While I wait for some files to download at work, let me tell you about a movie K and I watched over the last two nights.
The DVD for American Movie has graced our television for two nights in a row, as we entered the world of Mark Borchardt, independant filmmaker. Mark is being followed by a documentary team as he tries to get his production company, Northwestern, up and running.
Update: I'd like to take a moment, and coin a new term to describe this movie: "shabtastic".
shabtastic. (adj) - something that is so bad, and so poorly conceived that it in fact becomes good and entertaining.
e.g., "Did you see that new Leslie Nielsen movie? It's shabtastic!"
The bulk of the documentary focuses on Mark's attempts to first complete Northwestern, his (still unfinished) magnum opus. Northwestern is billed by Mark as a masterpiece in horror.. a Hitchcockian work.
Fairly quickly in the documentary, he abandons work on Northwestern (again), and instead decides to finish his slightly-less-masterful work, Coven.
I need to pause here, because there's a significant amount of film spent on how Mark insists Coven be pronounced. Mark argues for quite some time that it be pronounced "Koh-ven", and not "Kuh-ven." In fact, he argues with one of his lead actors, Robert Richard Jorge, who deserves to be in the theatre. You can tell.
Anyways, back to the film. The film follows Mark as he attempts to finish production of Coven (which despite all odds, manages to actually be finished).
The movie follows Mark into production meetings, on his paper route, through a day at his job at the cemetary, and delves deeply into his family life, truly giving an intimate portrait of the individual.
But let me tell you about our favourite character, Mike Schank. Mike is, well, a very unique individual. At one point, Mark says that all he needs is 3000 people like Mike Schank to buy his film, so he can afford to finish production on Northwestern. Kirsten and I both agree that it's quite frightnening to think that there might be 3000 people like Mike Schank out there.
Mike is your classic zombie stoner. He's a musician (and actually seems to be quite talented at it), but spent ALL of his youth drinking votka [sic], smoking marijuana, snorting cocaine and dropping acid.
Throughout the entire movie, Mike never changed his expression, which was a slight smile, and spoke in the most calm, sedate voice imaginable - with the exception of one scene that shows just how many demons live inside his head.
Another favourite character from the documentary is Uncle Bill. Uncle Bill was Mark's chief financer, executive producer -- and even has a brief cameo in the beginning of Coven. Sadly, he passed away in January 1997.
The DVD version of American Movie is highly recommended, as it includes Mark's film, Coven (remember kids... it's pronounced "Koh-ven"). I can't say whether watching it before or after the documentary will make it either better or worse... we watched it after the documentary.
I'd also recommend listening to the director's commentary of the documentary as well (after you've watched it, that is). There's many gems in there.
Mark Borchardt, if nothing else, is a determined, aggressive filmmaker.
But not necessarily a talented, determined, aggressive filmmaker. :)