Canadian screenwriter Tassie Cameron has contributed to numerous television shows and films throughout her career. She was a story editor and writer on CTV’s Degrassi: The Next Generation, the co-writer of miniseries Would Be Kings, and writer on Flashpoint. Currently, Cameron is the head writer and executive producer on the ABC/Global Television Network series Rookie Blue, a police drama that first premiered in 2010. Cameron sat down with us in an exclusive interview to discuss how the rookies have changed and what’s in store for them this season.
Q: How did Rookie Blue come about?
Cameron: It seems so long ago. I had been working on a miniseries with [writer] Ilana Frank and [director] David Wellington, with whom I had worked with many times before. On that miniseries, we met a cop who was consulting with us and mentioned that he was a rabbi (his words) to a bunch of younger cops. Sort of a mentor. We were intrigued about that relationship. I think that stuck in Ilana’s brain. I went on to Flashpoint, but she kept pursuing that little spark of an idea and brought in [writers/producers] Morwyn Brebner and Ellen Vanstone to start creating it, and then I came in. We sort of created it all together at that point.
Q: Did you think when you started that Rookie Blue would be as popular as it is?
Cameron: No. [laughs]. You always hope it will be. As I said, I just came off the first season of Flashpoint, which had turned out to be quite a surprising hit in Canada and the States. So I was hopeful that we could do it again, that I could be a part of a show that got that kind of passionate viewership. You always hope. But no, I don’t think you start out imagining this level of love.
Q: Do you work with the actors to come up with story ideas or do the writers sit and plan and then just let the actors know?
Cameron: We love our actors. I think anybody who follows the show or who has talked to our actors would say we have a very close relationship with them, we care very much what they think. At the beginning of the season, I tried to sit down with each of the actors and talk a little bit about where we are going and what they think—different character arcs we are thinking about for their characters. We are always open for their suggestions and input. But I would say, for the most part, it’s the writers and the producers kind of crafting the story line.
Q: What do you think makes Rookie Blue different for any other cop show?
Cameron: I think that it is the rookie aspect of the show. I know a lot of people say, “How can they be rookies? They are four years on the job?” That aside, I mean the tone of it. They are not superheroes, they are not experts. They are newbies, they are rookies. They make mistakes, they are young. They are juggling their personal lives. I think that kind of fun, fresh tone is what is different from most of the police shows on right now. Also, I must say, our cast. The chemistry with our main cast is so remarkable, that has helped differentiate it.
Q: What is new with the characters in season four?
Cameron: By the time we came to season four, I think we felt it was important that we challenged ourselves and the viewers and the actors. Which is why we focused on this “change or die” theme a little bit. We wanted to make sure we were staying fresh and relevant. We tried to start people in different places. We started six months after our season three finale and people are in different places romantically, professionally. We are with Andy a little bit and we are trying to catch up with what has happened while she was gone and where Andy fits in the world again.
Q: I thought fans were going to be mad that Andy and Sam are not together. Was that an issue for you when you were writing it or was that exciting that you were going to be challenging the viewers?
Cameron: We would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind to not know that the viewers care deeply about the Sam and Andy relationship. Of course that is always in our minds as we are constructing a season and figuring out what these characters are going to do. But at the same time, it’s an ensemble show.
Click below to hear the rest of our interview with Tassie Cameron, including answering fan questions, if fans will be happy with the finale this year, and why she cast Ben Bass as Sam.
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