TVO's first commissioned drama series, Hard Rock Medical, provides a fresh and entertaining look at the unique challenges of delivering healthcare in Northern Ontario. Hard Rock Medical follows the lives of eight medical students, their struggles to succeed, and the obstacles they face in adapting to practising rural medicine and living in the North. Patrick McKenna heads a Canadian ensemble cast in this series airingSundays at 8 p.m., from June 9 to August 25 and at hardrockmedical.com.
The views expressed in TVO's Hard Rock Medical blog series are solely the opinion of the cast and filmmakers.
The Doctor from Chicoutimi
Having worked with Derek Diorio for the past five years on two different TV series, I can say that I wasn't totally unfamiliar with the concept of Hard Rock Medical. I knew a little bit about the basic premise of the show because once in a while Derek would bring it up in conversation. He seemed to have a lot of passion for the project and Hard Rock Medical certainly sounded like a very exciting one. So when Derek first approached me to audition for the role of Dr. Raymond Dallaire he said "this one is a bit of a doozy; you'll need to learn a seven page monologue that includes hard to pronounce medical jargon. I also want you to speak the way you speak normally...with your French Canadian accent because Dallaire is originally from Chicoutimi, Quebec." I said "Sure no problem, I'm glad you're considering me for the part," but then thought to myself "Wow! A seven page monologue that sounds like fun...NOT!"
I went home, read the script and immediately fell in love with the character. The monologue had to do with a lecture given by Dallaire on how our dependence on pharmaceutical drugs is spinning out of control. One needs to take a pill for a minor ailment, but in order to counteract the undesirable side effects and the gradual resistance to the medication, one needs to introduce another pill with more side effects and so on, creating a vicious cycle resulting in the patient ending up in intensive care. Dallaire's unapologetic and offbeat approach to teaching medicine was obvious in the writing. His desire to swim against the tide, not to be a rebel but simply because it's the right thing to do, instantly appealed to me. And as far as acting goes, I believe that characters with strong convictions are always the most interesting to embody. In the end, the monologue didn't make it to air but I ended up getting the part.
After script readings and discussions with newly met cast members and writers, it became clear to me that for Dallaire, what was crucial about teaching a generalist style of medicine in Ontario's north was the unwavering commitment to the patient. Like he said in episode two, "knowing biochemistry, genetics and physiology is certainly an important part of med school, but the caring part is what really matters the most."
Shooting Hard Rock Medical turned out to be a blast! I was reunited with the same awesome Sudbury film crew that I got to know so well during the last five years. From production manager to set designer, from grip to make-up artist, most of them were working together again on this project. What a difference it makes on a set when you're surrounded with familiar faces. It creates an intimate environment allowing you to feel way more at ease and ultimately more efficient and productive. As an added bonus this Sudbury crew is perfectly bilingual, which makes the doctor from Chicoutimi feel right at home.