Actor and filmmaker Don McKellar has been named the newest director of “The Grand Seduction,” stepping up in what one producer has called a “situation of emergency.”
McKellar will direct the film, an adaptation of the French-Canadian 2003 blockbuster “La Grande Séduction” produced by Montreal-based company Max Films and St. John’s producer Barbara Doran, which will be shot in Champney’s, Trinity Bight, starting in July. The area has also featured in “The Shipping News” and “Random Passage,” also produced by Doran.
The film has a budget of $11 million, and most of the cast and crew are said to be locals.
McKellar is the third director hired for the film since it was set to start shooting late last August.
The original director, Michael Dowse, left the project due to artistic differences with Max Films producer Roger Frappier.
He was replaced by Ken Scott — writer of the original movie and the screenplay for the remake — who left the production unexpectedly last month to direct a remake of his 2011 Quebec hit “Starbuck” with DreamWorks in the United States.
“This was a sudden departure for Ken,” Doran told The Telegram in an email last week. “We are now in the process of talking with another director, and will move forward. That’s life … in film.”
Max Films announced McKellar’s appointment Wednesday morning.
McKellar played a comedian who was afraid of clowns in a Season 1 episode of “Republic of Doyle.”
Meanwhile, the organization representing 15 Quebecois film technicians working on “The Grand Seduction” filed a grievance against Max Films, saying the delays in the production of the film were breaking their collective agreement.
Jean-Claude Rocheleau, the director of L’Association québécoise des technicians de l’image et du son, told Montreal’s La Presse that Max Films halted the shooting last July, and the organization filed a grievance at the beginning of August. When nothing had progressed as of Oct. 21, the organization applied for arbitration. An arbitrator was appointed last December.
“We’re waiting to get the dates when we’ll be able to make ourselves heard,” Rocheleau said.
Frappier told the francophone newspaper the filming of “The Grand Seduction” had been postponed just once, from last summer to this, with Scott’s agreement. Everything that was supposed to be paid to the technicians according to their contract was paid, he said, declining further comment on the issue since the grievance process has begun.
Frappier issued a statement about McKellar’s appointment Wednesday, saying, “In situations of emergency, we have to find exceptional answers, and for me, Don McKellar is an exceptional filmmaker.”
“The Grand Seduction” revolves around the tiny outport of Dunfield Cross, which would be set financially if it could secure an oil platform service base. A town doctor is needed to land the contract, and resident Murray French takes it upon himself to find one. When one candidate lands in their lap, the town rallies to seduce him to stay after his one-month trial. As the month grows, so does the doctor’s fondness for the village, although he’s clueless that everything he loves is a web of lies set up by Murray.
Robin Williams had been rumoured last summer to be interested in the lead role in the film, although producers haven’t confirmed anything.
“Whoever he is, he’ll be funny,” Doran told The Telegram at the time.