The latest from North Okanagan-born movie producer Rick Dugdale will be hitting theatres Friday, marking the completion of his most ambitious and innovative project to date.
Dugdale, president and CEO of Enderby Entertainment, has wrapped up production of the Intrigo Anthology — a trio of films based on a series of bestselling books by Swedish writer Hakan Nesser. The movie is directed by Daniel Alfredson, who has directed award-winning films including the Girl Who Played With Fire, and Enderby Entertainment’s Blackway starring Anthony Hopkins.
The three films were shot back-to-back. The first in the series, Intrigo: Death of an Author, stars Sir Ben Kingsley and is set to be released Jan. 17 in selected theatres and On Demand.
Sir Ben Kingsley is known for roles in Shutter Island, Iron Man 3, Lucky Number Slevin, Species and more.
Dugdale describes the film as “a bit of escapism” — a murder mystery with traces of Alfred Hitchcock in its plot-twisting, mind-bending storylines.
“Hakan Nesser is known as the Steven King of Scandinavia,” Dugdale said. “The way he writes is so character rich that we knew if we adapted the book fairly close to his writing we could have characters that actors would want to portray.”
Dugdale lives in Los Angeles but was raised in Enderby before making it big-time. Making it in the industry has required Dugdale to be an innovator and Intrigo is the best example to date of his resourcefulness when it comes to movie production.
“We felt that if we came up with a business model that would allow for all three films to be shot back to back to back with a good economic plan, we could just go for it out of the gate — therefore bringing more value (to) a distributor.” Shooting three films consecutively is not something that is typically attempted in the industry, but it allowed Dugdale to cut costs in certain areas and put more money towards the on-screen product.
“You start to get a lot of volume discounts,” he said. “Because now I need camera packages for nine months instead of six weeks.”
“It’s never really been done in this format,” Dugdale added. “I mean sure, you can shoot Avatar 2-4 when you have $1.5 billion to work with. We didn’t quite have that.”
For Dugdale — a man who carved himself a path from Enderby to Hollywood — finding creative ways to make ambitious movies is an ongoing pursuit.
“I always joke that I’m the guy who takes the short film and makes it a feature film,” he said. “I also like to say we’re in the business of making movies and not talking about making movies.
“It definitely requires outside-the-box thinking of how to execute, and there’s always a way to get things done.”
Shooting the films consecutively was a hard sell. The movies were filmed in Belgium and throughout the Balkans, but because each film has a different lead actor, block shooting wasn’t an option. That meant moving the entire company of 330 people back and forth between Serbia and Belgium multiple times.
“Everybody thought I was crazy and it took so much convincing that we were halfway through production and finally people started going ‘wow, he’s actually going to pull this off,’” Dugdale recalled.
Having overcome the challenges of producing Intrigo in this way, Dugdale can imagine others following his lead.
“A year from now, we might be talking about a whole new business model in this industry.”
The second movie in the trilogy, called Dear Agnes, has a release date set for May. The third, Samaria, is billed for September.
“There is a fourth film coming as well that we plan to shoot next year,” Dugdale said.
Dugdale and Kingsley have worked together in the past. Prior to shooting the Intrigo trilogy, Dugdale produced the psychological thriller An Ordinary Man in collaboration with Kingsley, who played the roles of actor and producer.
From the moment Dugdale had the Intrigo scripts, he knew he wanted to have Kingsley play another lead role for him.
Intrigo isn’t the only project that’s been keeping Dugdale busy. Most recently he completed post-production on Peace, a thriller starring Alexander Ludwig, Sam Keeley and Franco Nero that’s set in the Italian mountainside at the close of the Second World War.
Spoiler alert: the mountains aren’t Italian; Peace was shot in the areas around Enderby and Vernon.
Peace will be released towards the end of 2020.