There are good hockey movies. Of tennis. Race. Golf. Baseball. Of football. Of basketball. Even cricket.
But no swimming.
The director Pascal Plante does not understand. He himself is a former elite swimmer who has won medals at the national level. " I did some research. And for fiction, it's the desert. Zero. There is just none. Yet swimming is very cinematic. Water, movement, sound environments … "
So for his second feature, Pascal Plante was pleased. He wrote a film camped in the world of swimming. It is called Nadia Butterfly. Nadia, as the name of the main character, a swimmer who is facing retirement. Butterfly, for the butterfly swim style.
To make sure his scenario hit the road, the 30-year-old director asked for advice. Notably two Rio Games medalists, Sandrine Mainville and Katerine Savard. "I was paying them dinner, we were talking about the script. To the good franquette. The first supper with Katerine was cool. Second supper: still cool. I'm coming back home. I'm chatting with my producer. I said, "Heille, Nadia's character, maybe for Katerine, finally."
Producer's response: "Uh … no. "
Then the "no" became a "maybe".
"We watched all the traces of Katerine online. As is often the case with athletes, she had done a lot of interviews. We immediately saw that she was touching. "
Pascal Plante places his hand under his chin. "With Katerine, the emotion is still there. She has the gauge very high. A fragility that is fun for a director. "
The audition confirmed his intuition. Katerine Savard, the best Quebec swimmer in history, will play Nadia. A very rare double job for an athlete who is still competing.
I take my notepad and head to the other side of the Olympic Park pool. Katerine Savard prepares for a long filming night.
This is the first time we meet. What is striking is his energy. A tornado. She plays with her hair. Stretch his sweater. Squirms. I have not asked my first question yet that she already answers.
"I really like it here. It's fun. And me, it takes action. I am not able to have a monotonous life. "
At 26, her life is already busy. All swimmers envy his sporting achievements:
• bronze medalist at the Rio Games
• gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games
• Pan Am Games Gold Medalist
• gold medalist at the World University Games
In parallel, she has just completed her bachelor's degree in primary education. She gives lectures. She acts as spokesperson for good causes. And now, she enters the cinema by the big door. A first role in a feature film.
I have lived many things. More than a lot of people my age. I visited 50 countries. I climbed on the Olympic podium. I thought I would never get that adrenaline rush again. The high that sport provides. And here comes this project. It's just … wow. It's exciting.
The project is timely. Because like Nadia in the film, Katerine Savard is at a crossroads. Last year, she stopped swimming for a long period of time. She traveled for three months in Asia. She asked herself a lot of questions. Like the class firsts.
"I am very demanding of myself. It's normal. I think the best – no matter the field – are the ones who care most about perfection. Take the swimming. To win the last hundredths of a second, everything has to be perfect. It's the same thing on a set. Sometimes you have to start a scene again. And there, I do not find myself good. Even when it's not because of my game. I ask myself a lot of questions. Fortunately, Pascal reassures me a lot. "
When the film takes the bill next summer, there will inevitably be criticism. Positives, but also negative ones. She thinks that her sporting experience will help her better manage this situation.
"A few years ago, I was more fragile. More sensitive to what others said about me. Now, in the pool, I have nothing to prove. I have already won the medals. Nobody can take it away.
– Have you felt jealousy from other actresses?
– No. But in the middle of swimming, the movie is a lot of talk. There, I felt jealousy. It's normal. People have not seen anything yet, but they are commenting already. Probably when the movie comes out, people will say things we do not want to hear … "
I told you that Katerine Savard had put her sporting career on the back burner last year. Since then she has started swimming again.
It was the Carabins coach of the University of Montreal who approached her. "He offered to swim with the guys on his team. Without pressure. I loved. She resumed her taste for competition. Against all odds, she even qualified for the Pan American Games.
Except that it fell at the same time as the shooting of Nadia Butterfly. And everything had been reserved: the technicians, the equipment, the trays.
"Fortunately, Pascal (Plante) was very understanding. As a former swimmer, he knew what the Games meant to me. He arranged to postpone the two-week shoot. "
Katerine Savard was able to travel to Peru for the competition. She came back with three medals around her neck, a big, motivated smile like never before. Everything to please his director, who covers it with praise.
" You know what ? launches Pascal Plante. I'm going to make a pocket pun, but that's the same. On a tray, Katerine is like a fish in the water. "
See pictures of the shooting of Nadia Butterfly in our Arts and being section today.