Even though they still love each other, Laurence and Fred decide to break up before things go bad, but still plan to raise their child together. They call on a bizarre company, specialised in break-ups, to facilitate the process and prevent them from changing their minds.

The Rule of Three (CAN) producer Joannie Langevin and director Sébastien Gagné spoke to Melbourne Webfest to share how the fine details, changes in tone and music play key parts in creating moments that can throw audiences into the shoes of the characters they are viewing.

What inspired your series?

Michaël Gouin and Léane Labrèche-Dor, the creators of La règle de 3, had the will to talk about love relationships of our time, where commitment isn’t valued anymore.

How long have you been working on your series?

The screenwriters, Michaël Gouin and Léane Labrèche-Dor started to develop the idea at the end of 2016, and the series launched in March 2019.

How did you use music in your story telling?

Music was very important to set the tone. We wanted to start off very romantic, almost too romantic and perfect, and then make a 180-degree-turn by switching the tone of the music completely. Making it sort of operatic to steer the piece in a completely different direction, putting the viewer in a strange, uneasy place. Sometimes it even contributed to making it more funny in a sense, because the music and the situation became so big!

The Rule of Three Trailer

What was your greatest challenge while creating the series?

Again, the balance of tone. We wanted to make it strange and fun, but also believable and relatable. We started off very romantic, then it had to switch to a very dramatic, sort of deadpan tone. The switch between the two was not always easy to achieve. Every directing decision, every cut was aiming to strike that delicate balance. We had to cut a scene — a very funny one — that took place early because it broke that delicate balance.

The onscreen chemistry worked perfectly between the characters of Laurence and Fred, what was the casting process like?

Well, they wrote the piece and are life partners, so we guess that helps! But Sébastien Gagné, the director, tried to direct them in order to get a very nuanced and rich performance. Michaël Gouin (Laurence), Léane Labrèche-Dor (Fred) and Sébastien have collaborated numerous times in the past and have great trust in each other. They have a very open working relationship, they’re not afraid to try things out and tell each other when something doesn’t work. We think that shows in the final product.

How do you go about translating hilariously awkward scenes (like the one in the gynecologist’s office, episode one) from script to the camera?

It’s all about point of view and not overdoing it performance-wise. The director chose to shoot that scene through Laurence’s point of view, who’s sort of the odd man out. We put the camera in a place where it would show how he feels; trapped and uncomfortable. The 4:3 frame also contributed a great deal to express that feeling. It made for a very tight, stuffed and controlled frame, perfect to show Laurence’s feelings. Then, performance-wise, it’s underplayed. You can see the character thinking and the desperation in his eyes. We find that very funny… Then, finding the cinema in it, in the rhythm and the cutting. Sometimes staying a little too long on someone makes it hilarious!

What is the future for your series?

The story of Laurence and Fred will stay in a unique season, and we hope the series will continue to be viewed in many festivals around the world!