Cameras are rolling in Toronto on Open Heart, a live-action teen drama that is the first production from Epitome Pictures following the company’s acquisition by DHX Media.
“It’s been so nice having the support of DHX, and this is right in their wheelhouse – the reason we got together was to bring the teen audience and teen content into their world,” Stephen Stohn, president of Epitome Pictures and executive producer on Open Heart, told Playback Daily.
The series was developed by Epitome Pictures six years ago and a pilot was shot, but the project was unable to move forward after TeenNick took a pass on the show, Stohn said. However, YTV and TeenNick expressed an interest in revisiting the project, and Epitome brought Ramona Barckert on board as showrunner, producer and executive producer. YTV and TeenNick have commissioned 12, half-hour episodes of the series and are aiming to have it on air by January 2015.
“Both broadcasters are working together – ideally, they would both love to broadcast day-and-date,” Stohn said.
Open Heart, which follows the story of teen Dylan Blake as she tries to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance, will also feature a significant multimedia component that will be produced by marblemedia. In addition to a social media campaign, the show will have an accompanying app where viewers can follow along with developments in the series. For example, when Dylan finds a clue on the show, users would get an alert on their mobile device saying that something has been “pinned” to their “pinboards,” and they can see what clue Dylan has collected.
The series will shoot in Epitome’s Toronto studio until the end of October. The budget for Open Heart comes in at over $600,000 per episode, Stohn said. The series received financial support from the Shaw Rocket Fund, the Cogeco Program Development Fund and the Bell Fund.
The series stars Karis Cameron (pictured) as Dylan Blake, along with Tori Anderson, Justin Kelly, Cristine Prosperi, Kevin McGarry, Patrick Kwok-Choon, Jenny Cooper, Demore Barnes, Elena Juatco, Mena Massoud and Dylan Everett.
In addition to Stohn and Barckert, Open Heart is executive produced by Linda Schuyler, Matt Hornburg and Mark Bishop. The series was developed in association with marblemedia. Directors on the project are Stefan Brogen and Samir Rehem, with Barckert, Chris Pozzebon, Scott Oleszkowicz, Brendan Gall, Brendon Yorke and Barbara Haynes serving as writers. The worldwide distribution of the series will be handled by DHX.
- Karis Cameron photo courtesy of Stephen Scott
- From Playback