Hi JR, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Very busy but I’m enjoying life. I am very happy to be here.
How were you drawn into the concept that would become Hearts of New England?
I always wanted to write a series about soldiers coming home. I wanted to write something that included beautiful scenery of New England. I also wanted to promote local businesses into the show to give it authenticity. I love New England. I grew up in Maine,so I wanted to promote filming in the Northern States.
What was the writing process like?
The writing process comes very easily to me. My favorite part aside from acting, is creating the story. I outline each episode with 10 bullet format that I have created. A cool fact that a lot of people do not realize is that I do all my writing in the bathtub! Once my outline is complete, I usually complete my scripts in a day.
I understand you draw inspiration from The Sopranos and Damages – did you get to actually rewatch these series while writing the show?
No, I never rewatch a show. I like the style of “pushing the envelope”, that these shows did. I feel that they brought up the issues that make people feel uncomfortable. This makes for good T.V. I’m very excited in season 3 to add a psychiatrist, which both of these shows had.
What was the casting process like?
The casting process was done by old school networking. I would ask directors about people. Caitlynn McCauley, Kris Salvi,and Tyler Hajas were a Godsend! I would go to every film set that I could , just to meet different people. I am more particular in my casting process, as I have gotten more experience. I enjoy having one on one talks with actors I was truly blessed with an amazingly talented cast.
What were some of the things you were looking for on the cast and talent?
As director for different parts, you’re looking for different qualities in their acting. Mostly, you’re looking for someone who can deliver a good performance. The hardest part to cast in the show was the Mob Family as this show focuses on them. The dad needed to be able to deliver total badass and Kris Salvi, is Amazing! The wife had the hardest part,she had to deal with me the most. She had to be extremely talented and have the look for the part.That role was like finding gold! I would definitely promote and recommend Caitlynn for an actress to anyone. Tyler Hajas in season 2, delivers an amazing performance,which I cannot wait for everyone to see! We are all just looking for people who are as passionate about this project as we are.
Was the soapy tone of the show came through the shooting process or was this tone always meant to be from the beginning?
This is where I thank God I have an amazing wife! At first,the show was all action with no romance scenes. My wife said it didn’t make sense not to have any romance scenes in a drama. I rewrote it with the romance scenes to try and appeal to the female audience as well as males. I feel this worked out great! It makes the show way more diverse and brings another set of viewers to the table.
With the show getting a good reception – does that puts any pressure on you as you keep working on the show?
Absolutely,it puts tons of pressure on me especially because we just scored two distribution deals. My regular job is 50 hours a week minimum. I am an assistant store manager in a store with almost 300 associates. I feel truly blessed to meet up with Chris Fife. He has helped me keep up with the take off. Chris is one of the most intelligent film makers I have meant. Chris and I hit it off very well and now I consider him one of my best friends. He helps me make deadlines and plan so we can take the show to the next level.
When and where can people catch the show?
Maine Event Films youtube channel. Some local channels in Maine, but soon to be everywhere! We recently struck one distribution deal in the U.S. as well as one in India.
What else is happening next in JR Fortin’s world?
Right now, I’m focused on writing Season 3 of Hearts of New England. I’m also working on a Christmas Movie a western and was casted as an FBI Agent in a Feature, as well as a Police Officer in an upcoming Series. I am in alot of upcoming projects which I am very excited about. I’m also very excited of the quality we will be able to deliver for Season 3 because we will have access to much more equipment. I can’t Thank my cast and crew enough for all they have done for me.
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