A story about a clique. Six thrilling teenagers spend the winter in a cabin, near the mountain. But they are not alone. Behind the snowboards and ski boots stands a team who works hard to bring this series to the screen. Vicky Bounadère, producer at Productions Passez Go, unveils what brought Le Chalet to its peak.
The strength of a team
The Productions Passez Go team wished to launch the first teen television drama for the Vrak channel, as explained by the producer: “We noticed that Vrak had acquired American television series such as One Tree Hill and Gilmore Girls, so we thought about creating one which represents us, that takes place here, in the winter. The concept of the American drama works, however we really wanted to adapt it to our reality, to make it look like us.” With the help of script-writer Kadidja Haïdara, Vicky Bounadère and her team developed the story about a group of friends, six teenagers, all skiing and snowboarding instructors, in a series where friendship is the foundation of everything. Far from the inflated characters often seen in sitcoms, the producer says that Le Chalet was about an authentic story: “We wanted to tell a story with realistic characters, to whom the public could relate, but with an embellished everyday life, since they spend the winter on a mountain. We also wanted to present values close to teenagers and offer a positive image of what friendship is about at that age.”
In addition to Kadidja Haïdara, who developed the show’s bible and wrote the script for the first season, many script-writers contributed to the story throughout the seasons: “Each person who participates wants to tell a good story, which is believable and interesting. Everyone’s heart is set on the project,” says Vicky Bounadère.
Filming Le Chalet
Before even starting to develop a series like Le Chalet, Vicky Bounadère, Marie-Claude Blouin and Félix Tétreault, the company’s three associates, had to be persuasive. Le Chalet was the first television series Passez Go produced entirely on its own: “We had to convince the broadcaster that Passez Go was capable of producing this fiction without another producer’s help. It was a major challenge, but we insisted. We knew that we held a distinct and very special production,” says the producer. Indeed, in television production, it’s common for broadcasters to ask new producers to work with more experienced production firms to ensure that the project will be completed. However, this type of association can influence the final result, as expressed by Vicky Bounadère: “We are very involved in our projects. We don’t do many, but we are completely devoted to them. If we had worked with another producer, there would have necessarily been another vision added to the project, but we really wanted to do the series with our own style and values.”
Producer Vicky Bounadere
Even when the broadcaster was convinced, and the project was launched, the Passez Go team faced other challenges along the way. Shooting a series during the winter, with snow, means that filming is greatly influenced by the weather. The team must adapt, since shooting for Le Chalet is usually done in the fall, between October and December: “While shooting season 2, there was no snow at all! We sometimes had to use fake snow and change the camera angles. It didn’t work at first, but we managed to make it work! Such is the strength of a team. Even when there was a blackout and we had to work completely in the dark, every team member rolled up their sleeves. It’s this will to surpass oneself that makes this show unique and appealing.”
Le Chalet, which is in its fourth season in 2018, is a real phenomenon that became greater throughout the years, way beyond the awards it won. Like the series’ characters who get together between downhill runs, families get together to watch the series: “Teenagers, like their parents, really enjoy watching Le Chalet together. The testimonies show that the public loves this series,” explains the proud producer. Moreover, even if Le Chalet’s purpose is to entertain, the issues addressed can make the young public think and have a positive impact on them. “There are no taboos. We address human issues, which we must all face in our lives, such as friendship, love, grief, betrayal, separation, failure, sickness, anxiety… All that with snowy mountain in the background! Many teens write to tell us that they were touched by what our characters go through, or that it gave them the courage to act in their own life. It’s very rewarding,” says a visibly-moved Vicky Bounadère.
In every aspect of this project, both in front and behind the screen, one element remains present: the importance of the group. Whether it’s the loyalty between the characters in the series, or the members of the production team who work in a brotherly spirit, or the public that gathers with family and friends to follow this story, Le Chalet seems to bring a sense of companionship to everyone tied to it. Vicky Bounadère sums it up perfectly: “It simply is a beautiful human experience.”
Reviewing the screenplay