Posts Tagged ‘bruce mcdonald’

INTERVIEW: Bruce McDonald (part 2!)

Posted on August 13, 2008 by

Yipes, Hard Core Logo Night this Thursday. FYI, we have a block of tickets on reserve for our friends & loyal JBdotcom readers (which in some cases are one in the same). And here’s more from our boy Bruce who will be valiantly darting between Pontypool pick-ups and HCL funtown the night of. Because he is a superhero. Who hangs out with Oscar the grouch.

Ahoy:

So were you a punk growing up? Were you involved in the scene at all?
Well, I grew up in Rexdale, outer reaches of the city, so I was never at the Crash ‘n’ Burn. I graduated high school in ’78 so I have fond memories of my friend coming back from England with a bunch of singles, the Pistols and stuff, and just thinking it was the greatest thing ever. We loved Stiff Little Fingers and Blondie and the Ramones. Those records were really big defining, sonic things. But in terms of punk lifestyle, I looked more like a hippie. Long hair, army jacket, more the Niel Young fashion that came out of that tail end of the ‘70s. My fashion was in 1972 but my head was in ’77. It wasn’t until much later that I really got into it, when I started doing music videos for Hugh and the Headstones and really getting to know a bunch of musicians in the city. We had a garage band that was half a band, but nothing that serious.

Wait, what was your garage band called?

Mother Napkin (laughs). We would just do covers, play parties and suburban basements. Just a fun way to channel our heroes.

One of the really enduring things about the movie — and one of the reasons we’re doing this night -– is that the songs are so perfect. And given that all that came out of the book were the lyrics, how did those come together?
Initially when we wrote the script we didn’t intend to have much music in the film at all, because all these fucking rock movies, the music is always so lame. So when Noel and I wrote the script it was designed so that you’d hear the first few chords and then — boom — it was more about between gigs. Then Peter Moore, a local producer, had a good relationship with the band Swamp Baby. So basically it was Peter and the band. I would just drop by every once in a while to have some scotch or listen to the tracks. Then Hugh came in and replaced the vocals. The singer of Swamp Baby was hoping we’d at least have one track that we’d hear his voice on but sadly he was completely replaced. Still, the cover of Sonic Reducer I fucking love. I looked up the original recently and thought that our version was way better. We did a tribute album on BMG at one point with a bunch of bands covering the songs. It’s Turner’s words and Peter’s guidance. I’ll see if I can bring Peter down to the Revue on the 14th, bring some of the posse down. Because he did a great job on it, spent a lot of time.

Like the dude in the Vader suit.

Yeah exactly. So it’ll be pretty exciting to have some bands coming at some of these songs at the Revue.

What was the process or challenge of turning a book that’s not really straight narrative story into a movie?
I’m basically a very lazy guy who seeks out things that I think’ll be easy. When I read the book I was sort of like, “Wow, I like this whole thing about bands… and music,” and, you know, there didn’t seem to be that many pages in the book and not a lot of stuff to figure out. Easy. They go from here to here to there, stuff happens, how complicated could it be? But Noel brought a lot to the table in the adaptation, just in terms of setting up themes and linking things. So the process lasted about a year. It wasn’t laborious or painful, but it was hard work. Sometimes it’s quite a trap to be slaves to the source material because it can never become it’s own thing. But Noel was forwardthinking enough to just read the book once or twice and write the script. Only go back to it once in awhile. I remember when we finally brought the script to Turner, he flipped through the script going “funny, I don’t really recognize any of my writing in this,” but in the end he loved the final product. He was very complimentary that we’d taken the spirit of it, that he understood the idea that a movie and a book are totally different beasts. I think that’s what I liked about the Turner book. You could smell it a bit, you could hear it. It wasn’t jampacked with stage directions and cluttered psychology. The idea of adapting something from a more poetic source gives you more motor than a thick novel when you have to cut out most of it.

One of the things that was sort of interesting about the adaptation is that it wasn’t until the very last stages of the script writing that we decided to make it a documentary. Partly for economic reasons, partly to create a style that is not that expensive i.e. the rockumentary. All those ’60s-’70s rockumentaries seemed to define that collision of music and movies. Like A Hard Days Night is kind of a documentary. It’s what’s really happening with those guys but let’s find a simple little story –- which is go to this place and put on the show. Hard Core Logo used to open with A Hard Days Night tribute actually. That was the original opening of the script. It was the song “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Fat and Ugly” and we had them all dressed in Beatles wigs and Beatles costumes and these screaming teenage school girls chasing them and replicating songs from Hard Days Night . I think it’s on the DVD. They end up being machinegunned to death by a Madonna lookalike and a transvestite with a gattling gun while these two naked chick fans are in this big pot being boiled. But people are always “let’s get to the fucking story,” so these openings fall flat.

And you shaving your head got cut out of the movie too. Were you frustrated by that? Like ‘I cut off all of my beautiful hair for nothing’?

Not really. It wasn’t a hard choice. It’s always shocking to see yourself on camera no matter what you’re doing. A few scenes we cut out because the movie begins to take a life of its own and accept and reject organs, so sometimes a scene just doesn’t belong. So no it wasn’t hard, it was fun to do and the actors got a kick out of it. It brings you closer to the actors, especially male actors. It’s a weird thing being an actor, hearing “go here, stand there, say this, do that” and the director is calling all the shots.

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INTERVIEW: Bruce McDonald (part 1!)

Posted on August 8, 2008 by

So after a brutal week of moving to new digs, having both our computers simultaneously + spontaneously combust on us, and working out this Hard Core Logo thing that we’ve already yapped to death about (Eye Weekly even interviewed us, how this seems like a good idea to anyone outside of my little brother, let alone a couple hundred little brothers is still beyond me), it’s nigh time to let the man himself take over. Dames and gents, director of Hard Core Logo and just the right # of Degrassi episodes (amongst other things), Mr. Bruce McDonald!

(this isn’t a 3-parter for suspense reasons, more just due to sheer exhaustion. Enjoy!)

JBdotcom: So let’s cut to the chase: Why is HCL the best Canadian film ever made?
BRUCE McDONALD: Ah, it’s always nice to hear that phrase. You know, I think every once in a while all the forces come together and they’re just right. Right time, right place, right guys, just everything kind of works. Partly the architecture of it — the Dirty Beatles, the working class Spinal Tap — maybe the architecture of the characters, they’re very archetypal. It’s just a great love story between these two guys, a deep friendship, and there’s a great chemistry between Callum [Keith Rennie] and Hugh [Dillon]. Just a great natural off-screen chemistry. They had this really intense curiosity, a mutual respect for each other coming from the different worlds -– music and film. So it was [author Michael] Turner’s design and the chemistry of these guys, going downriver to the heart of darkness. There’s something fundamental about the journey, it goes back to whatever Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn, Conrad –- not to get lofty -– but a lot of people over the years have been very generous.

How has it held up in your mind over the last 10+ years?
I haven’t really seen it since we’ve made it but I’ve had a lot of chats about it and I’m still good friends with Hugh and Callum and Michael Turner and Noel [Baker, the screenwriter]. The people that made it are all still pretty tight. Of all the films I’ve made I think this one has gotten the most response -– and longest lasting. It’s a nice discovery for people. They feel like they own this film in a way because it hasn’t been shoved down their throats. People carry it around with them and they’re excited to share their experiences with it when they see me. These are guys like people we know. A lot of movies I’ve seen about musicians -– especially rock musicians –- they’re either parodies or they’re painted as idiots or lovable oafs, where these guys really gave the characters and the world they’re in a great sense of stakes and reality. I’m very proud of it. It’s a very fine unexpected bonus having been part of this film.

Did you anticipate it developing the cult status that it has?
Not really. But it’s nice to know you’ve made something that’s going to last and age well. There’s so much stuff out there that it’s a miracle to even get it out there, nevermind have it take hold. It’s funny, these 12-year-old neighbours of ours are big Billy Talent fans and they’re huge Hard Core Logo fans. They’re 12! It’s their favourite movie! I just love that. I mean, when it came out it only lasted a couple of weeks in the theatre, got pretty good notices, but I never expected to be having this exciting phone conversation about this event coming up shortly. That to me is a great bonus of having made that film, that it still continues to resonate for people, still continues to be seen and discussed or referred to. Whether it’s this band naming themselves after Billy Tallent or it’s somebody I know doing a stage version of it.

Wait, really?
Oh yeah, it’s a musical. This guy from Edmonton. They also have the English rights to The Black Rider, the Tom Waits project. They’ve been touring that all over the UK, Canada, and America. This is their next project.

The movie has distro in the States now through Quentin Tarantino. How did that come about?
We were trying to shop it around and couldn’t get anybody interested. We went everywhere. And then at the very end of our year long slog through screening rooms, we went to Austin specifically because we knew Tarantino was going to be there. Our cameraman hunted him down at this house party and he came to see it the next night. It made a huge difference for awareness and respect. Suddenly it’s, “oh, Quentin loves this film, maybe it IS cool!” Made a huge difference back home. He was, god bless him, just a film fan and loved it. He was in a place at the time where he could do whatever he wanted, so I always had a great respect for him. He’s true to his roots, an independent filmmaker that tries to turn people on to films he loves. We put him on the Canadian release and the American release and its probably drawn a lot of people that probably wouldn’t have otherwise explored that route.

Do you think it’s weird that the Canadian star system needs an American name to legitimize itself? Or is that just the nature of being in a smaller country next to big papa?
Yeah, that’s just the way it goes. You hear the same stories out of Germany and England, no respect until another place gives the hearty embrace. Then the hometown crowd is all, “Oh, maybe your guy is alright!” That outside validation always makes a big difference.

You mentioned the love story between Joe Dick and Billy Tallent as one of the things that really makes the movie work, and we were actually joking earlier about how you single-handedly managed to foreshadow the sort of Judd Apatow bromantic comedy boom. What was it like bringing that to the forefront? It’s a punk rock movie, but it’s the relationship that keeps you.
Pulling that out was really the result of those two guys hitting it off personally. It sort of intensified and coloured everything in the script. If they hadn’t had that chemistry it would have been alright but I think that’s what people get about it. Romances are very powerful things. Traditionally, Canadian independent films have been more about alienation, broken down farms and just fucking bummer trips. You know, “fucked, this is just fucked, I’m all by myself and I woke up by myself…” so just this idea of connecting with another person in an intense way is really kind of inspiring and life affirming. The end result for poor Joe is just a very romantic way out too. Let’s just go big.

PART 2 COMING SOON…ISH

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‘LOOK, A VIDEO’ SATURDAYS: Hard Core JUICEBOXdotcom

Posted on July 5, 2008 by

We`ve been talking this shit up for the last three months, but our Hard Core Logo Tribute Night will actually be happening on August 14, 2008. Revue Cinema. Bands to be announced, but our boy Bruce McDonald will be doing a post-screening Q+A, and we`ll be watching his personal print of the movie. Basically, it`s going to be the best night of our lives. Full announcement here in the next week, so don`t tell anyone yet.

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