Mars et Avril, a feature film written and directed by Martin Villeneuve, is now in preproduction. Filming will take place from March 30 to April 28 in Montréal and its surroundings.
The film, produced by Fake Studio with a budget of 1.25 million dollars, is financed through the programs of SODEC, Telefilm Canada, The Harold Greenberg Fund and Alliance Vivafilm. Marc Côté, President and Founder of Fake Studio and Camera-e-Motion Group, and Martin Villeneuve are producers. Almost entirely shot on green screen, this independent film has a significant amount of visual effects therefore providing a large potential to test innovative production techniques and explore hybridizing of genres.
Set in a futuristic environment, Mars et Avril tells the story of an elderly musician and his instrument maker who both become obsessed with the same woman. She agrees to be the model for their next musical instrument but then gets lost in a virtual world on the way to Mars.
Mars et Avril is inspired by two critically and popularly acclaimed prize winning (Grafika, Lux, Alcuin Society and Gutenberg) photo-novels published by Sid Lee (formerly the Diesel agency) and la Pastèque that were so successful that volume 1 was published a second time when volume 2, entitled À la poursuite du fantasme, was launched in 2006. Through these daring books, diametrically opposed to airport or romance novels, Martin Villeneuve renews with the photo-novel form and brings together literature, theater, comic strips and film into a subtle and delicious blend.
The majority of the actors who took part in both installments of the book are featured in the film, to the delight of moviegoers. Jacques Languirand, Paul Ahmarani and Robert Lepage respectively reprise the roles of Jacob, Arthur and Eugene. Marie-Josée Croze, who originally invested the character of Avril in the books, was unfortunately unavailable for the film project. The young Caroline Dhavernas has thus been entrusted with this role. The stellar cast of actors is complemented by Jean Marchand, Stéphane Demers and Jean Asselin, just to name a few.
An interesting fact to note is that, in order to work around Robert Lepage's extremely tight schedule (making him unavailable for shooting this spring); an avant-garde 3D capturing technique was used last September. This technique allowed the filmmaker to shoot scenes involving Lepage last fall, in order to integrate him into his scenes virtually during postproduction. A spectacularly coherent treatment for this exceptional artist, whose character in Mars et Avril fits so naturally between reality and virtual worlds.
To bring his first feature film alive, Martin Villeneuve has surrounded himself with a team of seasoned professionals. casting: Lucie Robitaille, artistic direction: Martin Tessier (Polytechnique), VFX supervision: Sylvain Théroux (Next Floor), costume design: Mariane Carter (La Cité des ombres), musical score: Julien Knafo (Y sont où nos bateaux ?), sound design: Olivier Calvert (Babine), assistant director: Christian Simard (Truffe), hair styling: Richard Hansen (Next Floor), make-up: Sophie Lebeau (Marie-Antoinette). Furthermore, Villeneuve benefits from the exceptional collaboration of Belgian illustrator François Schuiten (famous for his cult comic book series Les Cités obscures, published by Casterman), who is working on the film as production designer.
Also part of this experienced team are Benoit Beaulieu and Mathieu Demers, who are at their first experience working on a feature film. They will be involved as director of photography and editor, respectively.
Yanick Macdonald, who provided photography for the books, will continue to collaborate with Martin Villeneuve as photographer on Mars et Avril.
Mars et Avril features Jacques Languirand, Caroline Dhavernas, Paul Ahmarani and Robert Lepage. The film is written and directed by Martin Villeneuve, produced by Fake Studio and distributed by Alliance Vivafilm. No date has yet been set for its release.