Synopsis by Arthur Borman
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.
independent-filmmaking, filmmaker, blue-collar, determination, film-crew, self-promotion, small-town