Tag Archives: Frankie Drake Mysteries

Being Frankie

With Canadian mystery drama Frankie Drake Mysteries back for a third season, getting into character isn’t only down to the period costumes, star Lauren Lee Smith reveals.

With its charming blend of crime, mystery and the iconic backdrop of the 1920s, Frankie Drake Mysteries has pulled in viewers worldwide since it launched in 2017.

The Canadian-UK coproduction follows the adventures of Frankie (Lauren Lee Smith) and her partner Trudy Clarke (Chantel Riley) at Drake Private Detectives, Toronto’s only all-female detective agency, as they fight crime in the age of flyboys, gangsters, rum-runners and speakeasies.

In the third season, which launched in September, Frankie faces a family secret while the 10 hour-long episodes also bring her and her detective team – completed by Rebecca Liddiard as Mary Shaw and Sharron Matthews as Flo – into the world of British aristocrats, illegal boxing, political fundraisers and the supernatural. The show is produced by Shaftesbury for the CBC in Canada and UKTV, with Kew Media Distribution handling global sales.

When DQ meets Smith in London, she has arrived to film the first scenes of the new run, which will feature exterior shots of the British capital that will then be merged with footage filmed on interior sets recorded back in Toronto.

Lauren Lee Smith’s Frankie sports a new look in the show’s third season

Talking about returning to the show, she says: “It’s amazing. I feel very fortunate first of all, because you just never know in TV if you are still employed or not, which is a little crazy, but it’s been an incredible journey. Season one is always great because it’s filled with so much excitement. And then season two, we all sort of eased into it a little bit and we knew what we were doing. It was like coming back to school after summer vacation.

“Now, in season three, we’re all really, really excited to see what’s in store. It’s also nice because we shoot 10 episodes for five months and then we’re off for seven months. So by the time we get back to shooting, everyone’s excited to get back at it. So I’m just really looking forward to it and we’re excited to get back to hanging out with the girls and finding Frankie again, and pretending to be way more badass than I really am.”

In London, Frankie is meeting some friends – and bumps into Agatha Christie – when she stumbles upon a case to solve. Then when she returns to Toronto, she reunites with her team for further mysteries. Smith says the show is moving up a gear this time out, with more in-depth puzzles to solve and bigger action sequences.

“We’re going to amp it up a bit,” she continues. “Something I always really liked is that people said season one was like we were trying to create a female Indiana Jones vibe, and that’s a great way to look at the show. We’re bringing a little bit more of the action adventure for season three.”

The 1920s-set show is produced by Shaftesbury

The Vancouver native – who has previously appeared in series such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Listener, The L Word and This Life – says she has fallen in love with the outgoing, physical and fearless Frankie, who she describes as a superhero. Smith works with a boxing trainer for several months before filming starts to help her feel “super tough,” something that has become especially valuable as she prepares for the extra stunts and action in the new batch of episodes.

“But even just for me, to physically find Frankie, I found it really useful to have the boxing training,” she says. “You stand differently, walk differently. It’s just different, and it’s hardcore training. I do I find that it helps me to find the character. I would never in my life wake up in the morning like, ‘I’m gonna go train hardcore for the next two hours, five days a week.’ Not in a million years! But I love to have an excuse to do that.”

Over the first two seasons, Smith says Frankie has slowly let her guard down and allowed more people into her life, not least the three women who work alongside her at Drake Private Detectives. The female ensemble leading the show is one reason why the actor describes going to work every day as a “joy,” adding: “It’s amazing to be able to go to work with these three women who I genuinely adore and who are so talented. It definitely makes sense for the show, because it’s a little much to just have Frankie being able to handle everything. It’s not realistic; and for women in general, it’s a nice message to see these four women who aren’t at each other’s throats.”

Of course, one of the defining features of the series is its 1920s setting, with Frankie Drake Mysteries bringing all the razzle-dazzle of the jazz age to the screen. The hairstyling, make-up and costumes are more than just window dressing, however, with Smith reaping the benefits in her performance.

Frankie Drake Mysteries is led by a female ensemble cast

“You instantly hold yourself differently – you completely transform yourself [in costume],” she says. “So the team do an incredible job with that and also with the sets they build. I have no idea how they do it. I feel like we go home from work and these magic elves come in and turn run-down old studios into these beautiful sets, and they miraculously do it overnight. They change every episode, every day sometimes. Often we come on the set and we feel like we’ve been transported back in time.”

The actor also highlights a lightness of tone to the show that invites the whole family to sit down together and find comfort in the procedural series – a factor that has won it fans around the world. Among the international networks that carry the series is US cable channel Ovation.

“It’s a really great backdrop that we have, being early 1920s. It’s a fascinating time, and for women in particular. Women in Canada had just received the right to vote and, because of the war efforts that they were a part of, there was a newfound respect for women and a new freedom that women were experiencing in the flapper era.

“It’s a really interesting setting for a series. And then to have these four women who are so different, combined with the fact you know you’re going to get a fun, interesting mystery, it’s a really good combination. It leaves a lot of room to see where the show is going and where we can take it next. There are always mysteries to be solved. Hopefully we get to solve a lot more.”

tagged in: ,

Speaking Frankie

Canadian period drama Frankie Drake Mysteries sees Lauren Lee Smith star as the titular Frankie, who sets up a detective agency with her friend Trudy Clarke (Chantel Riley). The show follows the city’s only female private detectives as they take on the cases the police don’t want to touch.

In this DQTV interview, Smith (This Life, The Listener) reveals how she accepted the role of Frankie after reading just five pages of the script and why she was drawn to starring in a show that is female-led both in front of and behind the camera.

She discusses how becoming a mother has changed her tastes in television and why she was looking to play a part in a more light-hearted and fun series when Frankie Drake Mysteries came along.

The actor also talks about how the role brought her out of her comfort zone, from learning to ride a motorbike to taking up boxing training, and why the series appeals to international audiences.

Frankie Drake Mysteries is produced by Shaftesbury in association with CBC and UKTV, and distributed by Kew Media Distribution.

tagged in: , , , , ,

Converging on Cannes

The great and good of the television industry are once again packing their bags for another week in the south of France. DQ previews some of the drama series set to break out at Mipcom 2017.

Mipcom is often viewed as an opportunity for US studios to showcase their scripted series to international buyers. But this year the US will be jostling for attention with dramas from the likes of Spain, Russia, Brazil, Japan, Scandinavia and the UK.

The Spanish contingent is especially strong thanks to a major investment in drama by Telefonica’s Movistar+. Titles on show will be Gigantes, distributed by APC; La Peste, distributed by Sky Vision; and La Zona and Velvet Collection, both from Beta Film. The latter is a spin-off from Antena 3’s popular Velvet, previously sold around the world by Beta.

Beta Film’s Morocco – Love in Times of War

Beta is also in Cannes with Morocco – Love in Times of War, as well as Farinia – Snow on the Atlantic, both produced by Bambu for Antena 3. The former is set in war-torn Spanish Morocco in the 1920s, where a group of nurses look after troops, while Farinia centres on a fisherman who becomes a wealthy smuggler by providing South American cartels a gateway to Europe.

Mipcom’s huge Russian contingent is linked, in part, to the fact 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Titles that tackle this subject include Demon of Revolution, Road to Calvary and Trotsky – the latter two of which will be screened at the market. Trotsky, produced by Sreda Production for Channel One Russia, is an eight-part series that tells the story of the flamboyant and controversial Leon Trotsky, an architect of the Russian Revolution and Red Army who was assassinated in exile.

Russian drama Road to Calvary

Other high-profile Russian projects include TV3’s Gogol, a series of film-length dramas that reimagine the famous mystery writer as an amateur detective. Already a Russian box-office hit, the films will be screened to TV buyers at Mipcom.

Japanese drama has found a new international outlet recently following Nippon TV’s format deal for Mother in Turkey (a successful adaptation that has resulted in more interest in Japanese content among international buyers). The company is now back with a drama format called My Son. NHK, meanwhile, is screening Kurara: The Dazzling Life of Hokusai’s Daughter, a 4K production about Japan’s most famous artist.

Brazil’s Globo, meanwhile, is moving beyond the telenovelas for which it is so famous. After international recognition for dramas like Above Justice and Jailers, it will be in Cannes with Under Pressure, a coproduction with Conspiração that recorded an average daily reach of 40.2 million viewers when it aired in Brazil.

Nippont TV format My Son

From mainland Europe, there’s a range of high-profile titles at Mipcom including Bad Banks, distributed by Federation Entertainment, which looks at corruption within the global banking world. From the Nordic region there is StudioCanal’s The Lawyer, which includes Hans Rosenfeldt (The Bridge) as one of its creators, and season two of FremantleMedia International’s Modus. The latter is particularly interesting for starring Kim Cattrall, signalling a shift towards a more hybrid Anglo-Swedish project.

While non-English-language drama will have a high profile at the market, there are compelling projects from the UK, Canada and Australia. UK’s offerings include Sky Vision’s epic period piece Britannia and All3Media International’s book adaptation The Miniaturist – both with screenings. There’s also BBC Worldwide’s McMafia (pictured top), sold to Amazon on the eve of the market, and ITV Studios Global Entertainment’s The City & The City, produced by Mammoth Screen and written by Tony Grisoni.

All3Media International drama The Miniaturist

From Canada, there is Kew Media-distributed Frankie Drake Mysteries, from the same stable as the Murdoch Mysteries, while Banijay Rights is offering season two of Australian hit Wolf Creek. There’s also a screening for Pulse, a medical drama from ABC Commercial and Screen Australia.

Of course, it would be wrong to neglect the US entirely,since leading studios will be in town with some strong content. A+E Networks, for example, will bring actor Catherine Zeta-Jones to promote Cocaine Godmother, a TV movie about 1970s Miami drug dealer Griselda Blanco, aka The Black Widow.

Sony Pictures Entertainment, meanwhile, is screening Counterpart, in which JK Simmons (Whiplash, La La Land) plays Howard Silk, a lowly employee in a Berlin-based UN spy agency. When Silk discovers that his organisation safeguards the secret of a crossing into a parallel dimension, he is thrust into a world of intrigue and danger where the only man he can trust is his near-identical counterpart from this parallel world.

If you’re in Cannes, don’t forget to pick up the fall 2017 issue of Drama Quarterly, which features Icelandic thriller Stella Blómkvist, McMafia, Benedict Cumberbatch’s The Child in Time, Australian period drama Picnic at Hanging Rock and much more.

tagged in: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,