The following is a chat I had with Bruce McDonald, director of "Hard Core Logo", and now his new film, "The Tracey Fragments" – a unique take on teenage angst, starring Ellen Page. Click HERE for the review. The film uses an experimental visual technique of fragmenting the traditional frame into an ever changing kaleidoscope of split screen and multiple image effects. Bruce’s talented editor Jeremiah Munce joins in later to discuss the editing of the film:
DFD: How did the project first come to you?
Bruce: A good friend of mine, John L’Ecuyer, he’s a filmmaker, he’s directed a lot of episodes of Regenesis. He gave me a copy of the book to read. I try to read things that people give me, because they usually give it you for a reason, cause they think you’ll like it. I loved it and I thought, wow, I love this girl’s voice, the attitude, the kind of darkness that’s in there. And I thought that would be a great character for somebody to play - a fresher take on the teenage years. An opposition to the fabulous John Hughes, “Pretty in Pink” and all those movies.
DFD: This is Maureen Medved’s first novel and first screenplay?
Bruce: She’s a big movie fan, so she was quite excited that I offered her first crack at the screenplay. And she did a really good job. It’s sometimes hard when you’ve just finished a novel, you want to keep everything in and she did a smart thing and picked just a slice of the novel to tell. There were some big chunks of the story that obviously couldn’t fit into 90 mins, but she did a great job and enjoyed herself.
DFD: Did the screenplay look anything like the structure of the finished film?
Bruce: Well there was always a little bit of play in the novel and in the screenplay, jumping around in time a little bit. But there was nothing that really approximated the fragmenting visual of the movie. I think we kind of took the lead off the narrative time jumping and thought, let’s take that one step further and really play with time and space.
DFD: I saw that you had 2 editors Jeremiah Munce and Gareth Scales. Who is Jeremiah Munce? He’s credited as the conceptual designer. I had never heard of him before, yet his work was quite brilliant. Was he integral to the concept and design?
Bruce: Well, Jeremiah Munce was kind of the brains behind the operation and we had worked together on a couple of things. We did this documentary on Robbie Robertson where we kind of previewed that style. Jeremiah was game for doing that with this whole movie. The material lent itself well to the technology and the stylized idea of a fractured portrait of somebody. But it was still going into uncharted territory. We didn’t really have a map. We had a few references like comic books and some 60’s pop art movies and that sort of thing. But he designed it and pioneered it. We then brought on a couple of these other guys. Gareth (Scales) came on as a kind of an apprentice co-editor and Matt Hannam came on as well as a third editor. It was so time intensive and so dense in terms of trying to achieve these things.
DFD: How long was the editing process?
Bruce: It was about 6 months, which is longish for a little independent feature and then after that was the sound design and sound mixing. So, you know, three guys for six months, carving out how this is gonna go, it’s pretty intense. Actually Jeremy is actually sitting right beside me here.
DFD: Hey Jeremiah. Your work was amazing. What was in your brain when you first thought of portraying this story this way?
Jeremiah: The idea was put to me and I sort of rolled with it - going with the idea of a fracturedness and capturing that fractured psychology of this young gal and representing that viscerally.
DFD: Going into the story and narrative structure, I saw two different Traceys. The Tracey in the bus and the one looking for her brother. The narrative ending of the film, is it on the bus?
Jeremiah: When you’re on the bus we’re with her throughout. That’s the present tense. Everything else is playing out in her memory. Eventually everything culminates to ground itself in real time. And the fracturedness achieves a kind of wholeness in the end as well.
DFD: If the film were to linger on past the point where the credits rolls, where would Tracey be later in life?
Jeremiah: I feel it’s such a coming of age tale. She survives so many hardships and she’s sort of experienced glimpses of intimacy and she came to realize how dysfunctional her parents are. There’s the tough self-possessed quality in that final walk that is inspiring. She’s a very tough young gal growing up. She’s returning back to this very messed up reality.
DFD: Ellen Page was pretty awesome. Can you me how she got involved and what it was like working with her?
Jeremiah: Working with her footage, she’s incredible. Every take was authentic, She was ON all the time. She becomes the character, she puts herself into it.
DFD: The Broken Social Scene music helped set the tone. Tell me about their involvement?
Jeremiah: We were working with temps tracks which had a different feel for sure. Dark, a little bit too dark actually. The subject and treatment of the material had a darkness to it. When Brendan Canning and Charles Spearin started providing the new tracks, the new score elements actually brought a counteractive ethereal lightness that just worked well and balanced things out.
DFD: Bruce is working on a documentary on Brendan Canning. Did that evolve from this film?
Jeremiah: No, that’s completed now. I think Brendan agreed to be involved knowing that Bruce was involved and he felt comfortable working with him. They go back before Tracey and have collaborated before.
DFD: Talk about the ‘Re-Fragmented Process’, where you posted raw footage online and allowed other filmmakers to reedit the film, into a trailer and other sequences.
Jeremiah: I thought it was fascinating. People put their energies into it and had fun with it. There were a few that did a whole re-edit, straight cut, of the film. But I think it was brilliant and an innovative marketing tool. It also mirrored the formal technical innovation that is present in the film.
DFD: Is one of them going to be on the DVD?
Jeremiah: Yeah, I think that’s happening.
DFD: That’s about it. Thanks for talking to me today. And good luck with them film, I hope it has legs and people get to experience it. It’s a great film.
Other related postings:
The Tracey Fragments
Hard Core Logo