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Friendly Manitoba fills in for Anytown, America

Tax credit lured Montreal filmmakers to their perfect location for Radius

Thomas Fricke</p><p>Caroline Labrèche (left) and Steeve Léonard spent two days filming their latest effort, Radius, in and around Winnipeg and Selkirk.</p></p>

Thomas Fricke

Caroline Labrèche (left) and Steeve Léonard spent two days filming their latest effort, Radius, in and around Winnipeg and Selkirk.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/12/2017 (381 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The premise of the movie Radius has a man (played by Diego Klattenhoff of Homeland and The Blacklist) waking up in the aftermath of a car crash with no memory of what happened, or his own identity. Exacerbating his troubles, he soon learns that any human or animal that comes within 50 feet of him immediately dies.

But just as he resigns himself to a life of seclusion, a woman (Charlotte Sullivan) arrives at his doorstep, likewise suffering amnesia but impervious to the curse he carries.

The film, playing at the Towne Cinemas, was shot in and around Winnipeg and Selkirk in the summer of 2016, under the direction of filmmakers Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard (Turbo Kid, Lost Cause), a couple creatively and romantically linked since they graduated from film class together.

Léonard, on the phone from their home in Montreal, admitted the project took them out of their Quebec base of operations due to Manitoba’s advantageous tax credits, and not the wide prairie expanses that could figure prominently in a project where horizontal space is a pivotal component.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/12/2017 (381 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The premise of the movie Radius has a man (played by Diego Klattenhoff of Homeland and The Blacklist) waking up in the aftermath of a car crash with no memory of what happened, or his own identity. Exacerbating his troubles, he soon learns that any human or animal that comes within 50 feet of him immediately dies.

But just as he resigns himself to a life of seclusion, a woman (Charlotte Sullivan) arrives at his doorstep, likewise suffering amnesia but impervious to the curse he carries.

The film, playing at the Towne Cinemas, was shot in and around Winnipeg and Selkirk in the summer of 2016, under the direction of filmmakers Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard (Turbo Kid, Lost Cause), a couple creatively and romantically linked since they graduated from film class together.

Léonard, on the phone from their home in Montreal, admitted the project took them out of their Quebec base of operations due to Manitoba’s advantageous tax credits, and not the wide prairie expanses that could figure prominently in a project where horizontal space is a pivotal component.

"We had a producer with a contact at (provincial cultural agency) Manitoba Film & Music, and they offer a tax credit on crew," Léonard said. "We discovered if we go to Winnipeg, we can shoot for 22 days instead of 18. We did the math and everything worked out.

"The whole point was to make the (location) look like Anytown, America, and Winnipeg is mostly anglophones, so all the road signs are in English and things like that," he said.

"We wanted access to some rural areas and we knew you had that too."

Ironically, the production itself was limited to a 45-minute travel radius around Winnipeg.

"If you went outside that 45-minute radius, you had to pay overtime and things like that," Léonard said. "We had to make it work, but it worked out really well."

Léonard admited the wide-open spaces initially rattled him.

"I’ve never driven through the Prairies and man, it is huge and it is flat," he said.

"I knew that going in, but when you’re driving towards a location somewhere and you see the horizon and you never see the end of it, it’s quite disconcerting. It’s almost like being on the ocean.

Caroline Labrèche & Steeve Léonard (centre) on the set of Radius</p></p>

Caroline Labrèche & Steeve Léonard (centre) on the set of Radius

"That helped us out because we do deal with distance," he said. "Just being able to do these really wide shots, the idea of space and the idea of distance was there to begin with visually."

He was also grateful the licence plate maxim "Friendly Manitoba" proved to be accurate, especially when it came time for he and Labrèche to do location scouting without an actual location scout.

"It was just me and Caroline and our director of photography — three regular people with no identification — just knocking on doors in Selkirk saying, ‘Hi, we’re making a movie. Can we see your offices?’" he said.

"And they’re like: ‘Sure, come on in.’ People were very friendly and very helpful. That was nice."

The concept behind the movie — what Léonard calls a "death bubble" — was the result of a couple of disparate inspirations, he said.

"It started out, we saw the movie Oldboy and we thought: let’s make a movie about a man and a woman and something goes horribly wrong for them. So we fiddled around with that a little bit," he said.

"Around that same time, I was getting back to reading comic books because I hadn’t done that since I was a kid... And I fell upon this story about Superman in the ’80s. One issue had him exiled, orbiting around the Earth, but unable to come to Earth because if he did so, people would die.

"And I thought: that’s an interesting concept. What if we made something where an ordinary man was cursed with a death bubble around him? So we took that and combined it with a man and a woman having a very crappy relationship and over the course of three to four years, the script just evolved and evolved until what it is now."

The filmmakers did have to adapt when the province’s film business proved to lack one component available in larger film centres.

To put it succinctly: we don’t have a cow, man.

"In the script, we needed a cow for a scene and no one told us there’s no actual animal wrangler in Winnipeg," Léonard said.

"So we kind of had to adapt the script to some of these things... It all worked out in the end and everyone we worked with was great."

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @FreepKing

 

Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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