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Press: Ahead of ‘Orphan Black’ Final Season, Show’s Producers Release Mobile Mystery-Puzzle Game for Clone Fans

Sci-fi series “Orphan Black” will air its farewell season this summer. On Friday, the production company behind the show, Boat Rocker Media, is launching a mobile game to kindle excitement among Clone Club fans leading up to the series finale — and its creators believe the app will have a life that extends well beyond the TV run.

“Orphan Black: The Game” is a turn-based adventure puzzle game retelling key plots points from seasons 1-4 in the form of what Boat Rocker calls “fever-dream worlds” with a nightmarish art style. Players control the clone sestras (played in the show by Tatiana Maslany) as they fight enemies, avoid traps and solve riddles. The game launches Friday, March 24, priced at $4.99 (U.S.) in Apple’s iTunes App Store. Initially, it’s available only for iOS.

“It was important that there was a mystery, conspiracy feel to the game,” John Fawcett, who co-created “Orphan Black” with Graeme Manson, said in an interview. “That really locks into the theme of the show.”

The game features virtually all the clone sisters — Sarah, Cosima, Alison, Helena, Rachel, Beth, MK, Katja, Tony and Krystal — with more than 80 levels across 10 different worlds. Unlike the TV show, “Orphan Black: The Game” presents the storylines in a chronological fashion. Fawcett noted that in the game, the story begins with a prologue of events that happen before season 1 even starts, with “MK leading us in the forest to Beth.” (The show’s fans, we presume, will understand what he’s talking about.)

Maslany, who won the 2016 Emmy for best actress in a drama series for “Orphan Black,” provided voiceovers for the game. That includes a signature line she delivers when players reach the end of each world, said Bryce Hunter, senior VP of Boat Rocker Digital. “The grunts and death sounds are her voice as well,” he said.

The game also includes a variety of Easter eggs, including a secret world that players can uncover at the end. But the Boat Rocker guys refused to spill the beans on any of that.

Hunter said the company started assembling a team to develop the game in 2014, and began production on “Orphan Black: The Game” last year. Why hasn’t the studio produced a game for the show until now? After all, given the dystopian-tech vibe of the TV show, a game is a natural fit. Most of the clones don’t know about their sisters when the story starts, and as the show unfolds they’re forced to fight the forces behind the mysterious experiment as they race to solve the ultimate explanation for their existence.

“There were logistical hoops,” Hunter said. “We brought in a very focused, experienced team to dive into the world of ‘Orphan Black.’” Developers tested about 10 different gameplay types to make sure it would fit with the feel of the show and meet fan expectations. “Orphan Black: The Game” uses Unity Technologies’ game engine.

Fawcett, who spoke to Variety during a break in shooting this week for the series finale, said Boat Rocker is readying the launch of other projects related to the show, including a comic-book series at the end of March. “We’re hoping get fans champing at the bit to see season 5,” Fawcett said.

The fifth and final season premieres June 10, on BBC America in the U.S. and Canada’s Space network. “Orphan Black” is produced by Boat Rocker Studios’ Temple Street division in association with BBC America and Bell Media’s Space.

Fawcett said the last season spends a lot of time on Neolution Island and on the clones’ attempts to dismantle the Neolutionist patriarchy. “It’s been a crazy, crazy experience for us – every other day there’s been another main character wrapping, never to be seen again,” he said. “Our wrap party felt more like a funeral than a celebration.” For Fawcett, the most difficult character to bid goodbye to was Allison Hendrix, the suburban housewife, whom he said was probably his favorite of the clones.

On Wednesday, BBC America released a few cryptic details of what’s coming in season 5. Here’s the teaser: “This season, the walls close in on Sarah when nearly all her sestras and their allies are brought to heel by Rachel. Even more harrowing is that her daughter Kira has joined them. With the threat of Neolution having carte-blanche access to clone biology, Sarah is desperate to gain control, but realizes she must change tactics to pursue a long game. Protecting both her families, and the host of clones she’s yet to meet, Sarah and those still fighting the fight will uncover the missing pieces of the insidious conspiracy – and finally learn the story behind their origin. Despite the great risk, the fight of her life will either set her and her sestras free, or see them meet their end.”

At launch, “Orphan Black: The Game” will incorporate plot points and characters from the first four seasons, and Boat Rocker expects to introduce season 5 level packs later. As for why the company is launching it as a premium game, Hunter said that fans overwhelming preferred that model instead of it being a free-to-play game with in-app purchases.
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Watch the teaser trailer for “Orphan Black: The Game”:

Press: Tatiana Maslany Talks ‘Emotional’ End of ‘Orphan Black’

“Orphan Black” fans, known as the Clone Club, got a special treat at PaleyFest — a very early look at the Season 5 premiere, which won’t air until early June. The company had wrapped production on the farewell season a mere 36 hours earlier.

Tatiana Maslany remarked, “Every day was somebody’s goodbye. It was emotional. It was sad. It was awesome.” The company is tight-knit and Maslany was sincere when she talked about what she’d miss most. “The community, the Clone Club and the set — it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” she said.

One of the major storylines in the final season is longevity. Co-creator Graeme Manson noted, “John [Fawcett] and I knew that, in this feminist show, there’s a man at the top. Someone’s got to bring the man down. Think of the most evil patriarchal figure — the world’s oldest man. Westmoreland’s the top dog, like Dr. Evil.”

Clone Rachel has also realized her true villain potential, Manson revealed. “Rachel is very deep this year and very powerful.” Fawcett added, “We wanted Rachel to rise to the top through her villainy. We’ve enjoyed finding the deeper aspects and contradictions in the character.”

Another major storyline is the “Cophine” romance between Clone Cosima and scientist Delphine, portrayed by Evelyne Brochu. Manson acknowledged the effect the relationship has had on fans. “It’s a clone show that’s about diversity,” he said. “The Cosima/Delphine relationship has the same weight as any straight relationship. It’s the most important romantic love story of the show.”

Brochu added, “If our show can have even a little impact, if it inspires reality to be more of what it should be, there’s so much pride. Delphine is one of the most important characters I’ve ever played.”

When talk turned to Maslany’s acting process playing so many clones (nine clones are still alive) Maslany said, “It’s always the biggest mindf— on the planet and it’s always full of mistakes.” The star also praised her acting double, Kathryn Alexandre, for her consistently topnotch performance that’s unseen onscreen, but is essential as Maslany can’t do every scene needed for coverage.

“Orphan Black” returns to BBC America on June 10.
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Press/Photos: Tatiana for ‘Anthem’ Magazine

Tatiana was featured in Anthem magazine last week with Tom. Check out the article and photos below.

In Joey Klein’s impressionistic romance The Other Half, two combustible lives collide to spark fiery passion that’s just as easily extinguished in a series of preludes and aftermaths, and persistent loss and newfound love. The Canadian film marks Klein’s first feature out as writer and director.

Tatiana Maslany plays Emily, a mercurial woman with severe bipolar disorder, and Tom Cullen is Nickie, a morose hothead stunted by depression following the unexplained disappearance of his younger brother years ago. Emily first meets Nickie as he’s unloading unchecked fury onto a pesky patron at his day job. She intervenes, all googly-eyed. As luck would have it, Emily’s in one of her brief windows of stability. They quickly lose themselves in each other’s arms and find solace in their shared dysfunction. Still, Nickie tries to conceal his chronic melancholy and barely-corked rage under layers of bravado and macho posturing, while Emily cycles between wild buoyancy and terrifying manic episodes. Together, they clumsily clear a path towards something profound. In allowing this ill-fated duo to simply exist in their slow spiral towards possible stability—rather than hurtling them into a certain tragedy—Klein is sensitive to the incremental changes that come with fortifying love and the self-destructive demons we sometimes fight in order to maintain it.

The Other Half is a homegrown effort for Klein, modestly undertaken between close friends. It’s beautifully captured by DP Bobby Shore (Closet Monster, The Invitation), and skillfully performed by Cullen and Maslany whose real-life romance offscreen is unapologetically felt onscreen.

The Other Half opens in select theaters on March 10.

It’s been a long journey for The Other Half, if you consider that you, Joey, started developing ideas, I think, around ten years ago now. I know it has gone through quite an evolution since its first conception. Were there times when you thought it wouldn’t get made at all?

Joey Klein: Yeah, I think you have to be dedicated. And delusional. [Laughs] Also, I was fortunate enough to meet people who elevated me and made me better than I was. Somebody just asked [Tom and Tatiana] whether I wrote these parts for them, and while it’s true that I started writing before I knew them and before we all became close to our cinematographer Bobby [Shore], they really informed my process. They all helped with elements of the story and made it stronger. Once we were together, it made it easier for me to find the form and develop what it ended up being.

Things have gone chemically wrong for Nickie and Emily—Nickie with his PTSD and Emily with her bipolarity—yet they’re not entirely tragic characters. They find each other—“they don’t smell each other’s stink,” as you playfully put it in the past—and they push forward.

Tom Cullen: Thank you for saying that because that’s something we really believe in. This is a hopeful film. It’s about two people suffering and people slow to learn that other people are trying to save them. What I like about Nickie and Emily is that they’re not trying to save each other. They’re there to understand one another, without judgement. I find that really beautiful and very real.

These are unpredictable characters. For instance, Emily has a hysterical meltdown after going off her meds and Nickie will get into one of his scuffles on the account of his jealous rage. What did you find most compelling about your character on the page, Tatiana?

Tatiana Maslany: What I enjoyed so much about Emily is that she’s much more complicated than women with mental illness that I’m used to seeing in film. It’s a part of who she is, but it’s not cutesy or romanticized. It’s something real that she has to deal with on a day-to-day basis, which makes it difficult for her to relate to others. She finds a kindred spirit in Nickie. She recognizes something in him that he recognizes in her. It’s unspoken and goes beyond their traumas. Like Tom was saying, there’s an acceptance of the wholeness of a person, as opposed to a shiny veneer. We don’t run away after they reveal themselves to be more difficult than initially thought. Emily and Nickie are brought together by their complexity and what they go on to reveal to one another.

One of my favorite moments in the movie seems improvisatory: when Nickie and Emily take imaginary bullets. It’s very brief in the context of the whole film, but it leaves a strong impression. How much of what we see were found on set, as opposed to being written down?

Tatiana: We were pretty true to the script throughout, but Joey definitely allowed for us to go off in a lot of scenes and sort of find something, like a moment of levity or a moment of connection. Nickie playing the ukulele with Emily sitting on the sofa and improvising a song—that’s just play and a part of it, you know? Joey was really open to that and generous in giving us that space.

Tom: We only had sixteen days to shoot, so we had to be reasonably structured. Maybe if we had some more time we could’ve experimented more, but the script was really good so we stuck to it. Joey encouraged us to find little moments, little bits that came out organically within the structure.

Sixteen days seems like a mad rush toward the finish line. But you guys did it. You got a lot.

Tatiana: Oh yeah.

Could you tell me a little bit more as to what the collaboration looked like on set on any given day between the three of you, and also with your cinematographer Bobby Shore?

Tom: Bobby is an extraordinary cinematographer. His work is brilliant and his work on this film is just fantastic. I think it looks beautiful. What Bobby offers is immense commitment and generosity to the story, as if he was a third character. He was with us all the time and, with his team, it felt intensely collaborative. This was the most collaborative experience I’ve ever had on a set. Everybody, from the set decorators to the costume designer to the makeup artist and the camera department, was invested in telling this story together as a conglomerate of people. I feel like that translates onto the screen, even though we didn’t have a huge amount of time and we had to jump in really deep. It was heavy, raw work. I don’t think Tat and I felt unsafe to do that at any point. We felt supported. I feel that the real reason we were able to go so deep has got a lot to do with Joey who leads with a very egalitarian, smooth hand when he’s directing. It was a real pleasure. That’s the beauty of doing these small movies: It doesn’t feel out of your control and everyone has space.

Tatiana: It’s not just a machine.

Tom: There was a time near the end of the film where Tat’s having a really big break. It was a night shoot, it was the last scene we were doing, and we were right by a train line—everything was against us. Joey and Bobby had set up the shot, but I felt like Tat and I needed to get deeper into it. So I just got onto my knees and started talking to her as Emily, “You’re going to be okay,” and started the scene. There was still ten minutes before we were going to shoot and I felt like we really needed to stay it because it wasn’t something you can just drop into. Joey sort of noticed what was going on and said to Bobby, “Can we just change it now?” At the drop of a hat, Bobby changed the shot completely and shot it in a totally different way. That’s what the collaboration was like on this.

Tatiana: Even though it was night, the lighting set up a certain way, and everything was precious.

Tom: And working against time. That kind of collaboration where it’s in service of the work is something really rare. You’re often having to compromise your instincts, or yourself, for so many different variables. On this, it felt like the work was driving us. We were in service to that alone.

Joey, you’re also an actor. Directors often talk about how, if they do have that background, it’s easier to empathize with actors. They understand how scary it is to put yourself out there and know exactly what they’re asking of actors. Did that create a shorthand for you guys?

Tatiana: Absolutely! We’ve all acted and we all know what it’s like to be directed. We understand that world, that relationship, and that dynamic. Joey talked so much over the years about the way he wanted to work and the kind of work he wanted make. This is Joey’s first feature film.
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