The pleasure of writing together
This week, we will see the 1000th text written by the duo Sylvie Lussier and Pierre Poirier. A thousand programs which, since their beginnings more than 30 years ago, have seen the light of day on our airwaves. A pleasure that developed as soon as we chose them to lead the stupid not stupid, when they had to write their sketches and their presentations, and which led them to offer us 4 and a half, The tumultuous adventures of Jack Carter, The Black Dog Inn then 5th rank.
What is the key to writing together?
Pierre Poirier: We talk a lot. Two days before getting in front of the screen, we talk about plots, what the characters are going to experience. Then Sylvie goes to the keyboard and we relaunch, we give each other replies.
Sylvie Lussier: I think our imaginations fit together well. We come from the same background, we have read the same books, seen the same films. We have common references. Everything is done quite easily.
Your first series of fiction, 4 and a half, took place in a universe that you knew well (a veterinary clinic). You studied there. Then there were 15 years of The Inn. TV has come a long way. What impact does that have on your writing?
SL: Our classes, we did them with youth programs. It was a wonderful school.
PP: With 4 and a half, we played safe. There was less research to do! It is certain that television has changed. Writing too. We are able to provide 24-26 hours of TV per year. We have a lot of imagination. But since Radio-Canada no longer produces in-house, the ways of doing things have changed.
SL: It’s harder to write for TV. With 5th rank, we did not make it easy. We started with a couple (4 and a half), then the staff of an inn (The Black Dog Inn) and there we give life to a whole village. We have to juggle all these fates and never lose the thread of the investigation.
5th rank was the first series to resume filming after confinement. In the current situation of the fifth wave, do you always have to be on the alert to adapt the texts to health measures?
SL: The pandemic is hitting us like everyone else. We have to work hard to keep our Zen bubble. There was no deep rewrite. But the cheapest thing to change is always the text.
PP: There is no text where the characters kiss. During the first wave, we had six texts to edit. Since then, we have been cautious.
SL: We have a lot of exterior stages, which helps us. The entire production team does an exceptional job to ensure that everything is safe. Creatively, we are not bullied, but we have to adapt. So many artists have lost engagements with the pandemic. We do everything we can to keep the machine running.
Tuesday, you will make a cameo to underline this 1000th text. Was it your idea?
PP: It is customary to underline round numbers. We appeared in the 100th of 4 and a half. In the last one too, with our children. They are still mad at us! In the 150th of The Inn—.
SL: This time, it’s also for the pleasure of being on set with the whole team. We have always had the habit of making brainstorm with the actors, but the pandemic has prevented us from doing it for two years. It was an opportunity to see everyone.
The detective genre is very popular and 5th rank is imbued with it. What awaits the Goulet family?
SL: Francine and Alain are going to be quite entertaining. It’s going to go as far as the attempted murder in their tropical villa.
PP: A tropical villa shot in Longueuil!
SL: A tax haven. Francine will not accept that Alain wants to put the murder (bones were found in a barn wall at Charles’s) on Guy’s back. We are still looking for who put the bomb in Tina’s house and Marie-Jeanne will want revenge because she lost her baby there. It is a family saga with human relations. The Goulet clan is tightly knit. And there is a darker detective side that fills everything we like to write.
► 5th rank is presented on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ICI Télé