Collectif interview: Patrice Sauvé, director of Victor Lessard

Since May 15, Victor Lessard fans have been devouring the Major Crimes detective’s latest investigation on Club illico. Following up on the huge success of season 1 last year, carried by masterful performances from Patrice Robitaille and Julie Le Breton, director Patrice Sauvé is back with another instalment. We asked him 14 questions about Victor Lessard’s new case, Violence à l’origine, ranging from the difficulty of adapting the book to the importance of the Montréal location to the series.

What’s it like to start filming the second season of a series? Is there more freedom?
More freedom, yes, but also many new challenges, because you want to make it even better than season 1.

How is season 2 different from season 1?
A new case means introducing new characters, a new world, a different tone and energy from the first season.

Binge watch season 2 of Victor Lessard, Violence à l’origine, on Club illico.
Episode 1 is free!

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Is it liberating or limiting to bring a character as well known as Victor Lessard to the screen, a character who’s so familiar to the audience and inhabits such a well-established fictional world? Do you try to distance yourself from the character of the novel or do you try to be faithful to the book?
It’s both a privilege and a responsibility to adapt such a beloved character. The advantage is I can adapt the character and take the best parts for TV. I have to be faithful not to the novel but to the script.

What’s your relationship like with Martin Michaud, who wrote the Victor Lessard novels and is also the screenwriter for the series?
I think we have immense mutual respect. We were both determined to make the best TV series possible. We had a strong working relationship.

The urban landscape features prominently in this season’s case. How did you make Montréal a character in its own right in the series?
I tried to make sure all our locations would have an impact on viewers and I wanted to spotlight the city’s enormous architectural and social diversity. I also wanted to celebrate Montréal and capitalize on its unique landmarks, like Mount Royal or the silos in the Old Port, just as shows set in New York, Los Angeles or Paris do.

What movies or TV shows did you draw on for season 2?
I get my inspiration from a variety of sources. For this season, I watched Silence of the Lambs again and looked at works by the 17th century Spanish painter Diego Velázquez.

What is your favourite police drama of all time?
Probably one of the first police procedurals ever made, Hill Street Blues. I watched it with my dad.

What are your three best memories from the set?
The high points this season were:
1) A scene of friendship between Victor and Jacinthe in the first episode. Our actors, Patrice Robitaille and Julie Le Breton, were magical. It brought a tear to my eye as I watched it on the monitor;
2) The performances by Benoit McGinnis and Gilles Renaud just took my breath away;
3) The striking image of a girl imprisoned in a glass cage, which I found very moving.

What is your worst memory of this season’s shoot?
The cold, definitely the cold! We filmed throughout the fall. Long hours filming in Montréal in December in the silos at the Old Port, you feel it in your bones!

Is there another project you’d like to direct?
Martin Michaud’s next novel! 🙂

Did knowing that the season would be released in one shot on Club illico change your directorial approach?
Somewhat, yes. I had to make sure each episode had elements that would keep you on the edge of your seat and make you want to watch the next episode.

On what device do you like to watch films or TV shows?
I’m fortunate to have a really good TV set at home; there’s nothing better for watching my own work or that of others.

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
Unfortunately, it’s too early for me to talk about what I’m doing next.

What can we wish you for the future?
Good scripts, good actors, good production budgets and the chance to keep on doing what I love.

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