cover story: Thrills, chills and spills on Conspiracy 365 .........
Every month Cal Ormond’s life takes another dramatic turn, writes Lisa Simmons
HARRISON Gilbertson hopes viewers like the thrilling new Conspiracy 365 as much he and his co-stars enjoyed making it.
The Adelaide-reared 18-year-old knows fans of Gabrielle Lord’s bestselling action adventure books will be watching as he brings young antihero Cal Ormond to life on TV screens.
Like the books, the 12-episode thriller will be released in monthly instalments, each devoted to a calendar month.
The first, called January, debuts on Saturday week.
The $13 million Family Movie Channel series is the the most expensive made for pay TV in Australia.
Filmed in Melbourne over 26 weeks, its complimentary website will role out additional content, games and video blogs recorded by the main players.
‘‘Everyone, cast and crew, has worked so hard on this. We’re proud of what’s been accomplished . . . well I know I am,’’ he says.
Gilbertson completed his HSC while filming the adventures of the young fugitive who has a year – the 365 days of the title – to unravel a deadly family secret, assisted by young friends played by kids TV favourite Marny Kennedy ( Mortified, The Saddle Club) and screen newcomer Taylor Glockner.
Gilbertson, who appeared in the homegrown films Australian Rules and Beyond Hill 60, enjoyed working so closely for the first time with actors so near his own age.
‘‘We got on well,’’ says Gilbertson, who adds the trio sparked over their shared passion for acting.
‘‘Taylor was always referencing this actor and that – I enjoyed his method approach and I learned some things I never knew.’’
Like Gilbertson, Kennedy completed her HSC while the trio worked on Conspiracy 365.
‘‘Marny is a smart and lovely girl. She comes from a different work background to me. As someone who’s been able to do a lot of television work, if I had problems I could talk to her and she’d say ‘I remember on this show the same thing happened to me and this is how I dealt with it’.’’
Gilbertson enjoyed training to prepare ahead of the stunt-heavy plot, filled with thrills, spills and car chases.
Like his co-stars, he had not read Lord’s books when he landed his role.
The show’s makers advised them to keep it that way. The idea was to keep their responses fresh to some of the fearful situations faced by the teens.
The series, adapted from Lord’s books with the author consulting, has some points of difference, says Gilbertson.
‘‘The thing I like about this Cal is he’s so normal. He’s someone you or I could know,’’ he says.
‘‘He starts out as this kid who is completely gutted and then something happens that makes him run, and he’s not good at that, but as the series progresses he gets fitter, stronger, leads his pack. Amazing circumstances call for amazing results. He doesn’t start out as a hero, but he becomes one.’’
The series opens at Cal’s father’s funeral where a stranger approaches to warn the teen he has a year to solve the puzzle that killed his father and brings death or riches to first-born sons.
An attack that leaves his sister injured follows. Cal is blamed and flees.
Meanwhile, lawyer Oriana De La Force (Julia Zemiro) and the wicked Sligo (Rob Carlton), hope the teen will be their passport to riches and will use any means to get results.
Conspiracy 365: January: Saturday, January 14, 5.30pm, Family Movie Channel