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Graeme Manson’s Final Letter to #CloneClub

Sarah. You made it sestra.

I am oddly proud of our girl. Her journey can be measured in the sweat of 20-odd writers over the course of 5 seasons. We had a tough road, we writers and her. Her spontaneity drove us into countless corners. She left us reeling, like she did to Felix and S. But we grew up with her in the room together. If only we could all be so brave and tough and loving and vulnerable. She always fought for the underdog. And, in a time when the powerful so willingly scapegoat the marginalized for their own political, rhetorical, and commercial ends, Sarah showed us what a true hero is.

From the start, Orphan Black held high one simple premise: there is strength in diversity. It’s a biological fact for biological beings. Me, and all the writers alumni thank Cosima Herter for this ethos. And we thank Tatiana for digging as deep as humanly possible to embody it.

Season One, we really had no idea what we were getting into. John and I were determined to throw everything we could at Season One because we might never get another. We shot masses of overtime, but our producers at Temple Street stuck with us. The Technodolly technology worked (most of the time). And Tatiana was singular in her multiplicity. She astonished her crew, buoyed us up, and at the same time leaned into us. It was a massive exercise in trust. Every day her work ethic held the best traits of each of her characters —  fierceness, instinct, intellect, loyalty, nurture, hilarity. In that first season, we were so naïve. When the show broke through, I think we managed to stay largely true to our wide-eyed, Season One hearts.

FLASH FORWARD TO THE FINALE: A MESSAGE FROM
RENEE ST. CYR

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That’s Graeme and me deep into writing the finale. Do we look sane? Do we look like we’re having a good time? I think we might’ve been at this particular moment, but that fierce mania in our eyes is real. It’s the product of friction and grit, jokes and tears, eureka!s and apologies… and alas, something bubbly at 6 a.m., toasting the last wrap of the series. I remember when we were in the thick of our first draft; I told Graeme I’d lost my discernment. He stopped writing to read over my draft and called to say, “It’s good. Keep going… and extend that Felix/Rachel scene. Hello isn’t enough in that first beat.” I knew he was stressed with his own workload, but he paused his momentum to stoke mine.

It’s appropriate we filmed TWO birthing scenes for the finale. I’ve seen my sister give birth, so I know what’s what. But watching Tat from behind the monitor, I kept forgetting we were making TV. My legs involuntarily squeezing together, bracing against the imagined vaginal pain. Tatiana’s lovely mother, Renate Maslany, visited set during Sarah’s labour. At one point we made eyes, her expression portraying some confusion and discomfort through a proud smile. I leaned over… “This must be weird for you.” She nodded.

So! These birthing scenes are appropriate because that is what this incredible team of people did — they birthed something, and people got more gray hair because of it, and we all shared the same flus, and everyone showed up prepared to give their all. Throughout shooting the final episode I got to witness each character wrap and listen to the emotional actors tumble over their mounds of gratitude. I heard the word “family” used a lot. There were lots of tears, and laughing in the tears.

I want to give special thanks to some key voices that I leaned on when the supply of writers had dwindled. Co-Producer Mackenzie Donaldson for allotting every spare minute to help brainstorm, generously offering her wealth of creativity. Aisha Porter-Christie for staying up stupidly late to give notes before publishing. Cosima Herter for courageously making her passion towards the show’s themes known, guiding us to constantly dig deeper in portraying the insidious and complex systems of oppression. And Tatiana Maslany, a fierce human that confronts oppression with grace, intelligence, and fire. She is a star, but she doesn’t step into the limelight, not unless she’s pulling someone in there with her… or if it’s just literally because the scene requires she stand under a spotlight. Then it’s just work.

-Renée

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