Achieving the right balance between spectacular and empathy, without becoming voyeur or turning iron in the wound: this is the great challenge of Alexis Durand Brault, director of the series “Mégantic”, inspired by the railway tragedy that devastated the community de Lac-Mégantic, on the night of July 6, 2013.
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An important duty of memory: this is how the creators behind “Mégantic” (Quebecor Content and ALSO Productions) define the raison d’être of the project, which will arrive on Club illico next spring.
“If they did ‘Chernobyl’, there is no reason why we should not do ‘Mégantic’. It is important for the children who did not know this time, for the history, for the survivors, for those who died. This story deserves to be written down somewhere, for it to become a reference, ”said Alexis Durand Brault, who sees the work as a tribute to the strength and courage of the united people of Lac-Mégantic.
“In the face of great adversity, there are people who manage to do extraordinary things”, he points out, respectfully.
Originally, documentary filmmaker Jean-François Proteau, a native of Lac-Mégantic, suggested to ALSO Productions to make a documentary on the drama of his hometown. The idea was not completely put away and will probably see the light of day on another platform, but it also quickly juxtaposed that of telling the facts in the form of a fictional series.
Helped by Jean-François Proteau and two other collaborators from the region, Karine Blanchette and Stéphanie Girardeau, Alexis Durand-Brault and the screenwriter Sylvain Guy (“Mafia inc”, “Louis Cyr: the strongest man in the world”, etc), have been put in contact with several citizens of Megantic for three years.
From their discussions with the victims, relatives of the victims and other witnesses, the scenarios of the eight episodes of “Mégantic” were developed, each of which will recount the horrible event (and its hours before and after). a different point of view. Each hour slot will follow a particular character or family, and we will relive the accident each time, depending on the given perspective. Sometimes we will be at the very heart of the derailed train; other times, we will be very far from it. The different protagonists will constantly cross paths from one episode to another.
“Sylvain Guy wanted to do a choral thing, a crossover. Each episode is like a film in its own right, none is similar, ”says Alexis Durand Brault, who anticipates the pleasure of filming such scenes, but also the sensitive and delicate responsibility that rests on his shoulders.
“I don’t want to disappoint the people of Mégantic. I want to do justice to what they told us, what they were kind enough to share with us. I know I have to make sure. ”
The distribution of “Mégantic” has not yet started. There will of course be an actress to play Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche, or her equivalent in the story, but Alexis Durand Brault does not put forward any name for the moment. The active search for actors will start in two weeks.
Because it is only in August that Durand Brault will officially start filming. Some scenes will be filmed in Lac-Mégantic itself (those revolving around the church, the Observatory, the lake), but the scene of the accident having been razed by it, they must be reconstructed for the needs of the screen. The teams at MELS in Montreal have therefore been hard at work for a long time to bring the small town back to life in every detail.
“We completely reconstruct the village in two stages, first with the Musi-Café and the street in front of the church, before the accident. Then the street, after, once everything has exploded, summarizes Alexis Durand Brault. It’s a lot of work. I made a commitment to make it look like the downtown core that these people once knew. I want them to see their street again, but I have to rebuild it because it no longer exists. And no one is going to lend me a train … “
ALSO Productions (which belongs to Alexis Durand Brault and Sophie Lorain) is also behind three other series currently under construction: “Portrait-robot” (which Club illico will unveil next week), “Sortez-moi de moi” (coming soon on Crave) and “Un lien familial” (to see in August on ICI Tou.tv Extra).
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