American Movie [DVD] [1999]

The American Movie DVD is vital viewing for any fans of this documentary about Hollywood dreams in Wisconsin because it contains Coven, the short film directed by the movie's subject, Mark Borchardt. Coven is the bizarre, ultra-low-budget film the audience sees being made in American Movie; being able to watch them back-to-back is highly enjoyable. Borchardt comes off like an inspired loon in the documentary, but watching his art stand alone adds extra depth to American Movie -- it's fun to watch him agonize over scenes and how to shoot them and then to see the finished product in all its black-and-white lo-fi charm. The commentary on the film is also an excellent feature that uses a group approach, bringing in filmmakers Chris Smith and Sarah Price as well as Borchardt and his acid-casualty, guitar-slinging sidekick Mike Schank. They do a good job staying off each other's toes (Schank even excuses himself for a cigarette break), and Smith and Price give Borchardt room to elaborate on his life and filmmaking. Also included are some deleted scenes (Smith claims they had enough for two more movies). The sound and picture have been remastered for DVD and the movie is presented in full screen.
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Overview

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Special Features

  • Digitally mastered audio and video
  • Full-screen presentation
  • English and Spanish subtitles
  • Director and cast commentary
  • "Coven" short film by Mark Borchardt
  • Deleted scenes
  • Direct web link
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Scene selections
  • Interactive menus

Synopsis

American Movie
Director Chris Smith made this documentary about independent filmmaking which had its world premiere at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize. American Movie centers on a low-budget horror-film buff named Mark Borchardt, who grew up on such horror classics as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Night of the Living Dead. Now in his late twenties, he has decided to make the ultimate horror opus in the form of an indie feature entitled Northwestern, the scariest film ever made in his Wisconsin town. Filled with determination and passion (and very little else), this documentary follows Mark for a year and a half in the making of Northwestern. The audience sees Mark fending off creditors, including the IRS, and avoiding child support payments so he can make this direct-to-video flick. His efforts to round up cast and crew are disastrous, as there is nobody in his town who shares his knowledge and passion for moviemaking. Eventually he decides to star in his film and wears a dozen crew members' hats as writer, producer, director, cameraman, editor, and soundman. American Movie follows this man with a dream to his dying uncle's trailer park, where he raises three thousand dollars. Unable to make an entire feature for that price, he scraps the idea in exchange for completing one of his many abandoned short films, Coven, which also premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival. The end is a world premiere as satisfying as getting accepted into Sundance. ~ Arthur Borman, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Mark Borchardt
    Mark Borchardt - Himself
  • Mike Schank
    Mike Schank - Himself

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