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Spotlight on Connections Productions Inc.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Behind-the-scenes view of the set for Pour l'amour du country

Connections Productions, a francophone, Bedford-based production company has made a name for itself across Canada. Although many might expect them to film in a large, francophone city, the company sees many benefits and opportunities here in Nova Scotia. We caught up with producer Chris Goguen to learn more about them.

Pour la version en français.

Tell us a little about Connections Productions and its history in Nova Scotia.

Connections Productions has been producing since 1997, shot in 43 different countries and 5 continents. We’ve produced over 500 hours of broadcast television, have had several nominations and won multiple awards including Geminis and Hot Docs. We have produced for many broadcasters including: History, Discovery, TFO, CBC, Super Ecran, TMN, Movie Central, TV5, APTN, ICI ARTV, ICI Radio-Canada and Reseau des sports (RDS). We moved to Nova Scotia in early 2015 and have since shot seasons 13 and 14 of Pour l’amour du country, season 1 of Clé du studio and season 3 of Trajectoires. We are currently shooting season 4 of Trajectoires and working on season 15 of Pour l’amour du country.

What kind of productions does your team work on?

Connections Productions Inc. has produced everything from feature films, drama series, animations, documentary series and musical varieties shows. Over the years, we have carved ourselves a niche in the musical variety genre and have produced ongoing series Pour l’amour du country and Clé du studio, both shot in Nova Scotia. We are also producing the fourth season of the popular hockey documentary series, Trajectoires.

You’re working on Season 4 of Trajectoires – why do you think it has been so successful?

I’d like to take the credit for its success; however, it’s NHL hockey, so it sells itself in Canada! Our series comprises of 8 x 1 hour shows per season, shot all over North America. Trajectoires takes an in-depth look at the lives of players who have retired from the NHL. Our series is successful and resonates with our fan base because it’s not just about hockey, it’s about the person inside the player.  This player has fears, aspirations, family concerns and a life much like you and I.  The difference is, these players’ professional lives are played out on the front page of the newspaper.  And just because we know the player doesn’t mean we know the man.  Our series focuses on what the player was feeling and going through as he goes the highs and lows of his life and career.

We start the documentary at the very beginning of their lives, with their childhood and upbringing. We then follow their careers, through every aspect, all the way to Junior hockey. We leave no stone unturned and we talk to friends and family, coaches and teammates – often celebrities of the league.  We then continue through the ups and down of pro hockey, on and off the ice.  We always finish the show with a hopeful message regarding where they are now.

We’ve calculated that .03% of kids who play hockey will ever get a check for playing the game, even fewer will get the big NHL payday.  That being said, we view pulling an NHL jersey over your head and stepping under the brightest lights in hockey as an amazing accomplishment. There are no bad careers, all of these men have achieved something truly remarkable.  Some are truly inspirational, like Francis Bouillon, a 5,8’ undrafted kid playing roller hockey who managed to stick it out and play nearly 1,000 games in the NHL.  Our quest is to find truth.  We bring them back in time to re-live some incredibly joyous and painful moments.  In most episodes we see tears and laughter!  We are after content that isn’t found online and exists only close to their hearts and soul.  As a fan first seeing these emotions come out, it is truly magical and our many fans agree.

We’ve covered Hall of Fame players such as Denis Savard, and others whose careers were cut short by horrific injuries such as Donald Audette.  We’ve had flamboyant intimidators like George Laraque and quiet superstars like Pierre Turgeon.  Everyone brings something unique to the table and every year a new crop of potential Trajectoires candidates retire.  We LOVE making this show!

Former NHL star, Pierre Turgeon on set for TV series Trajectoires

What goes into this production?

Trajectoires has a hectic, 60-day shooting schedule spread over multiple shoots and considerable travel all over North America. Where our players are retired, they are still highly active, involved and in demand, so we make it easy for them by going to them and working around their schedule. We have travelled to larger centers like New York, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Dallas and often in Montreal and Toronto to get footage for the show. We have also reached remote towns like Maniwaki and Rouyn-Noranda to capture childhood moments. Overall, 20 crew members are involved in the production of Trajectoires, from writers and music composers to extensive post production. The show is shot in 6K, 5.1 sound mix and vast amount of NHL archives are in each show.

Tell us more about Pour l’amour du country.

Pour l’amour du country (translates to “For the Love of Country”) is a celebration of country music. Country music is alive and more popular than ever in Canada and especially in the French speaking areas of this country. Influenced by American country music from the 40’s and 50’s, francophone country artists have flourished and maintained a steady stream of fans and followers. Pour l’amour du country reflects the ever changing face of country music. The host, the very popular Patrick Norman, along with his outstanding house band present the best of French, and often English country music. The line up often includes popular singers who come and sing for their love and appreciation of country music. 14 years later and 180 television shows in the can, the series is as popular as ever and we are preparing to celebrate and shoot its 15th season at Alderney Landing Theatre, Dartmouth in May and June 2017.

What goes into this production?

We have a crew of over 100 members to produce this series. Artists and musicians fly in and fly out over a period of 3 weeks and Alderney Landing becomes unrecognisable as we transform it in a television studio. Pour l’amour du country is recorded live to tape, shot with 4 cameras and has a beautiful new set built for the space and an impressive lighting grid. It’s recorded with a live audience so come see us!

What is it like to film a French show in Nova Scotia?

Nova Scotia has a small but vibrant francophone community. So for us, shooting in Nova Scotia feels perfectly natural. The people have always been great to work with and are extremely accommodating. Being outside a major francophone center, like Montreal, gives us a different point of view and we bring a unique perspective to the table, which, we hear, is refreshing for broadcasters. Overall, the benefits, like easy access to top tiered and talented crew, have strongly outweighed any of the potential language barriers that may arise. Pour l’amour du country hires approximately 100 people, French, English and everything in between.

What’s the best thing about doing what you do – from Nova Scotia?

We’re getting the best of both worlds being here in the Halifax Regional Municipality, with it’s big city infrastructure and small city feel, access to world class crew, our creative partners PostMan Post-Production Studios and Current Productions… Oh yeah, and this is Canada’s Ocean Playground!

To learn more about the shows:

Trajectoires 4 and Pour l’amour du country are qualified to receive funding through the Nova Scotia Film & Television Production Incentive Fund. To learn more about filming in Nova Scotia and accessing the Nova Scotia Film & Television Production Incentive Fund please visit NSBI.ca/filmapplication

Use our Film Fund Estimator tool to estimate funding available for your Nova Scotia production.