American Movie (1999)

R  |   |  Documentary  |  13 April 2000 (Australia)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 13,351 users   Metascore: 84/100
Reviews: 143 user | 69 critic | 29 from

Documentary about an aspiring filmmaker's attempts to finance his dream project by finally completing the low-budget horror film he abandoned years before.


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4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Schimmels ...
Actor in 'Coven'
Monica Borchardt ...
Mark's Mom
Alex Borchardt ...
Chris Borchardt ...
Ken Keen ...
Mike Schank ...
Friend / Musician
Matt Weisman ...
Casting director
Bill Borchardt ...
Mark's Uncle / Executive Producer (as Uncle Bill)
Cliff Borchardt ...
Mark's Dad
Tom Beach ...
Production manager
Joan Petrie ...
Mark's Girlfriend / Associate Producer
Robert Richard Jorge ...
Dean Allen ...
Props / Special effects
Tommy Dallace ...
The Movie Star


On the northwest side of Milwaukee, Mark Borchardt dreams the American dream: for him, it's making movies. Using relatives, local theater talent, slacker friends, his Mastercard, and $3,000 from his Uncle Bill, Mark strives over three years to finish "Covan," a short horror film. His own personal demons (alcohol, gambling, a dysfunctional family) plague him, but he desperately wants to overcome self-doubt and avoid failure. In moments of reflection, Mark sees his story as quintessentially American, and its the nature and nuance of his dream that this film explores. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 April 2000 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

American Movie: The Making of Northwestern  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$20,260 (USA) (5 November 1999)


$1,160,426 (USA) (21 April 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Mark Borchardt says the word "man" 151 times. See more »


Mark Borchardt: And you get your name on the credits as a producer, man.
Mark's Uncle: [Deadpan] Yay.
See more »


Fight Fire With Fire
Written by James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Cliff Burton
Performed by Mike Schank
used by permission of Creeping Death Music
See more »

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User Reviews

American tale
16 November 1999 | by (Philadelphia) – See all my reviews

At several points in "American Movie," would-be filmmaker Mark Borchadt is forced to confront what compels him on a trail with seemingly few rewards. A constant refrain is heard in his answers. He doesn't want to work the forgettable life of a newspaper boy; he wants to achieve celebrity. Why? Though Mark doesn't quite know, his volumnious collection of scripts and tomes underscores his simple love of film.

Yet "American Movie" is brutally honest in its treatment of Mark. While it allows his dreams of making "the great American film" to fly free on film, it also captures a life filled with lower-class constraints and realities. Despite all of Mark's desire, his motivation is frequently lost in a life gush with alcohol. Hence, the making of Borchadt's film, "Coven", goes from 6 months to 3 years and the movie suffers a bit from being drawn out.

"American Movie" is rife with memorable supporting characters and Mark is an able lead. This film is really the story of two filmmakers, the one in front of the camera and the one behind. Director Chris Smith has already received his plaudits, and once "American Movie" makes the rounds of the indy circuit, Mark Borchadt will also have his share of fame. Maybe then he'll know what to do with it.

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