carlo allegri/getty images
In a crowded field of movies aimed at teen audiences, how does a filmmaker set his movie apart, especially when it’s a low-budget indie flick? If you’re directing The Tracey Fragments, based on the book by Maureen Medved, you take the title to its literal extreme, employing multi-frame editing to break up each scene into several boxes of varying angles, colours, sizes and views.
“It’s always (nerve-wracking) because you’re experimenting, you’re kind of going to some place that people have not really gone before,” says Canadian director Bruce McDonald (Hard Core Logo) in an interview during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. “And you know, this being a little independent movie I thought, ‘Well, we can’t just make an ordinary film, we’ve gotta try to astonish people. We’ve got to do what we can to bring some sense of, I don’t know, showbiz or astonishment ... to the table.’ So this was our way of bringing the razzle dazzle, I guess.”
Set in Winnipeg but shot over 14 days in Hamilton, the film stars Canadian Ellen Page as 15-year-old Tracey Berkowitz who is searching for her lost younger brother while dealing with her own emotional issues and the dangers of the big city.
Because the film didn’t have a big budget for extras or closed sets, it was largely shot in the city as it happens.
“It was kind of a nice way to kind of keep the parade of life flowing through the movie, and so ... You’re in there with faces ... They’re not in the actor union these faces, these are just, like, crazy-looking people,” McDonald says. “So that’s always refreshing, (but) it makes things a bit more dodgy sometimes, a bit more complicated.”
It took about six months of intense editing with multiple designers to complete the work, but the director says he’s happy with the final product. “It’s like visual music or like a comic book,” he says.
The Tracey Fragments opens in theatres today.