“The Grand Seduction” is the perfect film to be shot in Newfoundland, says Barbara Doran.
Doran, whose company Morag Loves Company is co-producing an English version of the 2003 Quebec film, said the script is one people in this province will be particularly able to relate to.
“It’s very funny and clever. It’s about a little fishing community that’s about to be shut down because after the fishing was closed there wasn’t much else,” Doran explained.
Known in French as “La Grande Seduction,” the original is a charming comedy about a remote Quebec fishing village’s efforts to get a doctor to settle there.
It was previously released for English-speaking audiences in a subtitled version called “Seducing Doctor Lewis.”
The original, which won several awards including the 2004 Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, was recommended for an English-language remake by European producers shortly after it came out, co-producer Roger Frappier said.
South Korea, one of the first to buy the film for its market, also wanted to do a take on it, as did Spain.
But Frappier didn’t want to rush into anything, saying the bids just didn’t feel right at the time.
Now, three international remakes of the film are poised to woo the world — Doran’s production is the first of them. Others will be cranked out by France’s Societé Miroir Magique and Italy’s Cattleya next spring.
“It all happened at the same time,” Frappier said. “We had other offers to have remakes in other different countries, but we stopped there.
“To me, to keep the integrity of the story was very important,” Frappier said of the “Grand Seduction” remake. “That’s why I took the time to find the right director and the right moment to do it. Now, it seems, it’s time.”
Calling Ken Scott the right director for the remake might be an understatement — he wrote the original.
Scott, who has directed such films as “The Rocket,” the 2005 biopic of Montreal Canadiens legend Maurice Richard, acknowledges that revisiting one of his first film triumphs will be a challenge.
“It’s a bit different to do a remake of my own script but it’s very exciting,” Scott said. “It’s a great story to tell, so that’s why I’m back on board.
“The original was a great success, was so well done by the original director Jean-Francois Pouliot, so I guess expectations are high,” he said. “But I guess that’s what’s so exciting about doing a remake.”
Shooting for the local production is to begin in Champney’s, Trinity Bight, Aug. 28. The area has also been featured in other major productions, including “The Shipping News” and the television miniseries “Random Passage,” also produced by Doran.
“The thing about the communities out in Trinity Bight, particularly Champney’s, is you can get an overview of that fishing community, and you see the water and the stages and the fishing boats,” Doran said, adding small bits of the film will be shot in St. John’s and Bonavista. “That’s kind of unique because a lot of our traditional communities have been destroyed, the stages are gone, the wharves are gone, the houses are covered in vinyl siding. There’s very little left of what was unique about Newfoundland and its architecture and in its design. We combed all over Newfoundland, but we settled on Trinity Bight.”
Casting has already begun for the film, with actor Robin Williams rumoured to be interested in the lead role. Doran said until contracts are signed, she’s unable to confirm anything.
“Whoever he is, he’ll be funny,” she said.
Much of the cast and crew for the film, which has a budget of $11 million, will be Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, she added.
“This kind of production is a wonderful little economic shot in the arm for Newfoundland, but most particularly, rural Newfoundland,” she said.
Frappier and Scott say the remake will be about 80 per cent the same as the original.
“I don’t find it’s so much about doing it different,” said Scott. “It’s just doing it in an original creative way. I want to get all the great comedy, all the great plot points that were in the original and then forget the original and go at it as if it was an original piece of work.”
The team is in talks with a U.S. studio and distributor but wouldn’t name names.
With files from the Canadian Press