Talent On Tap – Rick Dugdale & Enderby Ent. Deliver on The Intrigo Anthology

If I told you, the next time you travel to LA you just might run into one of the nicest Canadian film producers I’ve ever spoken to. Not only is he an outstanding Canadian, if they could bottle inspiration it would say Rick Dugdale on the label. He was born in Enderby, BC and is the CEO Enderby Entertainment. His career path has remained on a steady incline and as a producer he has worked with the who’s who of talent, including Ben Kingsley (Intrigo: Death of an Author, An Ordinary Man, Ghandi, Iron Man 3), Anthony Hopkins (Blackway, The Two Popes, Silence of the Lambs), Jamie Sives (Intrigo: Dear Agnes, Chernobyl, Valhalla Rising), Julia Stiles (Blackway, Jason Bourne), Ray Liotta (Blackway, Marriage Story, Goodfellas) and Alexander Ludwig (Recon, Vikings, Hunger Games), Phoebe Fox (Intrigo: The Woman in Black), Millie Brady (Intrigo: Samaria, The Last Kingdom) and Andrew Buchan (Intrigo: Samaria, All the Money in the World, Broadchurch) among many others.

Rick Dugdale is pleased to announce that Grindstone, a Lionsgate Company will be releasing the final two feature films from Enderby’s most ambitious project to date: The Intrigo Anthology. It’s based upon a series of European best-sellers by author Håkan Nesser.  The second Intrigo: Dear Agnes and the third, Intrigo: Samaria will be released on May 5, 2020, on all major platforms. Rick and I spoke in length about the anthology and I still can’t believe it is humanly possible to make three films back to back… but Rick was convince you it’s his new MO. 

I’ve had the great privilege of watching all three films and I couldn’t help but sense the spirit of Alfred Hitchcock adding his flavor to the mix. Dear Agnes is an intense thriller about good friends and evil deeds. With the death of her husband, Agnes (Carla Juri, Blade Runner 2049) is desperate for money until she runs into her old friend Henny (Gemma Chan, Captain Marvel), who is enraged at her unfaithful spouse, Peter (Jamie Sives, “Chernobyl“).  Henny makes Agnes a shocking offer—enough cash to live a better life if she will murder Peter—leading to an explosive, unforgettable climax. The other new release and final film from the trilogy is Samaria, it’s about secrets that won’t stay buried. Years after the murder of her college friend Vera, Paula is driven to make a documentary about the case and asks former professor Henry (Andrew Buchan, “Broadchurch“) to help. As the two draw closer to the shocking truth behind the slaying, Paula’s deceitful ways and Henry’s dark past explode into a dangerous, heart-stopping confrontation. 

These films are a tribute to great filmmaking and the cast is outstanding in every role. Rich characters throughout every story that are engaging and compelling. If you enjoy a tantalizing mystery that will keep you guessing and squirming till the end with anticipation, then I certainly suggest watching all three.

Rick Dugdale was extremely pleasant to talk to but don’t take my word for it, have a read for yourself:


“Hello Rick and thank you for another gracious opportunity to talk to you again about the Intrigo Anthology. These are crazy times in the film industry, how are you managing over there in LA?”

“It’s interesting times in our business but personally, we’re good and working from home. We’re in development, which is the only thing we can be doing but fortunately for us we have over 40 projects in pre-production, so we’re also busy. The entire team is working, there’s books we’re acquiring and scripts being adapted.”


“I suppose that’s the beauty of making films, there’s so much pre-production to be done before any shooting?”

“For the consumer watching a movie, the only thing we can’t do is be on the ground filming but you can be in development, you can be in pre-production to some degree (virtual prep) or you can be in post production; it’s those 25 days on the ground and shooting it that are the most difficult right now.”

“Given the current circumstances, where many businesses do not know when things will open back up, how does that effect trying to book locations and other parts of scheduling when we still don’t know when?”

“To answer your question, we’ve been hosting think tanks and we’re all living on zoom. I start at 4 am on a Monday and we go till 9 am with most of our calls being in Europe. We are trying to find the lay of the land and how we make a movie coming out of this. From a production, distribution and studio perspective, it’s one thing to come out of this but what format and what movies are we making? What will audiences be looking for? It’s escapism, it’s romantic comedies, it’s ‘80’s throwback comedies but when the lights come back on, how do you make a movie and cross boarders as frequently as we did on Intrigo (5 countries)? Every country is going to have their own rules and regulations on how to operate post pandemic. We’re suppose to be shooting the last Intrigo in September in South Africa, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia but we’re going to have to be cautious in crossing from the EU and into non EU countries. How is that going to impact us and what are our capabilities? We have another 6-part mini series that we’re suppose to shoot in Italy, France, Belgium, Lithuania and Serbia but can I take a cast from Italy into Germany? Can you cross borders with your Italian cast and crew into Germany because of how impacted Italy was? These are the things that will become the biggest International multi territorial production obstacles, first up anyways. In addition to that, a lot of the anticipation is in the next week to 10 days as we keep our finger on the pulse of these think tanks.” 


“What do you suppose films will look like after production reopens?”

“Canada is probably going to open before the US, so is Canada going to be the place you can shoot your movies sooner than shooting in the US, the answer is probably yes. You’re not going to shoot any Marvel movie out of the gate because that requires 300 people on a film set. The studios will find ways to compartmentalize and I’m sure they’re working it out. We’re looking at using a 50 or less crew, we’ve been talking about it now for a few weeks. We could make a movie like The Shining or Misery with a crew of 48 and 2 lead actors. Those are the types of films that we think will be the first out of the gate; can you get production insurance, can you get a completion block? These are all corporate aspects of, how do we get the film industry back up and running.”


“Is your company looking at downscaling your next project to meet those limitations?”

“Like a lot of production companies and studios, we’ve been sharing a lot of the information from different outlets globally and not just America or Canada. Our opinion is, the smaller the production, meaning 50 or less and assuming Canada and the US will go by a guideline recommendation from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and the WHO (World Health Organization). We have looked at projects we can downscale and still be quick and nimble and make it a commercial movie. At the end of the day you still have to make these films commercial otherwise you won’t find a distributor and you won’t get your film financed or made. We’re looking at a slate of films that are 50 or less. We’re working with the unions and guilds. On a global scale, it will require rethinking how films are made. There’s a lot of documentation that’s being circulated now as we all share information and we’re putting our own production guidelines into play. Craft service probably won’t look the same. There’s going to be crews of cleaners, an entirely new department that we’ve never had before. They’ll be cleaning and disinfecting while you shoot or in between setups. It’s all going to look different and a lot of it will be done virtually.” 

Rick added, “We have a film that we’re virtually scouting for now in BC and hopefully shooting in the Okanagan Valley. We also think that instead of 4 weeks of prep, we might prep two weeks virtually, meaning your crew is on zoom all day long and then you hit the ground for 2 weeks of hard prep before you start shooting.”


“I know that you have recently finished the third film from the Intrigo anthology but did you have other productions on the go when the pandemic hit?”

“We had two films that we were going into production with and we were suppose to fly to Utah the next day for scouting. Fortunately with Intrigo, we’d just finished delivery to Lionsgate in December but we still have 3 films to release this year, which includes the two Intrigo films and a WWII film called Recon coming out in November. With Intrigo, we had Dear Agnes coming out on May 5 and Samaria coming out in September but Lionsgate pulled back the release to May because everyone’s at home watching movies. It makes sense to release them closer together.”



“Once everyone does get the green light to begin productions again, do you already have a script in mind that will meet the new criteria?”

“We were actually fortunate enough to be working on a model like this prior to the crisis hitting, inspired by what we did on Intrigo. Intrigo was three films back to back to back and in multiple countries and prepping all at the same time, with the same filmmakers and with the same team. We’ve kind of done this before, so we’re looking at how to take a series of films like that and possibly shoot multiple films in BC that fall into that 50 or less category. 50 or less was a number we started bringing together a few weeks ago when we started anticipating what the CDC was going to say. These films were all smaller commercial thrillers that require two lead actors essentially. With that model already put in place it was easy to establish that it’s 50 people or less. All of these different protocols and guidelines that producers and studios will to have to work with; it’s better to test the new world with a 50 person crew than trying to do a bigger TV series or Marvel movie because those will be the biggest hurdles to overcome. There won’t be lunchrooms where everyone eats together, there might be staggered lunches or a stipend offered to those who bring their own lunch to set. How do you have the camera crew that close together and how do you have the actors on set without wearing masks?”


“How would you deal with the issue of background actors and extras?”

“One of the more fascinating theories behind that is a TV series shooting in Australia called Neighbours. Any scenes that require extras are being filled by the crew members that are already on set. I think that is genius because now you’re not introducing 30 new extras to come fill a café sequence, you have your somewhat vetted and healthy crew that you can put into wardrobe and into the scene.”       


“Have you ever asked the author Håken Nesser how the anthology series was inspired?”

“Death of an Author, Dear Agnes and Samaria were written over a coarse of 20 years. Daniel Alfredson and Birgitta Bongenhielm presented these three stories. Technically Samaria wasn’t a full book, it was a short story that they had presented to Håken that could fit under one umbrella called Intrigo. Håken Nesser intended these to be stand alone stories that were then put into one book and published as Intrigo. Dear Agnes and Death of an Author were also published separately.”


“Would you say that all of these films share a common theme?”

“Yes they do and it’s something that the screenwriters identified. It’s in a totally different world and I want to keep going back to Hitchcock because I just watched a Hitchcock film and it totally fits the brand. If you see the movie Rebecca that won an Academy Award, I believe it was in 1941, it could definitely be part of the Intrigo Anthology and part of Håken Nesser’s work. It has these characters that you just can’t trust cause there’s something their all hiding behind. You can see the Hitchcock’s writing in Håken and visa-versa, you can see Håken in Hitchcock; they’re very comparable. Dear Agnes and Samaria are even more Hitchcock than the first one.”     


“Is it difficult to secure financing to shoot 3 films back to back?”

“I can’t say it’s never been done before unless you’re Peter Jackson doing Lord of the Rings or you’re pitching Avatar; that’s a different animal because it’s a giant piece of IP and this wasn’t. This was a very complex business model to put together and it was not an easy deal to finalize. It took a lot of confidence and faith in our financial partners to believe what we were trying to achieve could be accomplished on time, on budget and with a very creative finance plan. One of the big selling points is the cost savings of putting them together and the other factor is, shooting them one by one would be a 6 or 7 year project and you might not get to films 2 and 3 because the deciding factors that are out of your control. There’s so many things that go into it that if we could present a model that could make people understand how and why we can do all three at once, then we can get them over the line. In the end, the distributor now has 3 films and we’re releasing fresh content into the marketplace for Lionsgate during a crisis/pandemic where everyone’s home watching movies. It certainly took a lot of convincing however.”



“Would you have been in that room when the idea was being pitched to the studio exec’s?”

“Absolutely, as a producer it was me who came up with the idea. Daniel Alfredson (writer, director), who’s also a partner of mine and could’ve been an accredited producer on these projects, first presented me with the scripts and we were trying to decide which one to shoot first. As we thought it through, I presented him the idea, a way to put them all together. At one point Agnes was actually going to shoot first but they jockeyed out of order very close to the production time. There were multiple layers and complexities of people and financial partners involved including government subsidies out of Belgium, Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia. A lot of it was in pieces to the point that our legal team thought we were crazy to try to do this. When we finally closed everything they were the first to congratulate us; it was extremely complicated.”


“Would you ever consider shooting three films back to back again?”

“Its funny you say that because I’m now convinced that it’s now, kind of my MO (modus operandi). Every time I look and assess a project I’m always looking at creative models. After we did Intrigo I came back to the US for a couple weeks and we went into production on a WWII film in Canada, called Recon, which is coming out Nov. 10. I’m very proud of that film and looking forward to releasing it. What’s interesting is, it was a simple business model to make the film. I realized then that we need to come up with more complex things to make it more exciting. We have a project that looks like it might be going forward and will shoot simultaneously in 3 countries initially but then we’ll possibly be adding 4 or 5 additional countries. With the anthology series, we’ll be shooting in up to 10 countries at the same time, which has never been done before. It’s really just logistics and personally I’m a logistics fan. It just takes the proper prep, the right communication and the right team to work with but we have to think outside the box making new films these days.”

Rick Dugdale adds, “By doing three at once and whether you rely on the first film to judge the success is one thing but by the time all three get released, people will be able to judge them as a whole. For the people that watch all three, there are Easter eggs throughout. You will find crossover characters and you will find elements that cross over between all three movies. These are stand-alone films and an anthology, but a trilogy. You can watch them one by one and once they’re all available to watch, I hope they’ll like the world we created. We’re currently pursuing film number 4 based on the book written while we were in production to go inside the Intrigo publication. That film will also have additional Easter eggs from the first three films. We’ve created a brand that we hope people can get behind.”


“You used the same director for all 3 films?” 

“Yes, Daniel Alfredson directed Blackway with Anthony Hopkins in the Okanagan Valley a few years back, which is where we met. He adapted these books with his writing partner Birgitta Bongenheilm and it’s another reason why we did the films back to back, so we could have the same director for all three. You tend to treat it like a 75 – day studio feature film. You prep all at once, you shoot 75 days straight and then you go to post and start cutting film 1.”    


“How far in advance would you have started casting for each of these films?”

“That was the trickiest part of the entire project. Samaria was going to go first and we had cast it and then we had to juggle the Dear Agnes schedule, which would impact the casting for Samaria. We’d lose an actor on Death of an Author if we moved that one too. It was a constant process of carefully planning the schedule around the actors as they became available to us. We were casting 6 months before we were shooting anything. In terms of supporting cast, we had a casting director working for us in London, who was amazing and works on Hamilton. I think we read over 900 people; there were so many parts to cast. The casting department didn’t know which film was going to go first as we jockeyed the lead actors schedules, so they had to be prepared for all the supporting actors all the time. When we were casting some of these smaller parts in Samaria, we were doing preliminary casting almost at the same time. We were casting 6 month’s out on these films and then doing a final casting weeks/days before. When we were in Serbia, the leads would fly out in advance while we were shooting the previous film to come meet with us. They’d then fly back to London and return closer to the shoot date. All of our casting came out of London.”


“Did each film take approximately the same amount of time to shoot?”

“Yes, we shot 25 days per picture. We took a two week break between films 1 and 2 and then took a two day break between films 2 and 3. We also switched countries during the few days off as well.”

Rick adds an Easter egg into this interview by informing me of a 35 minute documentary on ‘the making of Intrigo’ on the Enderby Entertainment Facebook page. It’s quite fascinating. 



“What was the biggest struggle in making back to back films?”

“The biggest struggle was probably forward thinking because we had no room for error. On film number 1, if there was any kind of delay, especially a financial problem, that’s going to impact film 2 and 3. We didn’t have the luxury of pushing the shoot if something had happened in film 1 or if we went over budget, it would impact 2 and 3. These films were all bundled into one financial ball, they weren’t compartmentalized; we had to be forward thinking. We were basically prepping film 3 as we were shooting film 1. Another obstacle was timing; for example, in the EU you couldn’t drive any truck weighing over 3 tons across any country borders between midnight Friday and 6 am Monday morning. When we were shooting in Belgium, we’d have to wrap early on Friday to get the trucks from the EU to Serbia before they shut the borders down. We were shooting on Monday and needed the trucks or we wouldn’t have equipment to shoot. Going from Serbia to Slovenia was the same thing because it’s in the EU. There was a lot of complications with the logistics of transporting the unit from Belgium to Serbia and back.” 


“When you were casting for Samaria, did you secure all the actors you were hoping for?”

“Anytime you make a movie or read a script, you try not to envision a certain actor in those parts. You want to let the casting aesthetics play out because if you have Phoebe Fox show up and deliver those lines, I can no longer think of anyone else playing that part. Phoebe may not be a household name but she falls into the category of Oscar winner in 10 years. I have a short list that I’m quite confident about. Phoebe is an amazing acclaimed West end actress in London. We were so lucky to get all of them because they take their acting so seriously and they’re classically trained. I don’t think Samaria would be the same with other actors in it.”


“When you walk into a Lionsgate office to ask for financing, does it help to already have your lead actors secured?”

“Sometimes it helps but it can vary on the overall IP, the presentation, best selling book, an accomplished director; it varies on each project. In this case we had Ben Kingsley in the first film, which certainly helped. They just wanted us to make good films with high production value and I think that’s what we did.” 


“Which film out of the anthology was the most fun to produce?”

“That’s a tough one to answer because they all run together. Death of an Author was the most adventurous because we worked in more countries than the others. We shot Death of an Author in Croatia, Slovenia, Belgium and Serbia. It was the first film in the slate and we had a massive crew of over 300 great people that really came together. Samaria was the finally film of the three, so it was a huge accomplishment. Millie Brady, Phoebe Fox and Andrew Buchan are some of the nicest human beings on the planet. To have them working on our last film and last day of production was pretty special; it also happened to be 44 degrees in Serbia at the time. Samaria was pretty special because we were able to look back and say, we pulled it off.”     


“If you had to shoot a hockey puck, a soccer ball or a basketball from the halfway line, which one would have the best chance of going in the net?”

“A hockey puck. I’m a Canadian and I play hockey three nights a week representing Canada in Los Angeles. Give me a stick and a puck.”     


I have tremendous admiration for Rick and his work ethic. An outstanding Canadian indeed.


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