The ongoing story of the creation of the Abigail Massey stories (with author Mark Walma)
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
McAdam is certainly Still Standing in hit CBC show
Still Standing host Jonny Harris with Author Mark Walma
The Village of McAdam, home of the historic McAdam Railway Station and Hotel, will be featured in an episode of the CBC hit series, Still Standing, later this summer.
Hosted by Newfoundland actor/comedian Jonny Harris (of Murdoch Mysteries fame) and produced by Frantic Films of Toronto, Still Standing calls itself a "love letter" to small-town Canada. The show launched its second season with a fun and informative visit to Haida Gwaii in British Columbia, a beautiful island and home of Skidegate, a Haida community of approximately 800. You can watch the entire episode online here.
Frantic Films first visited McAdam in early February to do some advance work for the episode that would feature the New Brunswick village. Amelia Wasserman of Frantic Films spent a week in the village, talking to the local people, visiting the sites, taking photos and video and gathering information in preparation for the visit of the entire cast and crew.
McAdam mayor Frank Carroll included Abigail author Mark Walma on the list of potential participants in the show and, after enjoying a mock interview with Wasserman about the Abigail project and his relationship with the village, Walma was fortunate enough to be chosen to meet Jonny Harris and appear on the show.
The second appearance: Author Mark with Abigail books
"I really didn't think I would be chosen," Walma admitted with a laugh. "But I guess the show's producers wanted to include someone who was interested in the village, participated in some village events but wasn't quite considered a local. It's an interesting perspective, I guess."
Several weeks later, a full crew from Frantic Films and CBC spent a week in McAdam to do the filming required for the episode. With Harris and the technical and creative folk came two other talented comedians and writers, Fraser Young and Graham Chittenden, whose responsibility it was to turn all the material the group gathered into a one-hour stand-up comedy act that Harris would deliver at the McAdam High School gym on the Saturday night.
"The interview with Jonny Harris was a lot of fun," Walma said. "We sat in the Station's Lunch Counter and chatted for 45 minutes or so. I expected there to be a lot of stopping and starting but it was just a smoothly flowing conversation. He really is the nice guy who comes across so clearly on TV."
Walma explained that the interview focused mainly on the Abigail project and how he and his sister Lynn came to take such an interest in the village and its Station. "But he was also interested in whether or not I had been adopted by the village yet," Walma added. "You know, was I still that guy from away who writes the books or was I one of them?"
The author appears to have enjoyed the entire process thoroughly, with one possible exception: "It is kind of terrifying," he said, "to sit in that gymnasium knowing that Jonny Harris is about to talk about you in his stand-up set but with no idea whatsoever of what he's going to say."
And how did it turn out?
"For me personally, it was an awesome experience. They handled me with comic kid gloves," Walma said. "For the village, it was just as great. Jonny, Fraser and Graham did an amazing job of writing an original, detailed and really funny set about the Village of McAdam and its people. I was really impressed with how well written it was and how perfectly Jonny delivered it."
Although the actual date of broadcast of the McAdam episode of Still Standing has yet to be made public, the release yesterday of a 90-second trailer for Season Two of the show on Facebook has already generated a great deal of buzz in New Brunswick.
The trailer includes flashes from all of the episodes planned for Season Two but McAdam and its beautiful station feature prominently, including one shot of Jonny Harris marching along on the platform in front of the station and several brief shots of various McAdam citizens who will appear in the episode.
"I'm even in there a couple of times," Walma said, a twinkle in his eye. "I watched the video for the first time on my smart phone as I was walking down the street and I stopped dead, my jaw on the ground, when I realized that the smiling face that had just flashed across that tiny screen was my own!"
Screen shots of Walma's appearances in the video appear at the top of this entry. Watch this space for more information about the Still Standing episode on the Village of McAdam as it becomes available.