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'Haven' Set Visit: There's More Than Meets the Eye in This Small Town

by Chris Jancelewicz, posted Jun 29th 2010 2:00PM

Let's go over all the elements one needs for a Stephen King book-to-TV adaptation. Sleepy, sorta-eerie east coast town? Check. A cast of characters whose secrets have yet to be uncovered? Check. A collection of strange occurrences that no one can really explain? You'd better believe it. SyFy/Canwest's offering, 'Haven', which is based on Stephen King novella 'The Colorado Kid', has all these elements and more.

TV Squad visited the set of 'Haven', which is filming this summer just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the towns of Chester and Lunenburg. These small, romantic-looking towns are playing the part of Haven, Maine, the central locale of the TV show. With harbors and inlets aplenty, Chester and Lunenberg are boating and sailing towns, which is a definite plus considering how big a role boats play in 'Haven'.

Top 10 Things You Need to Know About 'Haven' After the Jump!

From the Mind of Stephen King
We all know what sorts of fantastic things can spring from the mind of this acclaimed horror writer: 'Misery,' 'It,' 'Christine,' 'The Dead Zone,' 'Pet Semetary,' 'The Green Mile,' 'Stand by Me,' and on and on. 'Haven' is adapted from King's mystery novella 'The Colorado Kid,' and while Canadian director Adam Kane ('Heroes,' Pushing Daisies') and the producers kept some elements of the novella, the series is not 100 percent faithful to the book.

'Colorado Kid' focuses on an unidentified dead body and the team of detectives who search for the killer. 'Haven' will use some of the book's characters, but is also bringing in new faces and different plotlines. Producer Shawn Piller wanted to interject humor into the show, which is something that he hopes will lighten the melancholy, gritty tone of the novella. Perhaps most importantly, King stands behind the project, and has been on top of the show's production to make sure it doesn't deviate.

"Stephen King has been very supportive," said Piller. "Because of our experience with 'The Dead Zone' and how we treated that project, and because of him being a fan of 'Lost' and those type of shows, I think he was excited about this little novella he wrote being turned into a series. He's approved every step along the way. If you're offending a writer, you're doing something they wouldn't do. And if you're pissing off the writer, the fans aren't going to like it. There's a great quote from Shakespeare: 'Audiences are only prepared to believe what they expect.'"

Leading lady Emily Rose added: "We're not taking 'The Colorado Kid' 100 percent literally. We're using that world as a greenhouse for all these other stories to take place. King created the stage on which we perform. Good ol' Uncle Steve, as we call him."

Emily Rose Stars (No, Not the Horror Character)
We're not sure how often she gets asked about her name [we didn't ask], but it's a tad uncanny that she shares it with the Emily Rose of horror movie fame. We can assure you she's nothing like that character, in any way, shape or form. Rose is blond, slight, and exuberant. At the set visit, she was gregarious and over the moon about snagging a leading role. She was also pleased with the arc of her character, Audrey Parker -- an FBI agent who's sent to Haven to help solve a local murder.

"The most intriguing aspect of Audrey is the cockiness, the FBI-ness," said Rose. "One small detail about her is that she's an orphan -- she's raised by the state of Ohio, and she's gone from foster home to foster home, and never really landed anywhere. She doesn't have anyone to call. But now, the FBI becomes her family. She's set herself up to not feel anything. So she can figure out intensely complicated mysteries, but she can't figure out the mystery of herself."

This Is One Creepy, Eerie Atmosphere
Of course, on the day of the set visit, it was hot and sunny, but one can imagine on a foggy, rainy day how intensely creepy the harbor and surrounding village would look. Even the forest nearby had an almost-ominous feel as the wind blew through the tree branches. Because of the small size of the towns, there is also an insular vibe, making one feel like everyone knows each other's business. The locals at the restaurant we visited gave us the once-over and then proceeded to talk about us in French. Sacrebleu!

"The best way to describe this place [Nova Scotia] is 'emotional,'" said co-star Eric Balfour, who plays wisecracking jack-of-all-trades Duke Crocker. "If it's happy, sad, angry, or fearful... when the weather changes, or the sky changes, or the temperature changes, it carries with it an emotion. Growing up in LA -- the city itself is whatever you make it, whereas here, the environment has a tangible effect on people, which I think comes across in 'Haven'."

'Star Trek' and 'Star Wars' Connections?
In another set of weird coincidences, producer Shawn Piller's father, Michael Piller, was a well-known scriptwriter and producer for 'Star Trek.' In the industry, he is credited for transforming the 'Next Generation' TV series from the typical 'alien of the week' formula into more of a dramatic series. Piller Sr. was also a mentee to Gene Roddenberry (creator of 'Star Trek'). Needless to say, the younger Piller learned a lot from his father, and even went on to produce his own 'Star Trek: TNG' episode.

"I learned to have strong visions about storytelling and mysteries," Piller said. "Loch Ness, Big Foot... people need the unexplained. It allows the imagination to flourish."

Piller is creative, indeed. In fact, Balfour's jack-of-all-trades character was inspired by 'Star Wars' dashing scoundrel Han Solo, and Piller used that analogy to offer the role to Balfour.

"The role was sold to me as -- "Hey, you'll get to play a modern-day Han Solo, except instead of a Millennium Falcon, you'll have a boat!" said Balfour. "I thought, 'That sounds awesome!'"

Old Friends Make Strange Bedfellows

It helps that most of the actors in 'Haven' have already worked with one another before on various projects. Piller and Balfour are friends, and Rose and co-star Lucas Bryant (who plays town detective Nathan Wournos) appeared together on a TV show. Balfour and Bryant have also worked together before as well.

"Going into a show, normally you have nerves about meeting people, all that," said Bryant. "But there was none of that going into this, since I knew all of these guys. It was like we were right into season 2."

Lots o' Gunplay and Mystery
On the day of the set visit, we witnessed the filming of a scene that takes place on a boat (surprise, surprise). In it, a gentleman plays his guitar for a woman, but this is no ordinary serenade. It turns out that he's sort of like the Pied Piper, and his music affects different people in different ways. Some people are mesmerized by the sound, and others are enraged. We won't reveal anything more, except to say that Rose and Bryant's characters come on the scene with guns out of holsters, ready to find out what's going on.

"The look of this show is exciting -- I know that's a terrible descriptor -- but it's what I knew it could be," Bryant said. "It's really dark, it's got a weird vibe, it's unsettling, in a Stephen King sort of way. There are idyllic exteriors, pretty painted houses on the pretty water, but you know there's something really bad there."

He added: "Just yesterday I filmed a scene where I go crazy, I was possessed by ... something. It's happening throughout town, and I catch it. Since Nathan is very controlled and insulated, it was a treat to be explosive and venomous. This thing that I catch makes sane people crazy and crazy people sane. It's really nuts."

This Show's Got Some Balls
When visiting the indoor sets -- one was in a curling rink, the other in a hockey rink (how Canadian can you get?) -- we stumbled across many of the props used in the show. While we weren't told explicitly what they were used for, we can only assume they're for cool, cool things. One was a gigantic ball, like the huge rock in 'Indiana Jones.' After posing with it for pictures, we found what looked to be a fish tank filled with small ping-pong-like balls. The mystery of their origin and use is killing us! Guess we'll have to watch to find out.

Power(s) to the People
Not unlike 'Heroes', the people in the town of 'Haven' possess powers that they don't know about. Some of them do, but don't realize that others have them too, or they consider it a curse/burden and try to keep it hidden. As mentioned before, some people have the ability to control others through music, others can't feel any physical pain, and one person's mood changes the weather in Haven.

"What I find most interesting about this show is that the world is strange," said Balfour. "I really hope they keep pushing the envelope ... it's sort of like a Wes Anderson movie. What I loved about 'The Royal Tenenbaums' is that if there was a cab in the movie, it wasn't just a regular cab. Everything had real depth and life to it. In this secluded town of Haven, Maine, on the fringe of society, it's like hibernation, in a way. Strange things happen. We all live our lives, and we live in the parameters of what is logical. It was so fun to go into a world that mirrors our reality, but allows for the unknown possibilities."

Love Is in the Air

Just as you'd expect, the possibilities for love affairs are many. While Eric Balfour was mum on whether or not his character hooked up with Emily Rose's Audrey, his slyness and choice of words makes us believe that eventually something will happen. And c'mon, the resident bad boy? He's gotta be getting something at some point. And since Duke lives on a boat, we may be experiencing some serious boat sex during the show.

It also seems that Audrey hooks up with her fellow detective, Nathan, as well. "Audrey realizes quickly that Nathan is afflicted with a certain condition," Bryant noted. "That is, he doesn't feel. Nathan can feel emotionally, but not physically. There's some local suspicion that Nathan has about her, but he doesn't feel threatened by her. It takes [him] a little while to warm up to her, but let's just say this: She makes Nathan feel a little bit, which is something that Nathan hasn't felt in a while."

Heavy on the Emotion
What kind of TV drama doesn't have intense emotional dilemmas? 'Haven' promises to have layered relationships, complicated rivalries and legacies, and a rich, diverse cast of characters. On top of these things, the east coast set helps contribute to the overall atmosphere of the show.

"The best way to describe [Nova Scotia] is 'emotional'," Balfour explained. "No matter if it's happy, sad, angry, or fearful. When the weather changes, or the sky changes, or the temperature changes, it carries with it an emotion. Growing up in LA – which I loved – the city itself is whatever you make it, whereas here, the environment has a tangible effect on people."

Sounds like 'Haven' will have a tangible effect on us.

'Haven' premieres July 9, 2010 at 10PM on SyFy and July 12 at 10PM on Showcase.

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john molino

Was Michael Hogan one of the newspaper guys?

July 10 2010 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thanks for the heads up about this. I'm gonna try and take a drive down to Lunenburg now and see what's to see! (I live in Halifax.)

Also: I don't normally think of my province as "emotional", but maybe I've just acclimatized. Halifax is pretty wicked though.

...And Lunenberg is nice too. It's a UNESCO world heritage site you know.

Do you have any idea what CanWest channel Haven is headed for? Global or Showcase?

June 29 2010 at 9:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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