Harrison Gilbertson Conspiracy 365 Interview
Re-live Cal's journey to uncover the secret behind the Ormond Singularity a Conspiracy 365 episode catch-up event, ever night at 7pm from Sunday 1st of July - Saturday 7th of July on FMC.Sunday 1st of July, 7pm: January
At his father's funeral, 15-year-old Cal Ormond is warned about the Ormond Singularity, a deadly family mystery that kills those who seek it. Can Cal survive the next 365 days and solve the mystery? Monday 2nd of July, 7pm: February
Cal Ormond is living on the streets, wanted for a crime he didn't commit. As he continues to work on the clues to the Ormond Singularity, a mysterious girl, Winter, saves him from certain death. But can Cal really trust her?Tuesday 3rd of July, 7pm: March
Cal enlists the help of safe-cracking recluse, Repro, to break into Oriana's house and steal the Ormond Riddle. But his moments of triumph is short-lived when he realised a key piece of the Riddle is missing.Wednesday 4th of July, 7pm: April
Cal battles to outrun Jake and Kelvin as they pursue him over rough terrain. His mission to get to Uncle Bart's is sidelined after he discovers Gabbi's life support is about to be switched off.Thursday 5th of July, 7pm: May
Cal wakes up imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital. Boges and Winter put their differences aside in a bid to bust Cal out and get him to his great-uncle Bart's. Does Bart hold the key to the Singularity?Friday 6th of July, 7pm: June
The stakes are raised when small-town cops hunt down Cal after his narrow escape in Uncle Bart's plane. Cracks start to appear in Cal and Boges's friendship as Cal pushes on with a plan to steal the Ormond Jewel. Saturday 7th of July, 7pm: premier of July
The double key code still stumps Cal. He travels to a secluded convent to ask his great-aunt Millicent what she knows about the mystery. Can Cal get a woman who hasn't spoken in 14 years to reveal her secrets?
For more information Conspiracy 365 visit www.girl.com.au/conspiracy-365
Interview with Harrison GilbertsonQuestion:
What is Conspiracy 365 about?Harrison Gilbertson
: Conspiracy 365 is a young action adventure story but further to that Conspiracy 365 is about working out who you are and discovering your own identity, the show takes that to an extreme with all of the action but the underlying theme is what a lot of teenagers go through and I know I am still experiencing it (and I probably will for the rest of my life); it's about working out who you are. My character Cal Ormond is thrown into an amazing situation where he really has to discover who he is, quickly! Question:
Had you read the books by Gabrielle Lord before you began filming?Harrison Gilbertson
: No, I didn't and I still feel a little funny about that but we were told not to as the show is an adaption of the book by Gabrielle Lord as we couldn't shoot every action scene that was in the book. We didn't read it and because of that I was able to try and create something different from the standard action hero. I have tried to make Cal Ormond real and have included more of his identity and how he is trying to work out who he is as well as the action hero. Question:
How are you similar to your character of Cal Ormond?Harrison Gilbertson
: In a way Cal Ormond is like every teenager, more so before he is thrown into the situation of being a fugitive (as that's certainly not normal), but before it all starts he sits around a lot and thinks about why his dad is never around and he thinks about where he stands as a person. In that sense I am similar to Cal Ormond because I certainly have experienced trying to figure out how I think and what my morals are. In the show Cal has to do things that go against his morals in order to survive; things he never thought he would and in that situation I had to imagine what that would be like. Question:
How does it feel to see yourself on the screen?Harrison Gilbertson
: It is weird but I have the view that you cannot regard it as being too weird because then you begin to look at it as being too weird when it's what I do! Watching myself on the screen is a part of my job. I was watching something I'd recorded from the TV, the other day, and I was fast forwarding and for a split second the screen showed my face during an advert for Conspiracy 365 and I was shocked and thought 'was that really me?'
Yes, it's weird but I do my best not to think about it too much so it doesn't become an issue. Question:
How did you adapt to filming each episode of Conspiracy 365 as a 'month'?Harrison Gilbertson
: Not in the filming sense. I hadn't recorded for TV before but I was told Conspiracy 365 was filmed like any other show, in blocks. We shot the first four episodes, over four weeks and then took a week's break and then shoot the next four. In one day we'd be shooting a scene for episode one and three! The format of a monthly show is really different and I liked that, I enjoy when people have a go at something slightly different. Question:
Do you have a preference between acting for television or film?Harrison Gilbertson
: I enjoyed acting for television, but filming for movies is a lot quicker as it is six weeks of intense work and then a break. With Conspiracy 365 we worked nearly every day for six months, it was huge because we had 12 hour days however it was certainly fun because it was so fast-paced and I had to go with my gut feelings which was a good lesson. I am a perfectionist with everything and I want to get it all right and television and working with other actors taught me a good lesson regarding that and to not take everything so seriously.
I got to work with a number of different actors, each day. I enjoyed watching them rock up, walk onto set and just be able to act.
The filming process for television was insane, we'll see if I'm able to do it again
What/who was your inspiration to go into the acting industry?Harrison Gilbertson
: I'd have to say myself as acting was what I always wanted to do. I was honestly lucky that my parents were supportive, because that was the main thing. They were supportive and not just in terms of "sure, do what you want to do" but they were always asking "what is the next step?" and always let me make the decision about what I wanted to do.
I actually owe them a lot of money for flying me to Melbourne, as a kid, to audition. I was auditioning from the age of six and from the age of six to fourteen I didn't get another role and as a kid dealing with rejection is tough and I was lucky that my parents were supportive and didn't stop me auditioning because I was upset, they asked "do you want to stop?" each time I replied 'no, I love it!"
I had to keep building my shield to rejection and I knew I'd develop a hard back to rejection and sure enough now, if I don't get a role, I let it roll of my back as it wasn't meant to be. Question:
Which actor do you hope to be able to work with, in the future?Harrison Gilbertson
: Naturally I admire so many big name actors like you do with any career, but I also fear the actors that I admire as they might not be as nice, in real life (laughing)! I have worked with many great people and I have learnt a lot from those who may not be as famous because they are really good actors who don't take themselves seriously, but take the work seriously. Question:
What are you currently working on?Harrison Gilbertson
: Yes! I have a film that will hopefully start early next year, in Australia and I am shortlisted for three things in the US at the moment - I hope one of them will land. It will be fantastic to head over to the US.
I can't say much about the Australian film because it is an independent film but it is set in the 1990's and it centres around the skating environment so I am trying to learn how to skateboard without breaking any bones, although I have a lot of bruises because I keep falling off (laughing)! Question:
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?Harrison Gilbertson
: As cliché as it sounds; happy! If I am happy with whatever I am doing, that's all I can hope.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
At his father's funeral, 15-year-old Cal Ormond is warned by a crazy stranger about a cryptic puzzle known as the 'Ormond Singularity.' Cal has 365 days to solve the mystery, or he'll meet the same fate as his father. Immediately, events move forward at breakneck pace. Before the week is out, Cal has been accused of attempting to murder his uncle-his father's identical twin brother-and his sister is in a coma. Who can Cal rely on? His old friend Boges, and now a new friend, mysterious Winter. But Winter's guardian, Vulkan Sligo, turns out to be head of one of the two criminal gangs after Cal. Then there's the Ormond Jewel, the Ormond Riddle, and the puzzle of what Cal's father, charismatic Tom Ormond, was up to in Ireland before he was mysteriously struck down.
Cal, desperate, on the run, and dependent on the kindness of strangers, is following the trail of clues leading to the Ormond Singularity. Those he meets along the way will either help or hinder him. But will he solve the mystery before 31 December? Or will the family curse claim another victim?
The story-full of gripping, compelling elements-is huge! Gabrielle Lord's book series, Conspiracy 365, comprises 12 individual novels. How do you fit this much plot, this much character development, and this much action, into a 12-part television series?
Executive Producers Linda Klejus (Circa Media) and Peter Jenetsky (Movie Network Channels) came up with a groundbreaking approach: let parts of the story be told via different platforms. Conspiracy 365 harnesses the power of multiplatform to bring the many levels or layers of the story to viewers.
Hoodlum Entertainment came on board with the goal of changing the way audiences relate to television as a storytelling medium. Webisodes and additional content with unique storylines were created to tell more of the story. These were shot with the same cinematic production values as the television episodes and will be available across a variety of platforms online and via mobile phone.What is the Ormond Singularity?
Queen Elizabeth I's last will and testament contained a codicil known as the 'Ormond Singularity' granting the heirs of the Tenth Earl of Ormond a royal inheritance. The inheritance is made up of two parts. The first is a right to lands and a title-the Earl of Ormond. The second part is a fortune in gold and jewels.Only the first-born male of each generation has the opportunity to inherit the lands and title but anyone can steal the fortune
if they can find it! The gold and jewels have been hidden for centuries; the Ormond Jewel and Riddle hold the clues to their location. Together they form a double key code; however, the curse of the Singularity has defeated everyone who has ever tried to solve the mystery.About the Production
In 2010, Scholastic Australia published the first in a series of young adult novels written by award-winning author Gabrielle Lord-'Australia's first lady of crime'-based around a year in the life of 15-year-oldCallum Ormond. In the series, Conspiracy 365, Cal's father has just died in strange circumstances and Cal is warned that he will meet a similar fate unless he is able to solve a puzzling mystery dating back to Elizabethan times.
The books, released in monthly instalments, went on to sell in excess of 500,000 copies in Australia and New Zealand. The fast-paced action, the relatable young protagonist, the thrilling puzzle to be solved and the cliff-hanger at the end of each book kept young readers coming back for more.
Linda Klejus, Executive Producer of Conspiracy 365, recognised the potential of Gabrielle's concept for television. "When Gabrielle started describing the books to me, I immediately knew that it would make a fantastic TV series. So I'd already commenced optioning the books before they were published. Gabrielle sent me the synopses of the stories and I could see they were exciting-lots of life-threatening jeopardy and action."
Gabrielle Lord has published more than 20 books, to great critical acclaim and commercial success. Over a long career, Gabrielle has honed her talent for telling compelling mysteries, and has seen several of her books adapted for film or television-most memorably, the terrifying 1982 big-screen release of Fortress. When she heard that the Conspiracy 365 series was to be made for television, Gabrielle was ecstatic. A feature film, she says, "would not have done justice to it. Whereas this way it is faithfully reproducing the episodic structure of what I've written, so I'm absolutely delighted. From what I've seen, it's just terrific."
The stroke of genius, story-wise, is the centering of this modern-day narrative around an ancient puzzle: the Ormond Singularity. The concept is based, incredibly, on an old secret from within Gabrielle's own family. Gabrielle tells the tale: "I was looking for a big secret, because I knew Cal would have to be chasing something amazing to sustain 12 books over a whole year. I lucked onto a rumour about Elizabeth I and a relative of mine: Black Tom Butler, the Tenth Earl of Ormond. So I went to Ireland and enquired further about this rumour, and found that it was quite widely believed in certain parts of Ireland. I went to see the Keeper of Rare Books at Trinity College, Dublin
and I can't really say more because it will give the story away to those who haven't read it, but it's about Good Queen Bess, and she was obviously very, very fond of Black Tom."
The next phase of bringing Conspiracy 365 to the small screen was to find a network that would be supportive of the level of innovation that Linda Klejus knew would be necessary to do the story justice. As it turned out, Movie Network Channels was looking for a television event, targeted at a family audience, to complement its FMC channel. It was after a big-budget, action-oriented show with high production values and innovative storytelling that could comfortably sit alongside its predominate movie schedule. Klejus says, "In early discussions with Peter Jenetsky, we decided that the format of the series should follow the same monthly release format of the books, and in fact that was one of the most exciting things about producing this series for FMC." Jenetsky comments further, "Giving the series the luxury of a 12-month roll-out on-air for FMC affords us a real opportunity to build each screening into a monthly television event, synergised with the re-release of the books by Scholastic and further supported by the comprehensive transmedia storytelling strategy."
Next on board were Emmy® Award-winning multiplatform production company Hoodlum Entertainment, whose brief was to bring a level of 'active storytelling' to the audience across multiple platforms. Viewers can experience the story on television, and they can enrich that experience by engaging with the story online, in the form of webisodes, vlogs, behind-the-scenes material and additional character information.
As writer Mark Shirrefs explains, the online content is much more than rehashing information that viewers are perfectly capable of working out themselves. "One of the really nice things about it is that you get a chance to deal with characters in unexpected ways, like with Winter. She's the main young female character and she has a very interesting story of her own, and we don't really get a chance to develop that on screen, but we actually get a chance to do much more with her via her vlogs." And unlike traditional television 'add-on' material, Conspiracy 365 features broadcast-quality online content, with unique storylines.
Awesome story, compelling characters, dedicated producers, $13 million budget, multiplatform technology-all the ingredients were in place to brew up a heady television experience. The adaptation process was ready to begin. Producer Ann Darrouzet says, "Television is a fast and furious medium, and one element you've got to have is a great script. The process of scripting on Conspiracy 365 has been huge!"
Two esteemed writers with many years of film and television experience, Michael Brindley and Mark Shirrefs, collaborated for the first time on Conspiracy 365. Mark picks up the story: "It's quite a lengthy process to break down the story and identify the tent poles-mapping it all out on whiteboards-because there's a puzzle to be worked out along the way, and each of the pieces of the puzzle has to occur at a certain time so the character can put it together and gradually build up a picture, and of course you've got to be careful and not let the audience get ahead of you in that process."
According to writer Michael Brindley, "There are a lot of influences and genres all feeding into one story. The identity search of Jason Bourne meets a 400-year-old puzzle like The Da Vinci Code meets the action of 24 and the adventure of The Goonies." Mark adds. "It's a classic quest story, the hero's journey."And, like in any quest story, the central theme is one of identity. Mark continues, "This is a teenage boy who starts the story believing that he's like any normal kid, and he discovers that there is this extraordinary family connection which goes back four years, of which he was completely unaware. And part of the thrust of this story is a real exploration of the history of a family and how history-how the past-affects the present."
The journey is so deeply personal to Cal Ormond, the hero of Gabrielle Lord's books, that they are written entirely in the first person. This worked to great effect on the page, drawing readers deep into the internal thought processes of the protagonist. But how could the power of this technique be imparted to a television adaptation?
Clearly, a very special lead actor was called for, someone young enough to play the part of 15-year-oldCal, but experienced enough to bring the necessary emotion and presence to the part, plus with the enormous work ethic necessary to perform in almost every scene-in short, to carry the show. Says Set-Up Director, Paul Goldman (Episodes 1-4), "I've never seen a role require the kind of workload that the part of Cal's has. So the onerous responsibility of casting him is not just to find a wonderful actor who can anchor the whole show but we also had to find someone who had the stamina and who would bring a real intelligence and integrity to that character."
After much searching, the perfect young actor was found: 18-year-old Harrison Gilbertson. Producer AnnDarrouzet enthuses, "We've been blessed in being able to cast Harrison Gilbertson as Cal Ormond-he's an incredible, gifted young actor."
In the support roles of Cal's best friends are newcomer Taylor Glockner as Boges, and AFI Award winnerMarny Kennedy, playing Winter. The chemistry between the three young actors provides the emotionalheart of Conspiracy 365. Executive Producer Linda Klejus's vision for the project was that parents "would also love it and that everyone could sit down and enjoy it together." The secret to the widespread appeal, believes Block Two Director, Pino Amenta (Episodes 5-7, 10), is that all viewers can relate to Cal.
"He's forced into these situations and he learns a lot about himself through solving this incredible mystery.That's the big attraction for the audience. It's the sort of show where you can sit with your kids and get hooked straight away because there is that mystery that is complex enough for the adult mind and yet told in a style that the younger person can get. That's its great strength-it's got mystery, it's got action and it's got wonderful characters."
The story is centred on three young characters-Cal, Boges and Winter-but the adult characters also have their own stories. They're interesting, multifaceted, colourful, but still real. The producers searched for great performers who were determined to make the adult characters jump off the screen. They found actors like Rob Carlton, Julia Zemiro, Kate Kendall and David Whiteley, all standouts for the level of presence and 'watchability' they bring to roles they play.
Another element of the producers' vision was for Conspiracy 365 to look sophisticated, with cinematic production values. Executive Producer Linda Klejus says, "We've deliberately gone for a gritty and moody feel, shooting with available light, and 100 per cent on location, so we get that diversity of looks to really communicate the changes and the journey that Cal goes on: that every day is a different experience."
Conspiracy 365 is one of those rare family series where the action is on par with the drama. It's essentially an action/thriller, and it's partly the awesome stunts that make it such compelling viewing. In each episode, Cal encounters obstacles, and part of solving the puzzle-and becoming a man-is overcoming the physical barriers blocking his way. As Director Paul Goldman puts it, "There is a wonderful balance here of really dramatic scenes that are full of emotion and psychological depth, and they are juxtaposed with some wonderful action adventure scenes."
As each episode ends with a dramatic cliff-hanger for Cal or one of his friends-a life-threatening situation in which it seems there's no way out-the stunt team has been kept busy. Stunt Coordinator Zev Eleftheriou says, "Every day on this set has been stunt-driven. It could be as simple as a foot chase through the city, or as complex as flipping a car into a creek on a country road, escaping cross-country on a motorbike, or going over a cliff in a truck."
As Executive Producer Linda Klejus points out, "Cal's an ordinary boy who goes on an incredible journey,faces enormous obstacles, and overcomes them. In a metaphorical sense, it's the journey faced by everyyoung person as they search for their own identity."
Read our interview with Harrison Gilbertson: www.girl.com.au/harrison-gilbertson-conspiracy-365-interview Episode SynopsisJanuary
At his father's funeral, 15-year-old Cal Ormond is warned about the Ormond Singularity, a deadly family mystery that kills those who seek it. Can Cal survive the next 365 days and solve the mystery? After returning from Tom's funeral, the Ormond family discovers their home has been burgled. Is it simply bad luck or something more? Cal soon realises nothing is coincidental after his uncle Rafe is shot and his younger sister Gabbi is knocked unconscious in a home attack. What is the Ormond Singularity? Why is it worth killing for? With the police believing Cal assaulted his uncle and sister, he has no choice but to run. He needs to clear his name and find out what the Singularity is.
334 days to go
Cal Ormond is living on the streets, wanted for a crime he didn't commit. As he continues to work on the clues to the Ormond Singularity, a mysterious girl, Winter, saves him from certain death. But can Cal really trust her? Boges warns Cal to stay away from Winter. Her guardian is Vulkan Sligo, after all. But when Winter recognises the Angel from one of Tom's cryptic drawings, Cal is forced to take a chance and follow her lead.
After catching sight of a boy who looks exactly like him, Cal starts to wonder if being on the run is making him lose the plot. But what if it's not? Could Cal have a double out there?
306 days to go
To break into Oriana's house and steal the Ormond Riddle. But his moment of glory is short-lived when he realises a key piece of the Riddle is missing. Sligo and Oriana aren't the only people on Cal's trail. Detective McGrath is using all his resources to catch the 'psycho kid'. When one of McGrath's men stumbles upon Cal's hideout, Cal resorts to desperate measures to escape.
Boges's suspicion of Winter increases, and Cal is forced to try and ease the tension between them. ButCal knows Boges has a point: how do Oriana and Sligo seem to find Cal at every turn? Could Winter be a double agent?
275 days to go
Him over rough terrain. Cal's mission to get to Uncle Bart's is sidelined after he discovers Gabbi's life support is about to be switched off. Cal needs to get back to the city and fast. An unusual opportunity presents itself when retiree Melba Snipe spies Cal and offers him a lift in her boot. Will Cal take the risk and trust her?
Desperate not to lose his sister, Cal sneaks into the hospital and pleads with Gabbi to wake up. ButMcGrath is on the move and Cal doesn't have much time before he catches up with him.May
Cal wakes up imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital. Boges and Winter put their differences aside in a bid to bust Cal out and get him to his great-uncle Bart's. Does Bart hold the key to the Singularity?
In the mental institution, Cal is told his name is Ben Galloway. Cal is disorientated and confused-maybe he isn't who he thinks he is. If Winter and Boges are going to get Cal out, they'll have to snap him out of his medicated haze.
Cal finds his great-uncle Bart, an old timer who is sceptical about the Singularity and Cal. However, when Cal and Bart discover a shared passion for planes, Cal warms to a man he barely knows and Bart reveals key information to solving the Singularity. But with Oriana's and Sligo's men in pursuit, these Ormonds may not have as much time as they think.
214 days to go
The stakes are raised when small-town cops hunt down Cal after his narrow escape in Uncle Bart's plane. Cracks start to appear in Cal and Boges's friendship as Cal pushes on with a plan to steal the Ormond Jewel. Every cop within a 50 km radius is looking for Cal. Can he get back to the city undetected? A look at a picture of the Ormond Jewel delivers a surprising revelation for Winter-she's seen it before and she knows who has it.
Boges continues to struggle with Cal's risk-taking, especially after Cal contacts a fellow street kid, Griff, in a bid to get fast cash. Meanwhile, Winter reveals the tragic truth behind why her birthday will never be a celebration.
184 days to go
The double key code still stumps Cal. He travels to a secluded convent to ask his great-aunt Millicent what she knows about the mystery. Can Cal get a woman who hasn't spoken in 14 years to reveal her secrets?
Cal looks through Millicent's belongings and discovers letters from Piers Ormond, his great-great-grandfather. The letters reveal what Cal suspected: the two missing lines of the Riddle are the key to the Singularity. Cal chases down the Ormond family solicitor, Sheldrake Rathbone, in a bid to get Piers Ormond's will. But not all legal eagles are honest and upstanding. Cal's desperation for answers may be his undoing. Is this the end for the 'psycho kid'?
153 days to go
Cal, in police custody, is confronted by an unforgiving McGrath. Gabbi wakes from her coma and Oriana uses her as leverage to get Cal and his resources. But even the best laid plans can go wrong. Cal, no longer a naïve teen, gets past the police and breaks out of hospital. He's helped by a stranger, Nelson Sharkey, a private investigator in the right place at the right time.
Cal is given a dream 16th birthday present: he learns that Gabbi has woken up from her coma. But just as he gets his sister back, she is taken away again, this time by Oriana. Cal loves Gabbi and will do anything to get her back, even sacrifice himself.
122 days to go
Boges, struggling with Gabbi's near death at the river, pulls out of the game. Gabbi notices Emily is acting strangely. Cal pushes to steal back what Oriana took from him. Is his lucky streak about to end? After Gabbi's kidnapping and near drowning, Boges decides he's had enough. Cal is dismayed, but is sidetracked by seeing the boy who looks exactly like him.
Cal follows him home with startling results. Cal and Winter unlock the mystery behind the Singularity. This is bigger than Cal could have ever imagined. They need Boges's help to bug Oriana's house and find where she's keeping the clues. But Cal gets caught and Oriana orders her boys to dispose of Cal permanently.October
Cal wakes in the forest very much alive. Why did Kelvin spare his life? And what are the numbers written on Cal's arm? Cal, Boges and Winter hatch a plan to get rid of one of their foes for good. Cal makes his way back to Winter's place. With Boges back on board, they now have a chance to get back everything Oriana took. Meanwhile, Sligo gets in touch with Oriana and asks her join him in going after Cal. But they have no idea that a little birdy is listening to their conversation. Will Oriana's ego be her undoing?
Cal, Winter and Boges are on a mission to expose their enemies. But sometimes the truth can be as unfavourable as a lie. When Winter finds her father's will, she gets closer to uncovering what happened between Sligo and her parents. And it isn't what she expects.
61 days to go
A dying man confesses he kidnapped Cal and his twin Ryan 15 years ago and Cal finally gets Ryan to accept the difficult truth. Winter confronts Sligo and discovers what really happened to her parents.After narrowly evading the police yet again, Cal asks Nelson for help. He wants a meeting with Murray 'Toe Cutter' Durham, a hardened criminal who he suspects knows something about the Ormond Singularity. But Toe Cutter's connection to Cal is more personal than he can possibly imagine.Ryan finally accepts that he and Cal are brothers. And while Rafe confesses the reason behind his rift with Tom, Winter shows Sligo her true colours. What will a hard man like Vulkan Sligo do after his heart has been broken?
31 days to go
With only days left before the Singularity runs out, Cal, Boges, Winter and Nelson fly to Ireland. Can they crack the code and find the treasure? Will Cal complete his father's legacy before the clock strikes 12?
Professor Brinsley helps Cal and the team uncover the last two lines of the Riddle. This is it. They know what the next step is-and hopefully it will lead them to the Singularity! Sligo, Bruno and Rafe have also hit Irish soil. The clock is ticking. Will they catch up with Cal? Will Cal claim the Singularity in time?As true intentions and buried secrets rise to the surface, Cal, Boges and Winter will soon discover what they're made of. Who will be the last one standing?
World Premiere January 2012www.Conspiracy365.tv