Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mohammed came to the mountain

There's a proverb used in Hungarian (I don't know if it exists in other languages) saying "If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain." 
In my case it would say: "If Magdi can't go to Canada, Canada will come to her." :)

With Kevin Sullivan

In this case Canada is KEVIN SULLIVAN, the screenplay writer, director, producer Kevin Sullivan. 

Some weeks ago, Zsolt- a friend of mine announced, that Mr.  Sullivan would come to Hungary and we could meet him. Of  course I wanted to! :) And I was not alone.  
Zsolt and me in November 2008

We were waiting quite long till he came, but he came! :) We met  him yesterday in a culture house in the downtown of Budapest  and we were amazed by his stories... stories about his life and work, about actors and actresses and his personal memories.
I can truly tell, meeting him was a fulfilled dream.

And now some stories he shared with us:

Paying attention
In the 80s when he filmed the Anne-movies began his  “relationship” with Disney and  CBC. One of his friends advised  him to film a TV show after the huge success of Anne. The final  poke was from Colleen Dewhurst and she also told Mr. Sullivan,  that she wanted to  end her career with a TV show. It wasn’t worth  to build the show  around a main character so Dewhurst told him  to build it around a  whole ensemble. Ideas, style, feelings and  names were taken from Montgomery’s books except from Hetty  King. The pattern was taken  from ‘The story girl’.

The actors were very important but in the last moment there was a change. For the role of Gus Pike was Jaimz Woolvett chosen, but he was also casted in the Clint Eastwood – movie ‘Unforgiven’ and it won 4 Oscars. Then he found Michael Mahonen on a casting.
Btw: Jaimz Woolvett played on RTA some years later: he was playing the role of Booth Elliot, Sara's love interest in "Enter Prince Charming" & "The Minister's Wife".  

The shooting took long because many scenes were shot on external locations and the internal recordings were filmed in Toronto. They also built a little town but the houses were empty.

Only the house of Jasper Dale was different. From the one side it was Jasper’s house and from the other it was the cannery.

Because of the external locations they could show the change of the seasons, that’s why there are winter scenes.

The show was charmed and had a magical existence. They established a dreamworld on screen and the community was very important. All these elements helped them to make this show so popular.

As he filmed ‘Anne’ he found a beautiful landscape which he could use to ‘Road to Avonlea’ too. In his little town the roads were colored with brick-powder, because the soil on P.E.I. is red. 

There are many strong women and also many opposite characters in the show to have bigger drama.

Jackie Burroughs (Hetty King) is a wonderful actress, but she always chipped in everything, so she was the one who everybody loved to hate. Her role got bigger and bigger (she had love interests and became a writer…) and as a resume of the show she could give the toast on Felicity’s & Gus’ wedding on the very last show. By the way it was written by Kevin Sullivan.

I think her first appearance was only one sentence in ‘The Materializing of Duncan McTavish’ (season 1 episode 4)
Jackie Burroughs thought if she had had a bigger hairstyle her character would have become more important. After a while Kevin Sullivan told her, that she was too beautiful with this hairstyle and it didn’t fit her character, so she should have a little hairstyle… (The answer was “Fine!”)

She was very discontent with one of the directors and she called Kevin Sullivan – he had to come there immediately. Kevin told her, he had to stay in the office and do other things, but she was on field so she had to do what the director said.

He also shared a family story with us. He was about 30 when his grandpa died and he inherited all his family videos his grandpa recorded in the 20-30-40-50s. For Kevin it was a special experience and memory and he realized that people love Avonlea because it preserves the time.

He was inspired by these videos to film ‘Wind at my back’, which plays at the time of the slump in the 20-30s. 

We also watched the intro of it and he showed some stills he found in old family videos recorded by his grandfather. 

After that he showed some scenes from the 4th and 5th season of ‘Road to Avonlea’ for example ‘Home movie’ where Jasper Dale wanted to preserve the time and the costumes for his son Monty and ‘Memento mori’ where Hetty King remembered her childhood. He said this episode was the peak because it hit the visceral and emotional level. This episode shows at most that Hetty became the mouthpiece in the show for example when she said “Measure your life not by what you do but how you feel.” – Actually I thought she said that, but it was her mother. Now I don’t know why I wrote this!

In the episode (‘After the honeymoon’ 3/36) Olivia was jealous. There was a naturalist, Sidney Carver, who is the female version of Jasper. They work with a vampire spectrum. Olivia wants to support Jasper, but she can’t really help him. 

Although this episode was filmed in the studio, they used real bats. One of them sticked to the actress’ (Mag Ruffman) face, but she didn’t get frightened and she kept on saying her lines.  

He said we can ask our questions if we have some… we had! :-)

So we asked why Gus Pike had to become blind. It’s only the fact, that after a while it’s difficult to do up more stories, so this was the newest idea. 
Spelling my name was...

Why did they change Cecily? Harmony Camp was cute but she   couldn’t act. 

When the children are auditioned you cannot know if they become good actors or actresses. In addition these kids have to grow up before the cameras and this is a high level of abnormal  life. For example Sarah Polley (Sara Stanley) and Zachary  Bennett (Felix King) are great and could act before, beside and  after ‘Road to Avonlea’.

... successful
Sarah Polley – whose mother was Dianne Polley and father a British man – could speak Cockney. There was these episodes ‘When she was bad she was horrid’ in them she had to play Sara and Jo Pitts at the same time. Jo spoke Cockney. That was new for us, because in Hungarian although we have accents you always can understand an other Hungarian. So the voice actor played only with her voice: it was lower and she tried to sound more like the village people. But there wasn’t so big difference then in English. 
He also told about her, that at the beginning of the show her mother died and she had bad eating habits, she was alone and everybody on the set felt he was responsible for her, so they tried to help her they cared for her and when she turned 16 she was fed up with that and she left the show. 

She also had scoliosis so every dress had to be sewed for her. 

We also asked if there are any deleted scenes and bloopers. Of course there are! His project is to make new DVDs (I think in HD, but I’m not sure in the English word) and they want to put some on them. Till now (or till last June) they were only on videotapes. So it’s a bigger project. But there aren’t any Hungarian DVDs yet so we asked him to put some scenes on the Hungarian version too! :-)

I think it’s almost everything that we covered. I tried to take notes and I was the last person who asked something but I really don’t remember on more things.. not what I asked…:-(
Asking that last question


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