They say, “Write what you know.” That’s exactly what Julian Doucet did.
The writer and producer for shows like Killjoys and Hudson & Rex turned to his own life for The Lake, available now on Prime Video. Starring Jordan Gavaris (Orphan Black), Madison Shamoun and Julia Stiles, The Lake tells the story of Justin (Gavaris) a man who has returned from living overseas after breaking up with his long-term partner. Hoping to reconnect with the biological daughter he gave up for adoption in his teens, he and Billie (Shamoun) head to cottage country for time on the lake from Justin’s youth.
We spoke to Julian Doucet, while he was attending the Banff World Media Festival, about bringing the story to life.
There’s the saying, ‘Write what you know.’ And in this case, that truly was the case for you with The Lake. Was it easy to write down these ideas and create these characters?
Julian Doucet: Yeah, weirdly, it was. What was not easy is the 22 years prior to doing it. When people heard about my situation, they are always like, ‘You should write about it, you should write about it.’ But I didn’t 100 per cent feel that it was my story to tell because there’s also my daughter, her birth mother and her parents. It took a long time to get to a place where I thought, ‘Yes, write what you know, but also maybe not exploit it or pimp it out.’
I don’t know why this felt like the time, it sort of felt right. We had been taking vacations together since she was 16 and it was just something about that dynamic, which I had never seen before on television. And, somehow, when I started to write them, it was so easy once it was on the page, I couldn’t put the genie back in the bottle.
It was so easy to like these characters and the dialogue is so natural. Is it difficult to write dialogue? Is it partly the writing, and the performers that are making it so natural and relatable?
JD: I think it’s a combination of all. I started as an actor, so very much dialogue for me is rhythm, it’s music. I do feel like every character has their own rhythm, and then every actor has their own rhythm. When you get one actor that lines up with the rhythm of your character or how they’re going to transform it, that is gold. And with both Madison and Jordan and really our whole cast just kind of seamlessly fused with the flavour, the rhythms of each of the characters.
[Writing dialogue] is my favourite thing because it’s like a catchy tune and I do feel like we always try to find the words that get us there the most efficiently. I do think it’s probably not easy, but for me, it is the thing that I love.
Jordan did have funny moments on Orphan Black, but he’s so good with his physical comedy and body movement. What’s it been like working with him on The Lake?
JD: Amazing. Jordan just killed it, and we share weird chemistry. We kind of wonder, are we the same person, just separated by 12 years? We have most of the same anxieties. We both order the same coffee. We both collect weird plaid blankets without knowing. It’s just bananas, and we feel like we can’t spend too much time in the same place because the universe might collapse as we could be from the same person from different dimensions. He just knows the character and understands not only the huge need that Justin has but also the anxiety, the heart and the resilience that Justin has.
You are the showrunner, creator, writer and executive producer of The Lake. What’s your favourite hat to wear? What’s it been like show running your own program?
JD: I loved the writing. The writer’s room as always, that’s my happy place. Just creating, problem-solving, how imaginative and resilient writers are. They just astonish me every time. But I loved putting together the music. I loved the costumes, the look. I love production, putting together that world, anything that’s creating the sandbox.
The Lake is available for streaming on Prime Video now.
Images courtesy of Prime Video.