Quebec film La Grande Seduction gets triple remake
N.L. shoot for anglophone version of Seducing Dr. Lewis
Three international remakes of the 2003 Quebec film La Grande Seduction are poised to woo the world, with the first set to go before the cameras in Newfoundland and Labrador on Aug. 28.
Other versions will be turned out in French by France's Société Miroir Magique and in Italian by Cattleya in the spring.
The film known in English as Seducing Dr. Lewis is a charming comedy about a remote Quebec fishing village's efforts to get a doctor to settle there.
After winning several awards, including the 2004 Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, La Grande Seduction was recommended for an English-language remake by European producers shortly after it came out, says producer Roger Frappier.
Frappier is now producing the English-language version and gave a green light to the French and Italian remakes.
"It all happened at the same time," he said Monday. "We had other offers to have remakes in other different countries but we stopped there."
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.
"To me, to keep the integrity of the story was very important," Frappier said. "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."
Ken Scott directs
Ken Scott, who wrote the original script, is now directing the English-language version. Scott, who has directed such films as The Rocket, the 2005 biopic of Montreal Canadiens legend Maurice Richard, says 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."
La Grande Seduction has broad appeal because it's a universal, human story of underdogs bucking the odds to triumph, Frappier said.
"It's a story also that is full of hope," said Frappier, who worked with Denys Arcand on Jesus of Montreal and Jean-Claude Lauzon on Un Zoo la nuit.
The team is in talks with a U.S. studio and distributor in a bid to enter the U.S. market, but wouldn't name names.
Casting is also underway, although Frappier and Scott wouldn't give any hints. Rumours have swirled that Robin Williams has seen the script and is interested but the filmmakers wouldn't confirm anything.
The Newfoundland and Labrador village of Champney's will provide the locale for the fictional town of Dunfield in the movie.
Interestingly, Frappier said he considered shooting the original in Newfoundland but couldn't because he didn't have a local co-producer and couldn't get around Quebec funding rules.
The production ended up in Harrington Harbour, on Quebec's Lower North Shore.
But seeing a provincial tourism ad for Newfoundland and Labrador rekindled his interest and he's since teamed up with Barbara Doran of filmmakers Morag Loves Company.
Describing Newfoundland as "incredibly beautiful," Scott and Frappier have scouted locations along the East Coast and are thrilled at what they've found.
"It's fantastic," he said. "Those villages don't exist any more in Quebec."