Bruce McDonald, Canada’s “bad boy” film director reunites the team of the cult favourite ‘PONTYPOOL’ to bring us his new film ‘DREAMLAND’. A surreal dark comedic blend of horror and fantasy that is sure to cause us to dig deep into everyday concepts and norms. ‘Dreamland’ comes out may 29th on numerous media services including Apply TV, Rogers, Bell, Cogeco, Cinaplex, Telus, and Show +!
HOLR sat down with Director Bruce McDonald & lead actor Stephen McHattie to talk about the film!
1: How do you feel about the film coming out while theatres are closed?
S: I haven’t had great experiences in movie theatre for the last 10 years.
B: We’re also an independent film. There are screens here and there, but most people see our films on the old days on DVD, or some curated thing, specialty channel – most of that audience came from there. It’s nice to see it on the big screen, one of the things I was just looking into is there’s a drive in in Muskoka and thought it would be fun to get a drive-in double feature of our movie, so I’m waiting to hear back from these guys. When was the last time you were at the drive in?
S: The other thing is for a Canadian movie, the battle is always to get the movie in theatres and it’s very difficult, so, Mox Nix!
2: What about Stephen inspired this film?
S: I think it came out of a little 5-minute movie I’ve done about “The deaths of Chet Baker” and I showed it to Bruce, and that’s kind of how it got going. Then we got together with Tony, and our friend Joseph Chen, yeah it was like that.
B: Stephen is right that was the kickoff, it was a great movie by Robert. And I’ve had the pleasure to work with Stephen on many occasions over the years in different movies and tv shows, and it’s always been fun and its always good. So, when I saw THAT I was like “wow, I have never seen such an authentic and heartbreaking portrayal of Chet baker” and I was kind of stunned at how good it was. We all had a good time working on Pontypool together, Stephen, Lisa Houle, Tony Burgess the screenwriter, so it’s like we had a really nice four piece going there and thought it would be nice to keep working together, and you can’t really rely on the gods to come up with the goods, so we thought we would push it a little bit and see if we could create a vehicle for us to play together again. Luckily, the gods smiled and sent us the mysterious Joseph Chen, a tech investor form Kitchener Waterloo, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know if it would’ve left the station. His faith in us really gave us permission and the confidence to go forward.
S: Gave us a little push.
3: Where do you pull your inspiration for your controversy? You play along with thoughts people have but don’t discuss due to “appropriate norms” – Where does that come from?
B: It’s a mysterious thing, Tony, who is kind of the brains of the operation in a way, leads the charge fearlessly. He manages to keep the door open to the unconscious, keeps this little wooden door open in his heart, he allows things just to come out and tries not to explain himself too much. I think there’s a great joy in a sort of, release the hounds – he doesn’t second guess or question himself.
S: Tony is just brilliant with dialogue, and a lot of it is nonsensical, but when you’re doing it, it makes perfect sense. I love the way he writes; I don’t know how he does it.
5: Inspiration by director or someone for the hardship of the gruesomeness
The pictures and the Sound help with those and when those events happen, we try to magnify it with crunching sounds and a big musical hit – so you’re getting a full symphony on those little touches. If I was going to think about directors that we sort of looked at for this movie. There’s a movie called “The Killing of A Chinese Bookie” by an American director called John Cassavetes, which kind of had a little bit of a thing to this – regarding the club and some underworld people. Maybe a little bit of Luis Buñuel, and maybe a little bit of this French guy’s name Jean-Pierre Melville, made a film called “Le Samourai” about an underworld man. I guess they add up a little bit, some of these things.
6: Where did you draw your vampire inspiration?
B: When Tony wrote it, he wrote it as kind of a little Christopher Lee, a little Bela Lugosi, the classic vampires.
And I think when Tomas decided he was going to accept our offer be a vampire, talking with him his inspiration seemed to be more about chocolate cake. He kind of imagined this young girl as a piece of chocolate cake, which kind of erased any moral questions for him, and he was excited to eat that cake.
7: Stephen, how was this film, experience, and character resonate with you differently than anything else you’ve done.
S: I think the alienation of the character was very different from things I usually do. He doesn’t really drive the action, so it was kind of different in acting terms in that way. Usually, the parts I play, I’m more the driver in the scenes, so it’s different in that way. And of course, playing two different characters, I’ve done that a bit before and I’ve always liked doing it, so it was a great experience.
8: What thought, or feeling are you hoping people are going to walk away with after seeing your film?
B: I’d be curious to hear people’s thoughts that’s for sure, because it’s open to interpretation and its open to decoding, there’s a lot of interesting kind of notions in the movie. I’m hoping that they might take some second thoughts and wonder how rich people party. I don’t know, I’m curious actually. It’s a beautiful and kind of strange adventure, that rather than give out the answers, I’d be very curious to hear about what touches people or what reaches them.
9: It’s more difficult being a Canadian director, adding the controversial concepts on top of that, what would you say your biggest challenge is with getting your foot in the door and get everything together? With this movie specifically or generally/with things that have overlapped.
B: When you have something that’s different, or fresh, or not out of the usual basket of goods, it sometimes takes a little bit extra time and patience to find the likeminded people that share your love of, in this case; jazz, vampires, Chet Baker, crime, kind of dreamy cinema. So, sometimes it takes a little bit of extra time to find your gang, but once you do you can be unstoppable. So, I think to me that was the biggest challenge, is trying to find that extra group of people. We were lucky on this one, because the original gang that we talked about at the beginning; myself, Stephen, Lisa, Tony, kick started by the remarkable Joseph Chen, that was kind of our vision. That really propelled us really far, and constantly, there was always a great source of energy and possibility.
10: Stephen Are you going to release an art collection based off this film?
S: Yeah, I’ve been trying to get a show together.
11: Do either of you gentlemen have any upcoming projects yo’re allowed to give us a little sneak peek on?
B: Well, things are a little bit on ice right now. I’d love to give you a little peek in the door, but I don’t want to mislead you. In a short time from now, check in, and I’d love to give an update on lots of interesting things cooking. These last number of months it’s been really a good time, not for some people obviously, but for some of our tribe to kind of get things ready.
S: Last September Guillermo del Toro was doing a movie called “Nightmare Alley”, and he called me up wanting me to be in it, I said yeah, and it’s still not done. We were more than halfway done with filming.
12: What are you most excited for with the release of this movie?
S: For people to see it.
B: People are pretty un-shy to write things and share information and their own personal reviews. It’s quite hilarious sometimes reading different things where people are commenting on the thing they’ve seen, so I got to look forward to that. It’s sort of unfiltered, there’s sometimes biases, but it’s often pretty funny because they don’t know us, don’t have any particular relation to the film – they’re not making money from their reviews or anything, they’re just putting it out there. It’s like standing in a school yard and hearing a conversation about something you’ve done, so that’s interesting.
13: What is your Mantra?
S: Mine is; Onward
B: No guts, No glory, Never surrender.
B: It really makes you dig deep into every day concepts & norms that are not what we think – what is happening under their nose. It’s really going to make people think different ways of norms.
S: From my point of view – everybody comes a point where you have to face what you’ve done. You have to turn around and face it.