North of 60 Interview: Gary Harvey

"Another Country" was the first "North of 60" experience for veteran director Gary Harvey.
As the director, he had to be on set for every scene, so we only had a brief chance to talk
after he finished lunch one day. Also in the room was "North of 60" publicist Fran Humphreys.

PW: You haven't directed on "North of 60" before, right? Not the series, not the movies? I know you've been working on "Tom Stone," so you're familiar with the producers and the crew. But was it weird for you to drop into this longtime "family"?

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GH: It was lucky the way it turned out--well, unlucky partly I guess, because I didn't get to work with these guys as long--because the story took place mostly in Calgary and we dealt with new characters. The work the that I did get to do with the folks that live in the town here was much smaller. But as a result, I got to know their backgrounds, I got to know their relationships with one another in a much smaller way. If I got the lucky opportunity to come back and do it again, it would be a much simpler process to come back. But there was no huge learning curve because we were dealing with much smaller sort of deals with these people here.

One of the things you have to deal with in something that's got as long a franchise as this is, "Who does what to who? Who says what to who? What are your relationships?" We've had those instances certainly in this movie where those kind of questions have come up. But because of the nature of the story, not as much as normal. So gradually, but in a very small sense, in a very slow sense, I've been able to learn what those are. I've been able to do it gradually. For someone to come in who's never done the show before to do an entire show in Lynx River with the characters here would be an enormous learning curve.

PW: So for instance, the previous movie, "Dream Storm," which not only had all the usual characters but also very complex ways in which they were relating with the mystical happenings and everything, that would have been tougher to drop into.

GH: Absolutely. That's exactly what I mean. Luckily, I think Stacey [Stewart Curtis] had a background with "North of 60" prior to that.

PW: Oh yes, she'd directed many of the series episodes.

GH: So she had solid ground to stand on when she came in. But again, as I say, we spent two and a half weeks shooting with all-new characters to "North of 60"--with the exception, of course, of Michelle and Teevee, and some of Bertha as well. That allowed me to learn the relationships a little easier, because by the time I got up here, I sort of had the lay of the land just from talking with them over the two and a half weeks prior to that. There's been a couple of instances--Tim was one--where I've had to go, "How would you react to this?" I couldn't bring that to him; I had to actually ask him to bring it to me.

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PW: How Harris would respond to a certain situation?

GH: How Harris would respond to Elsie, in this case here. Those kind of things I'll just store away, and hopefully if I get an opportunity to do it again, I can bring that back to it.

PW: Did you feel like you needed to somehow keep a connection to Lynx River even with so much of this movie set in Calgary? Obviously the script would determine a lot of whether that happened, but did you have any other ways of doing it? If you felt that it was necessary, that is.

GH: Certainly during the course of the story we jump back and forward between Lynx River and Calgary, but a lot of it is set in Calgary. I know we made a conscious effort at the beginning to keep those two worlds separate. And in the way that we shot it, the way the show looks, there's definitely a difference between what life is like in Calgary and what it's like in Lynx River.

PW: And yet these were people from Lynx River coming down there. They would react differently in Calgary than if you were just shooting a Calgary cop drama.

GH: And certainly they did. The connection back here, though, because the story in Calgary was so full, it didn't service the script more than was necessary, in terms of bopping back here for a scene or two. As long as Michelle was in Calgary with Teevee, the story remained there. And both of these characters have made numerous trips to the city, so they weren't all that different in the city than one might think.

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PW: So it wasn't as though they needed to act really out of place.

GH: Yeah, they're not really fish out of water. That's not what this is about. Although to some degree, I suppose, you can project that on the characters when you see it.

PW: Certainly a lot of us remember how out of place Michelle felt when she was in Calgary looking for her missing daughter. Speaking of old episodes, did you watch the show when it was first on?

GH: Oh yeah, I've seen it quite a few times. That particular scene you were mentioning, on the very first day of shooting we shot in that very park where Michelle goes to and has a conversation there. We didn't play on it, we didn't build it up at all, but I'm sure that Tina carried it with her.

PW: Yeah, I understand there's no reference to the Hannah storyline in this movie.

GH: Not at all. We weren't purposely trying to keep it out. It just didn't necessarily fit. And I might not have known then, but I know now that if Tina had felt it was necessary to bring it in, we would have brought it in.

FH: She would have played it out. We talked about that a little bit. At some point she might have made an offering at that spot. Some of the audience would really know, and others wouldn't.

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Text and photos (c) 2002 Patricia F. Winter.

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