I was recently in Halifax, Nova Scotia for a fundraiser weekend and some sightseeing with the family…I had the fortune on the way home to make a short stop in nearby Chester – the seaside town which plays host to the production of Syfy’s Haven, standing in for the fictional Maine town.
Haven is in the midst of an interesting period of production. They recently received a “double order” for episodes for the fifth season, a total of 26 episodes. So while they’d normally be getting ready to wrap up production for the season, they are actually just a bit past the first half of a filming schedule that will take them through most of December, block shooting two episodes at a time.
Because of the timing, we were unable to take any photographs of the sets – never know when you might accidentally photograph a spoiler! We did get one picture of the family with a couple people you might recognize…
But that is as much as you’ll see of the set until Season 5 premieres Thursday at 8/7c!
On this day, they are working on a scene in Dwight’s office, featuring Dwight (Adam “Edge” Copeland), Nathan (Lucas Bryant) and Vince (Richard Donat). Between camera and light blocking I was able to have a chat with Adam and Lucas.
Doc: What is it like dealing with the double episode filming?
Adam: Lucas and I were just doing that, just now. It’s like, “Where did we just come from? What did we just do?” Because you’re doing a completely different episode the scene before. You’re doing double episodes, let’s say Episode 511, second scene, and now we’re in Episode 512, Scene 20, and it’s like, “Whoa, wait a minute…what did we just do? Where are we going?” Trying to map that out is always a little bit of a challenge, and part of your job is to know, so it can kind of influence what you are doing in a scene. Now with two episodes it’s kind of daunting sometimes. What’s great is that we have people here where that’s their job to remember that stuff. It gets confusing, but if that’s one of the toughest parts of your job, then you’re doing OK.
Lucas: It’s actually worked out very well. I was a little nervous. We’re shooting two episodes at a time, so that can be a bit confusing, chronologically, and just keeping your head straight with where you are and what is going on. But the way it’s worked out schedule-wise has meant surprisingly that this has been the easiest season as far as the actors are concerned, our schedules, we’ve had more time off than ever. It doesn’t make it easier on the crew, or anyone else who has been working on the show, but personally it’s worked out well for us. Having that time off then allows you to get more focused and get your head back, to remember what it is we are actually doing, because it is tricky doing two at a time. But so far I can’t believe it – we are almost halfway through.
Adam: It is busy…with the two episodes everything moves faster. Which can help, because you can use that energy to feed through some of these scenes where it is needed, normally by this point we’re getting ready to finish, and we’re only at the halfway. It’s a different preparation and you just get wired to the thirteen episodes and then we’re done. Nope, nope, we’re halfway done. And here comes winter in Nova Scotia…
Doc: It’s going to be different shooting in an actual winter situation up here.
Adam: Even getting from home to set is going to be different, let alone setting up outside. Any shots outside are going to be really, really interesting. When we first get out here in April, we’re wearing parkas. December is going to be interesting. [laughs]
Doc: It’s nice and cool up here in the summer. Trying to shoot something that takes place in winter, I know with Eureka they were doing it in the middle of summer wearing heavy jackets…
Adam: Yeah, I’m a larger individual that sweats, and with the bullet proof vest, and sometimes a jacket, and then a long-sleeved Henley and jeans and it’s like 85 out, and man, I’m dying…so me personally I would rather shoot in the cold, because I can always put layers on, but I can’t take my skin off.
Lucas: I’m excited to see what that looks like. It will probably be a challenge to shoot in to the colder weather, but on screen I think it could be very cool. We start shooting in April, which can still feel like winter for sure, but there isn’t much snow on the ground, and when there has been snow – which there was when we started this year we had a couple scenes that snow fell in, they’ve tried to avoid it. So I think shooting it on purpose, if we get a good snowfall, it will be really good. I don’t know yet what it will be like to do, but I’m excited to see the end result.
Doc: How’s Dwight doing?
Adam: What’s really been nice is the just gradual progression of the character. It’s kind of this happy accident that happened for all of us, for Haven and happened for me, personally, because we didn’t know what either of us were kind of getting in to with each other. Is this going to work, isn’t it? But what they did is they made it much easier for it to work for me. I was able to get my feet wet, and start to get an idea of even what a set is all about, and how spacing and lighting and not blocking lighting, all the technical aspects that I just didn’t know from the limited experience I had before this. Now I can feel like I can walk on a set and I get it. So that’s been amazing. With learning all that, and they’ve written this character in such a way that he’s really grown each season. That’s been awesome, and they’ve been taking him new places, and if they throw more challenges at him, I’ll be like, “OK, this is good, this is a good sign. That means me doing something right, just keep plugging away and keep working. And what I did the last two years is I actually took classes. I didn’t just leave those muscles to atrophy in the off season. I went, “OK, I enjoy this and I want to do this,” so I wanted to keep flexing them, so that when I walk on the set I already feel like I’m in a groove. This year felt like my strongest yet, from a comfort standpoint too. I’m not feeling quite so out of my element. And even the first season I did because people were so kind. And I was going to say it but he was standing right there, about the guy I did my first scene with…
Lucas: Say it.
Adam: OK, the guy I REALLY liked was Richard Donat…
Lucas: Oh? What the hell? [laughter]
Adam: It’s been a lot of fun. This year specifically, trying different things and just more comfort level. With more comfort comes taking more chances, and realizing you’ve got to commit to those chances once you take them. It’s been a lot of fun discovering all that stuff.
Doc: Adam, was it a tough transition, going from wrestling with a severe injury?
Adam: No…they said they couldn’t clear me to wrestle. It really made it a whole lot easier. “OK, I can’t do it.”
D: Was acting the first thing you thought of?
Adam: No, I didn’t think of anything. I thought of sitting on my deck and growing a big beard. That’s what I thought of. And then within 3 or 4 days I got a call from WWE saying that Haven was interested in having me on the show, and I went, “Alright, yeah, that will be fun.” It was just one episode, that was kind of the extent of it. And we both had fun I think, so one episode turned into four, turned into seven, and the next season turned into nine, and now 26 episodes this season.
Doc: Was it the guest spots on Sanctuary that got them interested in having you on Haven?
Adam: No. They saw my retirement speech, and it was, “Oh , wait, if we want to have a wrestling tie in, this guy just retired, and he can obviously speak, so let’s see if that will work.” And lo and behold, it just kind of did. [ See Edge’s retirement announcement here. ]
Doc: With the conclusion of last season, how are things changing for this season? Is there a tone change? Last season being focused on the cause of everything, whereas previous seasons were more about the mystery…where do they go from here?
Lucas: This year we get more into the cause, the background mythology stuff. But for Nathan, at the end of last season it seems like something has happened at the very end to Audrey, it’s about the consequences of that, and Audrey is and has always been the center of Nathan’s universe and that’s his story for this season, how to get her back and have her all to himself.
I think everything this year, tonally, is continuing in that, correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like the show has been moving to that darker…
Doc: Yes, last season, getting in to that mythology it did seem darker…
Lucas: We’ve sort of continued in that vein. And I think that some of it is sort of a chicken and the egg thing too. The writers and creators of this season needed to find a way to keep these episodes lean and shootable, and so I think a way to do that is we’re shooting a lot of handheld this year, which speeds up the shooting process and that gives a real “immediate” feeling to these scenes, a bit more grittiness, so I think things are more quicker paced, and a bit more dangerous, and hopefully exciting.
Doc: Have the double episodes allowed a deeper story?
Lucas: One of the things that does get stretched out more, which I’ve really enjoyed, because we’re shooting two episodes at a time – we’re seeing Troubles that span multiple episodes more so than in the past, when we had often a case every week. There was some carry-over in the effects of those cases, etc. But we sort of wrapped it up in an episode. This year we’re seeing more two-episode Trouble arcs and longer weaving of those stories. I’ve really enjoyed that, because it means we get to see more of the effect that those have on those characters rather than just doing the procedural stuff.
Doc: Very early on it was very episodic, done, done, done…and last season it was a season-long arc, plus the individual things, so seeing more stretched stories, more time to go in depth instead of having to wrap it up in 42 minutes…
Lucas: I think it’s worked out well. It’s certainly worked out from my perspective in the shooting of it, hopefully it works on the TV too…
After our chat, we had the opportunity to watch the actual filming of the scene they have been working on. I won’t spoil anybody with the contents or dialog, but what was interesting when you see an actual production in process is all the work that goes in to shoot just a few minutes of screen time. All the blocking that takes place, then the lighting moves in based on the positions of the actors and cameras, all before the scene actually shoots. And then the filming itself, which is probably the smallest part overall but several takes may still be needed. It gives a whole new perspective on the production.
Many thanks to Lucas, Adam, the entire crew and especially Skana Gee for putting up with us and giving us the tour! We can’t wait for Season 5!