Quebec Scene: CFP launches new slate with Mihalka comedy l’Homme Ideal

Montreal: Revamped and ready for action, Cinepix Film Properties plans to shoot eight to 10 made-for-tv and feature films, including European coproductions, in the next year or so. According to producer Christian Larouche, cfp’s projects will be in the $2.5 million to $10 million range.

Larouche, a senior vp at cfp and a 20-plus-year veteran of the Canadian distribution scene, says he will be in Paris at the end of the month for coproduction talks. After that it’s on to Milan and the mifed film market, Nov. 5-10.

At the moment, Larouche and cfp president Andre Link are producing L’Homme Ideal, a $3.2 million stcvq-crewed comedy which wraps Oct. 29 after five weeks.

Georges Mihalka (Scoop, La Florida) is directing. It’s the popular helmer’s first date after a serious accident last year filming on location in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

The film stars standup comic Marie-Lise Pilote and a virtual who’s who of Quebec show business in a story about a 35-year-old magazine editor and her frantic and zany search for the ideal man.

Other players include Jessica Barker, Marguerite Blais, Joe Bocan, Denis Bouchard, ex-boxer Deano Clavet, Marc-Andre Coallier, Roy Dupuis, Manuel Foglia, Remy Girard, Macha Grenon, American soap star Jean Leclerc, Radio-Canada talk show host and tv heartthrob Patrice L’Ecuyer, Francine Ruel and Linda Sorgini.

Craft credits go to first-time feature scripters Daniaile Jarry and Sylvie Pilon, dop Rodney Gibbons, art director Louise Jobin, post supervisor Peter Measroch (by the way a fine blues pianist) award-winning Marko Film sound remixer Hans Peter Strobl and delegate producer Barbara Shrier.

Also at cfp, producer John Dunning and busy director Marc Voizard have started filming Hawk’s Vengeance (working title), an English-track action pic shooting from Oct. 22 to Nov. 17.

Cantin, Walker helm Allegro fall action

Cameras are rolling at Allegro Films with two features on the go, Giles Walker’s Never Too Late and Roger Cantin’s film noir sequel La Vengeance de la femme en noir.

Allegro’s Stefan Wodoslawsky and Tom Berry are producing Never Too Late, a $2.75 million comedy with a fine ensemble cast including Jan Rubes (The Amateur, The Kiss), Olympia Dukakis (Steel Magnolias and Oscar winner for best supporting actress in Norman Jewison’s Moonstruck) and Jean Lapointe, Quebec actor and showman extraordinaire. Principal photography goes from Oct. 19 to late November. Corey Haim and Matt Craven also star.

The story opens with three old friends meeting again at a funeral. Adventure ensues when they decide to straighten out the crooked operator of an old folks home.

‘We have really high hopes for this filma poignant comedy and mystery caper, a beautiful little piece,’ says Berry.

Toronto-based novelist Donald Martin wrote the screenplay. Craft credits go to National Film Board cinematographer Savas Kalogires, production designer Paola Ridolfi and pm Renaud Mathieu.

Walker (Princes in Exile) won an Oscar for the short Bravery in the Field, produced by Wodoslawsky, and the two men were also part of the innovative nfb social trilogy, The Masculine Mystique, Last Straw and 90 Days.

Meanwhile, Allegro producer Franco Battista and director/writer Roger Cantin are in the thick of things filming La Vengeance de la femme en noir, a $3.4 million film noir comedy in the tradition of Cantin’s L’Assassin jouait du trombone. Cantin wrote and directed the hit children’s fantasy Matusalem, which scored an impressive $1.2 million at the Quebec box office.

Most of the characters and actors from L’Assassin return in Vengeance with Germain Houde’s wannabe actor character, Marleau, once again taking on the vindictive detective played by Raymond Bouchard (Scoop). Marleau sets out to solve a rash of disappearances which lead to a confrontation with the villainous Elkin, an eccentric cripple played by Marc Labreche.

Also starring are Celine Lomez, Han Masson and Anne Letourneau as the femme noir girls, Raymond Cloutier, Nathalie Choquette, Micheline Lanctot, Ghyslain Tremblay in the role of ‘Al Lumet,’ Normand Levesque as the bad cop’s sidekick, and Julie St-Pierre as the countess.

Shooting locations include the Bombardier plant, Oka Park, the Caf’ Conc Club in Chateau Champlain and the city’s Old Port. Shooting wraps Nov. 7, with additional blue-screen photography for optical and computer f/x ace sequences in January.

La Vengeance craft credits go to dop Alain Dostie, art director Vianney Gauthier, line producer Elisabeth Gimber, film editor Richard Comeau and costume designer Francesca Chamberland.

Investors are Telefilm Canada, sodec and Allegro Films Distribution, which has all Canadian rights. A spring or fall ’96 release is likely.

afd also has Canadian rights to Never Too Late. Foreign rights are held by l.a.-based Image Organization and Berry is talking to various parties about the u.s. domestic rights.

‘There’s a lot of interest in the picture and my dilemma is the usual one, which is, am I better off to finish the picture than to sell it at this point?’ he says.

Investors include Telefilm, afd, the Quebec and federal tax credits and the nfb.

afd and Triumph in the u.s. will release Christian Duguay’s sci-fi feature Screamers Jan. 19. Berry says the $14 million film scored totally ace reviews in both Variety and Screen International following a screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. Post Screamers, Allegro is prepping for another big-budget theatrical shoot, in the $22 million range, probably for a late January shoot.

Rozon ’round the world

Rozon has set up a series of highly lucrative European production/ broadcast deals for client Pram International’s comedy series Surprise sur prise. The extent and nature of the show’s international success is not well known, but the deals with France and Germany are estimated to be worth a cool $100 million.

‘I don’t know if people really understand the fact that this is a show being produced for France and Germany in primetime by a wholly-owned subsidiary of a Canadian company,’ says Andre Picard, vp international. ‘A lot of people do sales from their catalogue, or presales, but this may be the only case where a production company, following sales by Rozon, is setting up production companies abroad to deliver programs to the national broadcaster. It’s a nuance that I don’t think too many people in the milieu, including Telefilm, understand.’

Earlier this year, Picard moved to Montreal from Paris where he was based for two years.

In Quebec, first for Television Quatre Saisons and then Radio-Canada, Pram has produced 100 shows of Surprise sur prise, a candid-camera concept where celebrities are the victims, while production is headed towards the 75-show mark in France, first on TF1 and now on France 2.

In Germany, a dozen shows were taped for zdf and six shows have been completed this year for rtl under the title April April. The program debuted last month on rtl and, according to Picard, is ‘number one in its time slot.’

Rozon is now talking to potential licensees in the u.k., Finland and Holland.

Picard says the company has been opening doors with two other titles, The Just For Laughs Musical and Visual Series, a non-verbal montage of magic, jugglers and mimes, and The World of Courtemanche, a one-hour, 16mm $1 million performance documentary shot by director Francois Gingras and penned by Michel Courtemanche and comedian Daniel Lemire.

Sweden’s MTV Produktions has licensed the format for broadcast on TV3 in Denmark. TV3 broadcasts in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

nhk produced three one-hour shows at this year’s Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. Other foreign broadcasters to tape shows at the festival include rtl, a team from Antena in Spain, Fox Broadcasting and the u.k.’s Channel 4.

Following mipcom, Picard is headed to the Far East. The company also reps concept architects and designers and will meet in Japan with Dentsu Prox to discuss a major ’96 exhibition tentatively called Cinema Avenue.

U.S. film action

U.S. location projects filming in the Montreal region include Hart to Hart, one of a series of Dexter Productions’ mows for Family Channel starring Robert Wagner, Stephanie Powers, and Freeway, the together dog, and Mother Night, a $5.5 million New Line (Fine Line) Production feature based on the disturbingly true and sadly absurd Kurt Vonnegut novel.

Filming on Hart to Hart, budgeted in the $2.5 million range, started in early October and goes through to Nov. 10, with Michael Tuckner directing, Steeve McGlothen producing and veteran location pm Daniele Rohrbach line producing. Cast includes Sebastien Koch, Daniela Lunkewitz, Tara Sloane, Jason Chevalier and Roc Lafortune.

Mother Night stars Oscar nominee Nick Nolte (48 Hours, Prince of Tides) and is being directed by Keith Gordon, 32, one of the more promising talents on the American movie scene. Robert Weide wrote the screenplay and is coproducing. Leon Dudevoir is the film’s executive producer.

Quebec Film & TV Office director France Nadeau says Hart to Hart is using Montreal as an authentic location, an obvious boost to the city’s tourism industry.

As for Mother Night, Nadeau says the script first landed on her desk in July ’94. Nadeau’s office immediately rendered location (Celine Daigneault) and pm support, finalizing the deal 12 months later. The city is standing in for Berlin circa 1930-40 and New York in the ’60s. Some of the shooting is taking place at St. Vincent de Paul, one of the few old-style jails in Canada that is empty and available for filming, says Nadeau.

Dollar value of location shoots in Quebec is approximately on a par with ’94, when the total was in the $30 million to $35 million range. This year, overall film production is up, mainly because Quebec domestic film and tv production has remained high and because of an accelerated trend to coventure projects, which also benefit from the tax credit.

Both Hart to Hart and Mother Night are crewed by the stcvq and wrap in early November.