Bruce McDonald has been up all night, and by the rumpled looks of him (and his bloodshot, red-rimmed eyes), it wouldn't take much to persuade this cowboy to kick off his boots and slip under the pink duvet he's sitting on.
Granted, an eight-year-old girl's frilly bedroom is not normally the place one would expect to find the cult indie director of such films as Road Kill, Hard Core Logo and Pontypool.
But here the prize-winning Toronto filmmaker is - brown teddy bear in one large hand, black coffee in the other - chatting about his latest cinematic foray, this time to make a tween, made-for-TV movie, called My Babysitter's a Vampire. A project he says he signed up for "because it takes the piss out of the Twilight thing." (Don't worry parents, there is no such language in the family-friendly show).
"This movie is a vehicle to make fun of pop culture like the way Mad Magazine would do it in the fifties and sixties," says McDonald. "Vampires seem to be eternally popular, primarily because they're sexy.
"The Twilight series supercharged the whole thing. But her [ Twilight creator Stephenie Meyers's]take on vampires is structured around abstinence, which I find very strange. Come on, it's not 1972 any more, is it? Vampires are exotic, other-worldly creature that personify the fun of the night-time world. A concept that is quite appealing to anybody - but especially kids still living in their parents' homes.
"This script mocks, in a gentle way, the hypocrisies of the conservative world we've come to live in," says McDonald, who has been pulling all-nighters, along with the rest of his cast and crew, to accommodate filming the outdoor sequences in the dark.
"We're all keeping vampire hours," he quips, with a weary grin.
Like McDonald, Toronto's Matthew Knight, who plays one of the movie's leads, Ethan, is equally unimpressed with the Twilight take on bloodsuckers. "I loved the fact that the script is parodying Twilight," he says. "I don't like the movies or the books. To me, vampires are supposed to be these cool guys who do really cool things. They're not these sparkly love interests," adds Knight, who has appeared in episodes of Queer as Folk, and the horror films Grudge 2 and 3.
Written by Tim Burns ( An American Werewolf in Paris), the live-action movie is the story of two 14-year-old, nerdy boys who are on the fringe of the cool gang at high school. Ethan (played by Knight ) and his pal Benny (Toronto's Atticus Mitchell) screw up one Friday night and lose sight of Ethan's eight-year-old sister. His parents ground him, and hire a babysitter to watch Ethan and his sister on their Friday date night - the ultimate teen humiliation.
Enter the recently bitten but extremely hot babysitter, Sarah (Ottawa's Vanessa Morgan). The action takes off from there. Produced by Fresh TV, My Babysitter's a Vampire airs Saturday night on Teletoon at 7 o'clock. The children's specialty channel has also picked up a 13-part TV series of the same name, slated to air in 2011 (McDonald has directed five of the series episodes).
The TV movie was shot in Dundas, Ont., and Toronto over 17 days. McDonald describes the comedy spoof as an extremely "aggressive" shoot.
"I've done kids' shows before, so it's not like I'm new to the genre," says McDonald, who has directed several episodes of Degrassi: The Next Generation, as well as Ready or Not. "But those are mostly dialogue- or issue-based. This has physical effects, visual effects and tons of action sequences. It's a fully-loaded kids show."
My Babysitter's a Vampire was one of a slew of documentary and film projects McDonald's made in the past 12 months. He premiered the concert documentary, This Movie Is Broken (about Toronto's orchestral rockers Broken Social Scene), screened Trigger (with the late Tracy Wright and Molly Parker) at the Toronto International Film Festival, filmed a sequel to Hard Core Logo, and another documentary, called Music from the Big House, in which Hamilton blues artist Rita Chiarelli and two bands entertain the inmates (all lifers) at Angola, the Louisiana maximum-security prison.
At the time of this interview last summer, McDonald was also prepping to film a documentary called Lucky Ho (about a women's prison martial-arts project) and he was busy scouting locations for the zombies-gone-amok sequels, Pontypool 2 and 3, which will be shot simultaneously later this year.
The pace, he adds, has been slightly insane. "A lot of these projects I've been working on 10 years. But, of course, they all just came together at once. But you gotta love [this business]- or it's just too difficult sometimes. If you don't love it, it doesn't matter how much money they pay you, it's not worth it."
My Babysitter's a Vampire airs Saturday on Teletoon at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
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