Frequently, the most unexpected correspondences can lead us onto new paths. Xavier Dolan, the French-Canadian director of such films as Mommy, Laurence Anyways and Tom at the Farm, is exploring such a correspondence with his first English-language feature, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. It was also an unexpected chain of messages with Dolan that put Collider on a plane to London to view a few days of intense emotional scenes lensed by Dolan in the English countryside and London alleyways. I got a rare chance as a journalist to sit next to an Award-winning director as he directed Award-winning actors and view, firsthand, his level of precision in framing both the picture and the emotional reactions of Natalie Portman and Jacob Tremblay.
We’ll have much more about the production of the film, including a lengthy conversation with Dolan and members of the cast, in due time. But at this current moment we’re excited to debut the first images of scenes and behind-the-scenes pictures from the film and give some extra context to the characters that the actors are playing.
While the film boasts a starry ensemble, few share scenes together. This made it easier to get talent when they were needed, but it also has made for a lengthy production process in multiple locations, spanning a year and a half shoot. Yet, that process also allowed for Dolan to take breaks and edit the film in between the next shoot. The official synopsis for the film is as follows: A decade after the death of an American TV star, a young actor reminisces the written correspondence he once shared with the former, as well as the impact those letters had on both their lives.
A fan took a picture while Kit was filming a scene of The Death and Life of John F. Donovan in Montreal yesterday:
Quebec filmmaker Xavier Dolan, who have won the Grand prix at the Cannes Film Festival for his latest feature film It’s Only The End of the World – considered the second-highest honour of the festival – talks about his next project The Death and Life of John F. Donovan.
The director presented the film in Cannes a few days ago, you can find more info about it here
translation help please! and watch a short video of the presentation here. Our gallery was also updated with posters and pictures from that event. Filming begins this summer.
The Death and Life of John F. Donovan reportedly tells the story of American movie star, who begins a correspondence with an 11-year-old English actor that becomes public and begins to destroy his career and life due to the assumptions and insinuations of the Hollywood press. The film reportedly explores the hardships of fame and hurdles of the movie business through the lives of both actors and reflects on the issue of identity and diversity in Hollywood over the past decade.
You’re next film, The Death and Life of John F Donovan, will be both your first English-language film and the first shot in the U.S.. How is it coming along and what has the experience been like so far?
It’s all very exciting. We are in prep and start shooting in Montreal on July 9th for 40 days. Then, Prague and London in September and October, and New York for a split-second before Thanksgiving. So it’s mostly shot outside of the US. But it’s an American story, to be precise. So far, it’s been great, but we have a huge cast, not only in terms of notoriety, but in terms of the number of actors flying in and out of our set. It’s just very challenging to orchestrate all this, and still not make accommodating choices that compromise the film artistically or narratively speaking. But we’re doing good, I think. It’s been great with all the cast, and I’m excited about working with each of them.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
News from The Death and Life of John F. Donovan:
Fresh from their double triumph at the BAFTA TV awards, Warp Films has come aboard to co-produce major new feature film The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, with Jessica Chastain, Kit Harington, Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman and Kathy Bates among the stellar ensemble cast.
Lyla Films in Montreal has developed the project, which will be directed by Xavier Dolan, whose 2014 feature Mommy shared the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2014 and won the Cesar for Best Foreign Film in 2015.
The Canadian-born multi-hyphenate is calling the shots from his own screenplay, and will produce alongside Nancy Grant and Lyse Lafontaine. Two UK producers are on board for Warp; head over to Production Intelligence for details.
Filming is anticipated to be up and running in October, with a three-week stint in the UK. Montreal is also set as a main filming location.
We will report again on PI as UK HoDs board the project, so subscribers should make sure they’re following the project from 12 May.
Set in New York and the UK, the film centres on a young actor who years previously had struck up a pen-pal correspondence with his idol, a famous American TV star. Some ten years after the star’s death, the actor reflects on the relationship, set against a backdrop of the changing face of fame and the film industry.
Source: The Knowledge