After Babine and Esimésac, two films directed by Luc Picard which were successful in theaters in 2008 and 2012, the storyteller Fred Pellerin will have the chance to see his fantastic universe adapted to the cinema for a third time. And this time, it is the filmmaker Francis Leclerc who will have the mission of bringing the legendary characters of Saint-Élie-de-Caxton to life on the big screen.
Leclerc (Barefoot in the dawn, A summer without a point or a sure hit) indeed began shooting the film last Tuesday The Time Harvester, a film adaptation of the show of the same title that Pellerin presented on the boards from 2008 to 2011. This feature film that he describes as his most ambitious project to date will bring together Jade Charbonneau, Pier-Luc Funk, Céline Bonnier, Michèle Deslauriers and Marc Messier.
“I cannot reveal the production costs of the film because they are likely to change again due to COVID-19, but I can still say that it is the biggest budget I have worked with in my life, ”said Francis Leclerc during a telephone interview with the Newspaper last week.
“Obviously, it is not comparable to the means available to Hollywood films of the genre, far from it. But I still feel that I have tools that I didn’t have for my previous films. And I really like it. “
Francis Leclerc and Fred Pellerin started collaborating a few years ago when the filmmaker invited the storyteller to work on the dialogues of his previous film, Barefoot in the dawn, an adaptation of the novel by Félix Leclerc (Francis’ father).
“Quickly, we found a chemistry and a kinship in the way we work together,” says Fred Pellerin. It was great fun so I had the idea to embark on the project The Time Harvester. “
After seeing Luc Picard adapt two of his tales (Babine and Esimésac), Pellerin is thrilled to see another filmmaker bring his imagination to the screen.
“Cinema makes me tripping because it’s a job that involves a lot of people at the same time, observes the popular storyteller. Me, my work as a storyteller is very lonely. I am alone on stage and I write alone. In cinema, it’s the opposite. When you make a film, there are 150 or 200 people who will feed on it and push the story a little further. The person making the costumes is going to see a lot bigger than I imagined. Same thing with the sets. Your original idea is therefore multiplied by 150. “
More current than ever
The Time Harvester tells the story of an illness-worn grandmother who tries to convince her 11-year-old grandson that death does not exist. She will tell him about the adventures of her youth in Saint-Élie-de-Caxton, in 1927, when she had tried to eliminate death in the village.
“I wrote this tale when my father died [en 2007], explains Fred Pellerin. All the anger that I felt at that time, I put it in this story where there is a character who kills death. The narrative is set a century ago, but with everything going on today with the pandemic and that eerie shadow hanging over us, it looks like it’s more relevant than ever. It’s a story that I like a lot because I find it goes to areas that I haven’t been to often with my other tales. “
Even if he describes The Time Harvester like “a fable about death”, Francis Leclerc assures us that we will find in his film the humor, the poetry and the fantasy of the tales of Pellerin.
“What I liked about Fred’s tale when I saw it on stage is that it’s so funny and touching,” says the filmmaker. For me, Fred’s universe is very close to Chaplin’s. It is this emotion that I want to bring to the screen with my vision of things. “
The shooting of The Time Harvester takes place this fall in Saint-Armand, in the Eastern Townships. A second filming block is planned for next spring in Montreal. The film will be released in 2021.