Dreamland (2020) – Interview with Bruce McDonald

by Logan Myerz

Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bruce McDonald, best known for his 2008 zombie film Pontypool, about his newest dystopian noir thriller, Dreamland.  The film brings a solid cast of actors including Stephen McHattie, Henry Rollins, and Juliette Lewis. Dreamland reunites the director with the film’s star, Stephen McHattie, who plays the two lead roles, and screenwriter Tony Burgess, who co-scripted the film with Patrick Whistler. In the interview, Bruce McDonald discusses making the film, working with the cast, and shares his advice for up and coming filmmakers.

#BruceMcDonald #Dreamland #PontyPool #Interview

“On the night of the strangest wedding in cinema history, a grotesque gang boss hires a stone cold killer to bring him the finger of a fading, drug-addicted jazz legend.”

Interview with Bruce McDonald

CP: How did you get involved with this project?

BM: The team that made PONTYPOOL, writer Tony Burgess, actors Stephen McHattie and Lisa Houle and myself (director) decided to keep the band together and do another.  I raised some money to finance the script, which was inspired by a short film Steve had done called The Deaths of Chet Baker.

CP: What was the overall experience like making this film?

BM: We drank a lot of cheap red wine and had a lotta laughs.

CP: How long did it take to film this movie and where was it filmed?

BM: Filming took 33 Days.  It was shot in Luxembourg, a broken down town in Belgium called Charlesois-the Detroit of Belgium, and some pick up shots in Toronto.

CP: I love the set and costume design of this film. Do you think that captured the overall atmosphere of the film that you were going for as a director?

BM: Dreamy.  Euro trash.  Noir.  Modern Fairy Tale.   Costume Designer, Magdalena Labuz was brilliant, fresh and very surprising.  Loved her work.  Eugenie Collet and Florence Vercheval were the production designers and were also full of surprises and fresh ways of looking at things.

CP: What was it like working with Henry Rollins, Juliette Lewis, and also working with Stephen McHattie again?

BM: Fun!!  Always fantastic when you can get to work with people whos work you adore and admire.  And are genuinely excellent humans to boot.  They are fearless rebels, all three of them.

CP: I’m a huge Henry Rollins fan and I love how crazy he went with the Hercules character! He seems to always go over the top and super in your face with the characters he plays, and one of the many reasons I love him! What was he like on set?

BM: Henry is a generous, kind hearted, very intelligent artist.  He is super prepared when he comes to set.  He has great ideas to contribute.  He is funny.  Tells the most AMAZING stories at lunch and after work.  He is a true renaissance man .  I love him too!!!!

CP: Stephen plays two characters in the film (Trumpet Player and Johny), from a directing standpoint, were there any obstacles that you overcame when filming these 2 characters?

BM: For the director, (me) it was like having a front row seat at Steve’s Acting Academy.  We had lots of time in prep to discuss, explore and flesh out these characters.  Stephen was very involved all along the way, from the script stage, to casting and in music too.  Because he and I had prepped so well, discussing costume, hair, props, attitude, the kind of world these characters lived in, the hidden things in the characters’ pockets, the physical movements and characteristics of the two different characters…..well, the set was a dream.

CP: Did you have an overall idea how you wanted Stephen to play these characters or was it more a collaborative process?

BM: Stephen had already done a lot of research and work on the character of CHET BAKER because of the short film that he had done.  The HIT MAN was discussed between us.  I may have mentioned a JEAN- PIERRE MELVILLE movie called Le Samourai, but Stephen did most of the work!

CP: Do you have any funny or memorable stories from the set?

BM: The art department was putting up the neon sign for the nightclub, AL QAEDA. When four Belgian Cop Cars rolled up and ordered us to take it down.  They were very upset with us and concerned for our safety.

CP: Did you watch any of his films for inspiration before shooting this movie?

BM: I have worked with Stephen many times, so instead of watching him in a movie, I would go to his house.  I have not really seen that many movies.  Weird huh?

CP: Who was in charge of the score and music in the movie?

BM: ME!  Through a great friend and collaborator, JODY COLERO, I connected with composer JONATHAN GOLDSMITH who did a wonderful job on the score.  Jody helped us secure the Eurythmics song I SAVED THE WORLD TODAY, which was sung by Steven and produced by Jonathan and Jody.

CP: Do you have any advice for up and coming film makers ?

BM: Work harder on your story than ANYTHING ELSE.  Nothing else matters as much as story.  Have rough cut “screenings” for your screenplay.  Seek out pro writers and beg them to read your script and tear it apart.  Get their advice.  Actors are very good script readers.  They can help tell you when you are full of shit.  Save your movie IN PREP.  It is way better than trying to fix your script in the editing room, because then it is usually too late.

CP: Do you have any other projects in the works that we should be on the lookout for?


CP: Where can we find you on social media?

BM: I am not on social media but I do love to get letters or postcards and I always write back.  I am at:

Bruce McDonald

Visual Mechanics Union Local 999

510 Queen Street West

Toronto M5V 2B3


We appreciate Bruce taking the time to get interviewed for Cinephellas.com. Dreamland is now available On Demand and Digital!

Love those wild dreamers…….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.