From filmmaker Jono McLeod, the animation-embellished live-action documentary tells the true story of a mysterious student who enrolled in a Glasgow school in the 1990s; film available on-demand today.
My Old School, an official selection of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, is a true story following a mysterious transfer student enrolled in school in Glasgow back in the 90s, who may not be whom his Scottish classmates and teachers believe. Documentary filmmaker Jono McLeod, who experienced the incident firsthand, interviewed old classmates and teachers, who join him in telling the story of this mysterious interloper, Brandon Lee.
My Old School arrives On Demand on October 18 from Magnolia Home Entertainment.
The documentary follows 16-year-old Lee (Alan Cumming, Son of the Mask), who in 1993 enrolled at Bearsden Academy, a secondary school in a well-to-do suburb of Glasgow, Scotland. What followed over the next two years would become the stuff of legend. Lee had been privately tutored in Canada while he accompanied his mother, an opera diva, on tour before her tragic death. The preternaturally bright student surprised teachers by blazing toward his goal of entering medical school, displaying a wealth of knowledge beyond his years. He found friends despite his initial awkwardness, taking bullied students under his wing, introducing classmates to seminal retro bands, and even starring in the school's production of South Pacific – until his secret was revealed.
McLeod's use of 2D animated flashback scenes with cartoon characters evokes high school life from 25 years ago. While drawing inspiration from MTV’s 1990s high school icon, Daria, the film also nods to the animation styles of the 1970s. While bringing viewers back to the 90s, the animation emphasizes the situation's absurdity and places the students back in their teenage personas during the scandal.
Producers John Archer and Olivia Lichtenstein noted, “this is a story that will remind you of your schooldays; an unforgettable tale told with warmth, verve, and originality by Class 5C, who lived through this extraordinary deception and have never forgotten it. And now, neither will you!”
Starring actor Alan Cumming as both the face and the voice of Brandon (albeit never at the same time), the film plays on its theme of identity and deception. The actor lip-syncs to an audio interview recorded by McLeod of the imposter himself. He also provides the voice of the young Brandon in the animated flashback scenes.
“This is a great Scottish tale, one that gripped the entire nation when it first broke back in the 1990s, and this documentary retells it from the point of view of the pupils and teachers it all happened to!” shared Cumming. “Their experience, their truth, and the legacy they still struggle with will, I believe, now captivate a global audience. It's told with a quirky sensitivity, humor, and honesty. It's a story that has always fascinated me, and I am delighted to play a part in its telling.”
The film features period-specific animation akin to Daria. In the case of My Old School, “I was aware that we had quite a complex story to tell, with lots of twists and turns,” adds McLeod. “So, I wanted to find the best way to do that. I felt the simplicity of cartoon characters would be much easier for an audience to connect with, as opposed to hiring actors to try and recreate those scenes in actuality. I also wanted those moments to transport people back to that place and time - a 1990s high school. And there is no more iconic 1990’s high school kid than Daria Morgendorffer, so we definitely nod to that classic, but we also were looking at earlier animations like Scooby Doo and The Archies for when we go back even further in time. The team at Wild Child were just fantastic, and I’m so pleased that we were able to work with a Scottish animation company to get this film to the big screen.”
Check out the official trailer:
McLeod serves as director alongside producers, award-winning documentarian Lichtenstein and Archer for Hopscotch Films. The animation is by Wild Child Animation, with Rory Lowe serving as animation director and Scott Morriss as lead animator.
Source: Magnolia Home Entertainment