Interview: Bruce MacDonald Finds The Perfect Wave

Small Bruce MacDonald Headshot
“The Perfect Wave” Director Bruce MacDonald. Courtesy, Mission Pictures Releasing.

“The Perfect Wave” is a full length, dramatic, theatrical feature film based on the true story of a 24-year old, New Zealander, Ian McCormack. The film was shot exquisitely in South Africa, Bali and Java under the direction of internationally renowned television commercial director Bruce MacDonald. It was recently released in the United States after a successful run in South Africa.

Jennifer Williams: How did you come up the script for “The Perfect Wave”?

Bruce MacDonald: We actually developed the script ourselves. I approached Ian McCormack in February 2009 about making a film about his [life] experience and he immediately agreed. So that started a two-year process of research and development. We did an initial draft with a South African writer, which really gave us a starting point with a middle and an end. But [the script] incorporated the key aspects of the Ian’s testimony. We then approached an American writer with whom I had worked very closely to create the completed script – which by the way was still being polished a week before shooting.

Jennifer Williams: Is this your first feature as a Director and/or Producer? What do you make of the experience?

Bruce MacDonald: Yes, it’s my directorial debut as a features director. However, I spent the last twenty years directing commercials across the world and this was perfect training on how to evoke performances that are memorable.

The biggest adjustment from doing commercials was the perseverance you need to drive a ship for some 40 days and stay creative over such a lengthy period [of time]. The amazing thing was that I loved it. I feel I was born to do this. I woke up invigorated each day and went into withdrawal after completing the shoot. But then began the post-production stage of making a film… which takes loads of time and precision.

The Perfect Wave HI-RES Poster
Jennifer Williams: Was it difficult to raise the budget for the film?

Bruce MacDonald: Yes, raising money is very, very tough and would not enjoy doing it again. That’s for sure! Our budget was $2.5M USD. But when you watch the film, you will wonder how we did it and that’s the magic of years of experience.

Jennifer Williams: Why do you think “The Perfect Wave” will resonate with audiences?

Bruce MacDonald: It’s a film for the whole family. It inspires mothers who are moved by the power of prayer. It has the adventure and travel aspect that takes viewers to places that they [only] see in travel magazines, which will appeal to everyone. It’s also a love story, so that element has a large appeal. There are also moments of humor and the ending is quite powerful. The anointing of God is upon it and whether you a Christian or not, you will be riveted to your seat and the last wave of the film should knock surfers off their socks!

Jennifer Williams: Is the film also for people who aren’t Christians or religious?

Bruce MacDonald: The whole aim was to make a film that appeals to a secular audience, not only Christians. We saw this success in South Africa where many non-Christians came to the theater and loved the film.

Jennifer Williams: How much research did you have to do in order to make the film? Particularly in finding such gorgeous locations for the beach and surfing shots!

Bruce MacDonald: Having surfed my whole life (and that’s 37 years I have surfed), I wanted to capture the spirit of surfing and I believe we have achieved this. I knew exactly where we should shoot. I understood the winds, the sun path, the swells and when a good and bad time was to shoot in the various locations. I was born to direct this! Surfing is a passion and those who surf love the film. I also took into consideration the non-surfers. I have been at film festivals with my wife and after five minutes of surfing… she is ready to leave. So I carefully used surfing as a vehicle to take the film from one location to the next. You be the judge!

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Cheryl Ladd as Mrs. McCormack in “The Perfect Wave.” Courtesy, Mission Pictures Releasing.

Jennifer Williams: Cheryl Ladd is very famous for her stint on “Charlie’s Angels” and in the under-rated war drama, “Purple Hearts.” Were you nervous at all about working with her?

Bruce MacDonald: Yes, of course. I was nervous, but she is amazing. She is such a great icon. She said so many nice things about me post-shoot, so I guess we really hit it off. I am a huge admirer of hers.

Jennifer Williams: How did you go about casting the film with such interesting and talented actors?

Bruce MacDonald: That was God. He told me who and how I should cast. He gave me strategy and I just followed his voice.

Jennifer Williams: Please tell us about how you came to be a Film Director…

Bruce MacDonald: I love directing. I love the camera. I love making beautiful images. The discipline that one gains in commercials was a huge asset, as commercials require so much planning and presentation to clients and agencies. So I took this into the film and had each scene story-boarded. I broke the film up into scenes that were almost like long commercials and tackled each scene, one scene at a time. It really worked so well.

Jennifer Williams: Do you think that “The Perfect Wave” can attract an audience not used to seeing faith-based films? “Soul Surfer” did that and performed very well.

Bruce MacDonald: Yes, I do. We have seen this in South Africa where we have already released the film. Our film out-performed “Soul Surfer’s” opening weekend in South Africa and it also out-performed what “Chasing Mavericks” did in its opening weekend.

Actor Scott Eastwood as Ian McCormack in "The Perfect Wave." Courtesy, Mission Pictures Releasing.
Actor Scott Eastwood as Ian McCormack in “The Perfect Wave.” Courtesy, Mission Pictures Releasing.


Jennifer Williams: What upcoming projects do you have in the “pipeline”?

Bruce MacDonald: I have a massive project that I have had in development with Lori McCreary and Morgan Freeman’s Revelations Entertainment which is an amazing story. We had Tab Murphy do the polish recently and then I’m hoping some producer who needs a fresh eye, will read this article and say. He might be perfect for my film and approach me. It’s in God’s hands.

About Jennifer Williams 53 Articles
Jennifer Williams - Politics and Entertainment Editor Jennifer Williams is a writer and interviewer based in the Eastern United States who has interviewed thought leaders and opinion makers such as Steve Forbes, Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Michael Steele, Christine Todd Whitman, Grover Norquist, Catherine Davis, Jim Gilmore, Stephen Baldwin, Rick Santorum, Kirk Cameron and the late Edward W. Brooke. Jennifer has directed and produced a number of media projects after working in a variety of production roles on films such as A BEAUTIFUL MIND, SIGNS, HACK, SURRENDER DOROTHY, LIKE MIKE, I.Q., and JERSEY GIRL. She and her producing partner are currently working on a political documentary due for release in 2017. Jennifer is the Entertainment & Politics Editor for Politisite and Executive Editor of The Williams View... as well as an alum of Tulane University, La Salle University and New York University.

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