‘My Old School’ Interview: Director Jono McLeod Doesn’t Recommend Making A Documentary About Your Youth

Talking about Jono McLeod’s new documentary My Old School without spoiling anything is hard. As the director tells me, the story started back in early ’90s Scotland, when Canadian exchange student Brandon Lee, joined McLeod and the rest of his classmates in high school. Lee was tall, geeky, and looked more mature than the other students. He seemed to know every answer the teachers asked and was considered one of the brightest pupils their school had ever seen.

“There was a reason for that,” McLeod said.

One of the year’s most compelling and captivating films, My Old School takes the true crime approach we’ve come to know really well and applies it to this unique story. Through a series of interviews with former students and faculty and flashback cartoons a la Daria, McLeod chronicles Lee’s days as a high school student. However, Lee refused to appear on camera and instead opted to be voice recorded. To stand in for him, the filmmaker enlists the help of fellow Scotsman, Alan Cumming who looks eerily similar to the film’s subject. He lip-syncs Lee’s dialogue almost perfectly adding another sinister layer to the story.

I talked to McLeod about the complexities of directing someone lip-syncing, working with Cumming in general, balancing the tone of a piece like this, and the emotional fallout of being Brandon Lee’s classmate in the 90s and today.

My Old School opens on July 22nd.

Cortland Jacoby
A D.C area native, Cortland has been interested in media since birth. Taking film classes in high school and watching the classics with family instilled a love of film in Cortland’s formative years. Before graduating with a degree in English and minoring in Film Study from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Cortland ran the college’s radio station, where she frequently reviewed films on air. She then wrote for another D.C area publication before landing at Punch Drunk Critics. Aside from writing and interviewing, she enjoys podcasts, knitting, and talking about representation in media.