Yvonne Lewis Langlois
Ormstown is abuzz with activity. The drone of circular saws and the punch of pneumatic hammers mix with directive shouts and conversation. Huge towering wooden sets are assembled on the main street, as Ormstown is transformed into the ill-fated town of Lac-Mégantic for a film shoot.
An eight-hour miniseries inspired by the Lac-Mégantic disaster story begins filming on Sunday, September 19. To refresh your memory: on July 6, 2013, an unattended 73-car freight train carrying Bakken formation crude oil rolled from the town of Nantes in the Eastern Townships into the town of Lac-Mégantic, where it derailed, igniting multiple explosions. Flames reaching up to 200 feet consumed half of the downtown area, killing 47 people. The train company, Montreal Maine Atlantic Railway, later filed for bankruptcy, leaving the train engineer and his two colleagues to face charges of criminal negligence.
The miniseries, written by Sylvain Guy, is purely fictional but based on the actual disaster. Filming is scheduled to begin on Sunday, September 19 and will continue through Friday. The entire downtown core of Ormstown, from the church onward, will be closed daily during that week, mostly for night filming from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Ormstown post office boxes will not be accessible on Wednesday, September 22 from 5 to 10 p.m.
Producer Antonello Cozzolino describes the actors as “an ensemble cast” with no big-name actors included. Alexis Durand-Brault will direct the miniseries and his wife, Sophia Lorain, will co-produce.
A main street transformed
Ratté’s store is becoming the Lac-Mégantic village library, while other local businesses will appear as a Christmas store, a gift store, a bar, and a hotel. The railway line will be set up at the intersection of Lambton and Moulin Streets.
For the most part, Ormstown businesses inconvenienced by the closures seem to be taking it all in stride. “It’s all good,” says Mary Sullivan of Serenplicity. All will be compensated for lost business, and Cozzolino promises that they will leave the town as they found it. “Sometimes when we paint, people like the revamp job so they like to keep it that way,” he laughs.
No explosions will take place in Ormstown. Seven oil tanker cars will be transported from western Canada to the snow yards in Longueuil to reenact a fiery disaster.
The miniseries will air on Club Illico in 2022.