Stephen Stohn: Eclare, Holly J and more!

Photo Credit: Stephen’s Twitter

We got some exclusive scoop from the president of Epitome and Executive Producer of Degrassi himself, Stephen Stohn! He’ll be inducted into Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame on March 10, 2011, so we are SO honored to have this interview.

THE STAR SCOOP:
Thanks so much for doing this interview! Let’s dive right in for the question you’ve probably been asked a million times: What can we expect from the rest of season 11 of Degrassi?

STEPHEN STOHN:
Just to be clear, the episodes now on the air, with the final broadcast on April 22nd (the anniversary of Julia’s death) are the balance of Season 10.

We are creating scripts, and casting some new characters for the potential Season 11, as we always do this time of year, but until the broadcasters TeenNick and MuchMusic make an official announcement we can’t confirm whether there will or will not be a Season 11.  Having said that, the ratings were so good last year I think we could all be forgiven for thinking that it is very likely going to be a Season 11!

THE STAR SCOOP:
How do you think this season compares to other seasons?

STEPHEN STOHN:
I wish it were possible for the fans to be in the building during our production process.  It is really electric, and even more so this season with so many episodes we produced in such a short time frame.

Everyone on the cast and crew worked so hard, and the results were so good, that the energy level just built and built and built throughout the season — we were all so proud of what we accomplished!

THE STAR SCOOP:
We know it’s important to introduce new characters and that there isn’t always a place for people like Ellie, or Alex or Manny or Toby or…we could go on and on…to come back. But what about Spike? Since Snake is ever-present, what are her chances of showing up alongside him?

STEPHEN STOHN:
The storylines evolve in a very fluid manner.  While the writers create the stories, in some ways the stories develop their own momentum.  So it is possible that Spike could be seen again, and also possible that we’ll be taken in a different direction.  There are so many stories we’d love to tell, and so many characters we’d love to feature. There’s only so much that can be fit into each 22-minute episode!

THE STAR SCOOP:
Do you have a favorite storyline of all time and for the current class?

STEPHEN STOHN:
I have a real soft spot for the very first story, where Emma gets stalked by an Internet predator.  Everything was a “first” then and it turned out so well – I can remember everything about that episode, the first read-through, the casting, everything, and of course it was the basis for a decade of production.

For the current class, I think that “Eclare” has struck such a chord in all of us that their continuing story has to be my favourite. Having said that, there are many other great stories and relationships – I’d like to mention the tremendous job that Jordy has undertaken in making the Adam character so relatable.

THE STAR SCOOP:
How much do you utilize the knowledge of the actors for stories/scenes, etc. Can you give an example?

STEPHEN STOHN:
The read-throughs are very cool.  The cast, the writers, the director, Linda and I are there and none of the cast has any idea what the scripts that they are going to read are about. We usually read four scripts in one session, and they are face down on the table – just like at an exam!

For each script, at a signal, they turn the scripts over and just start reading out loud. Our Story Coordinator reads the descriptions out loud (eg: Exterior, Day, Adam walks into the Torres living room with a frown on his face) and then as each character’s dialogue comes up the actor who plays that character reads their dialogue. So in the end, the entire script is read out loud and we time the reading to get a sense of whether the script is running long or short.

Most importantly, we then have a general discussion where we encourage all the actors to give their thoughts on the script, point out areas where it might not have seemed realistic and ask their impressions of what we could do to make the script better.

THE STAR SCOOP:
Some fans have pointed out that Eli’s deceased girlfriend is obviously Julia, and Julia was also the name of Joey’s wife who died…it’s just a coincidence, right?

STEPHEN STOHN:
Is it also a coincidence that Holly J Sinclair’s middle initial is “J”?  And what does the J stand for you might ask?

THE STAR SCOOP:
We’ve heard rumblings about a Degrassi spin off – what is the status (is this true?) and who might be included?

STEPHEN STOHN:
We’re working on the new show with the working title Highlands Gardens. It might or might not be a Degrassi spin-off — we’re still deciding. One of the characters could be a Degrassi character, although it could work not being a Degrassi character also, so we’re developing the show with both possibilities in mind. Shooting will be in August/September, so we’ll have had to make up our minds by then!

THE STAR SCOOP:
We heard you once thought about doing a musical episode. Still thinking about it?

STEPHEN STOHN:
You can imagine how much fun that would be.  And given my love for music (witness how much I loved Instant Star and how devastated I was when it was canceled a year earlier that I had hoped) it is an intriguing thought.  To me though, it really is something to be done for a mini or maybe even for a longer version webisode.

I loved the Buffy one and also the Chicago Hope one, but the reality is that it means stepping outside reality, which is something we do all the time in the minis. Stepping outside reality is something we try not to do in the show itself!

THE STAR SCOOP:
Lastly, can you give us one little hint about something that will happen a little later in the season?

STEPHEN STOHN:
Assuming Season 11 moves forward, there will come a point when some of the characters will graduate and a new school year will begin with new Grade 9’s. The characters we are casting for at this moment aren’t those Grade 9’s yet (those will be cast later) but these four new characters we are currently casting will help to fill out the existing school — and provoke some drama as they always do!

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