What better device than a puppet to discuss the issue of bullying. That’s the daring concept behind the web series, Marc-en-peluche.
Bullying is undoubtedly a modern-day scourge. Talking about bullying, however, is one of the most effective weapons against it. The team at Blachfilms came up with an original idea for depicting bullying: what if a bully were suddenly to turn into a puppet? This idea gave rise to the web series, Marc-en-peluche, which is broadcast on Télé-Québec’s site.
“If you want to be a dark, goth-rock bully, it doesn’t help if your hair is orange and your skin, green,” opines Benoit Lach, scriptwriter, director, and producer. The character, Marc, is someone who is disliked and avoided in the hallways. But suddenly one day he goes from being a bully to being bullied, and we get to witness his downfall.”
During the scriptwriting phase of the series, the writers at Blachfilms strived to steer clear of preachiness. “We let youths, who are smart enough to decide, make up their minds,” says Vincent Lafortune, scriptwriter, producer and actor (he plays the part of the director in this production). “This helped to prompt discussion on a subject that is usually presented through a ‘governmental’ prism that youngsters don’t identify with.”
To which Benoit adds: “It’s easier to raise the issue because we do it through entertainment. We loved the concept because the puppet personifies vulnerability.”
“That’s what’s so great,” says Vincent. “We have a totally unreal character, but the authenticity of what he’s going through has a real impact on people.”
Using a puppet opened up plenty of narrative options. “A puppet has a fun side to it that allowed us to go further in the depiction of the violence he is subjected to,” he adds. “This ability to go further in the storytelling brought out a certain truthfulness that we wouldn’t have been able to achieve if we had cast a young actor to play that character.”
According to Vincent, the volume of traffic on the Télé-Québec site was very high and exceeded expectations. “This was the case both for the web and video on demand. We were pleased to see that our viewers immediately understood what we were doing.”
Season 2 will delve into a secret revealed at the end of the first season. “Marc’s transformation seemed like an act of God, but it turns out someone is pulling the strings,” states Benoit. “That’s what we explore in the new episodes.”
Benoit and Vincent believe that digital technology provides creative people with greater leeway. “It allows us to produce the series that we carry in our hearts and minds,” says Vincent. “It allows us to bring them to life more quickly than using traditional methods. This is an area where risk-taking is still encouraged, and I hope this remains true for a long time to come.”