Iconic Canadian Director Bruce McDonald Guest Lectures Film Production Classes

When Canadian Film icon, director Bruce McDonald, walked into Toronto Film School’s Film Production class last week, it was a thrill students weren’t expecting.


McDonald is best known for such films as Roadkill, Highway 61, Hard Core Logo, Picture Clare, The Tracy Fragments and Pontypool, to name a few, as well as a slew of awards. Not to mention the hundreds of television directing credits on such shows as Degrassi: The Next Generation, Bomb Girls, Reign, Bitten, and Heartland. And last week he was the guest lecturer for the Canadian Film Studies course, a new offering in the Film Production Diploma program.


The accomplished director thrilled the students with several of his films throughout the day including a rare collection of footage featuring director’s commentary, extended scenes and bloopers. The students then had the opportunity to engage in a lively question and answer session, which had McDonald relaying stories of his extensive film career as well as much observed advice. This advice included tips about writing, funding practices, words of wisdom, and just plain sharing of fascinating stories to learn from.




“He was so down to earth, inviting and approachable,well versed,” said TFS Film production student Alex Maiuri. “The stories he shared were so fascinating like going out on the town with Quentin Tarantino after the director had seen Hard Core Logo at a Festival and that Quentin was so excited and floored by the film that he wanted to distribute it.”


McDonald agreed to do three, one-hour-long classes, staying afterwards to answer even more questions from the students. Several of our students even attended two and even three of the classes. To top it off, McDonald arrived early and toured the campus, meeting and greeting instructors, staff and other students not a part of the classes.


The Canadian Film Studies class is new to the Toronto Film School curriculum this term and available to our fifth term Film Production students going forward. The regular instructor is James Dunnison, a well-versed director of Canadian film and television in his own right. Dunnison arranged the fill in by McDonald and promises to have more surprises in the future. So those who missed out on Bruce McDonald may still yet have an opportunity to meet this legend and more.




Canadian Film Studies was added to the curriculum due to the importance of navigating the Canadian film industry, and sharing it with our ever increasing international student presence. Most of our students will likely be embarking on long careers in our world-renowned film industry and should become familiar with its past, present and future historically, culturally, and with an eye towards business and it’s ever increasing presence on the world stage. Canada and Toronto in specific is a well-loved film-centric environment. Not only to our own filmmakers but for those visiting from around the world. In the past, our films and television productions have gone on to worldwide acclaim, and our co-productions are opening doors everywhere.


The quality of crews, ease of locations, post-production facilities and technology are all jaw dropping to those who wish to film in our city. Many of the co-productions happen on our soil, and many of these masterpieces have even gone on to earn Oscar nominations—as evidenced recently by films such as Brooklyn and Room, both were nominated for Best Picture at the 2016 Academy Awards. Bruce admitted he was excited and thrilled to participate with the Toronto Film School and interact with the students and not only share his experiences but also offer the students a chance to really learn about what film production in Canada has to offer not only to the world but our own filmmakers.



Christopher Lane is an instructor in the Film Production Diploma Program at Toronto Film School. He is a writer,producer and director who has been working in the film industry for more than 20 years.