says, “Alright, now get behind it.” And I was like, “I don’t think so. I don’t want this thing to get me.” And I learned something valuable that day – cows can’t go backwards or sideways. They can only go forward. So being behind it, birthing it, I was in the safest position possible.

On The Popularity of Survival Stories: I have my theory that we live in an age where things are so technologically advanced that we rely on our gadgets. It’s refreshing for people to watch other human in a situation where so much of that is taken away and we’re reduced to a state that is closer to where we once were and to raise the stakes and have it be life or death.

Justin Kelly

Are you anything like Chuck? No, oh dear no. He’s more hot-headed than I am. He’s a leader and I’m more of a follower. He’s trying to organize everything and he’s much better at hockey than I am. I can’t play hockey to save my life.

The team jacket makes the man. This is my power jacket. We’ve only shot two scenes without me wearing it and I feel powerless without it. But there’s his posture, too. I catch myself doing the ‘Chuck pose’ where my back goes up and the chin goes up.

The hidden soft side of Chuck: He takes what he wants and what he needs, but he loves his sister Amanda more than anything and he will do whatever it takes to protect her. In some ways, when he wants to protect the town, he wants to protect his family and that’s his little sister who he would die for.

Shailyn Pierre-Dixon

Who is Frances? She is an 11-year-old girl, the sister of Gord, and she’s brave and she has a lot of attitude so I find her a little bit like me. I like her.

On being the only actor who had to play opposite a live tiger: It was awesome, but nerve-wracking because I didn’t know what to expect. But it was cool seeing a real live tiger running at me. I expected he would be pouncing a lot and roaring, but he was calm and seemed to know what was going on. He’s been in the business for a while. Robbie, the tiger, was taller than I expected and skinnier. It was also the first day I’d ever handled a shotgun, too. It was really heavy and hard to hold. There was one really scary moment when the tiger got loose and everyone froze. He went right passed the cow barn and into the hay barn.

Another Secret About Ryan Allen: Ryan is a lot like Gord. They both are funny even in the serious situations. He’s a little bit sarcastic sometimes, which I find very funny, but he’s serious, he’s strong and that’s exactly what Ryan is like.

Jim Watson

A Non-Alpha Character Thrown into an Alpha Role: Pat is the oldest of the characters from the Creekers’ side of the town, with a brother and sister. He becomes the pseudo leader of that pack without ever putting his foot forward to do that.  The Creekers are from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s not a bad guy, but just had a lot of family pressure. On top of that he has to fight the big, bad, rich boys who come in and take care of his clan, so he gets the leadership role pretty quickly.

Living in a World where Birthdays are No Longer Something to Look Forward to: My character is 20, so he’s getting close. He’s on the edge, waking up every morning going, “I’m a day older, a day closer.”

Who’s The Villain: Every show needs a villain, and arguably I could be the villain. It depends on what side you’re sitting on. Kyle thinks Ronnie is the villain. Everyone thinks he’s the villain, but Chuck is my villain and Justin does such a great job balancing that rich-boy you just want to hit in the teeth, but at the same time I think as an audience member you look at him and you sympathize. His parents are just awful people, you know, he’s a product.

The cast joining alongside Jennette McCurdy in the new series includes:

  • Jesse Carere (Skins), who plays Adam, a young loner, trying to crack the mystery of what has happened to their town
  • Ryan Allen (Copper), who plays Gord, an old soul who is used to solving problems
  • Shailyn P. Dixon (The Book of Negroes), who plays Frances, Gord’s younger sister who is responsible – but fearless
  • Justin Kelly (Degrassi: The Next Generation), who plays Chuck, a rich and handsome jock
  • Krystal Nausbaum (The Rainbow Kid), who plays Chuck’s young sister Amanda, who has special needs
  • Brooke Palsson (Less Than Kind), who plays Melissa, a religious young woman who takes care of all the orphaned children in the town
  • Kyle Mac (Carrie), who plays Ronnie, a young man that has dark soul and can’t be trusted
  • Jim Watson (The Strain), who plays Pat, one of the teens living on the wrong side of town
  • Jordan Todosey (Degrassi: The Next Generation), who plays Tracey, Pat’s older sister
  • Shailene Garnett (The Best Man Holiday) who plays Ms. Symonds, a young teacher at the high school who takes a special interest in Adam

 

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