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American Movie (1999)

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


6 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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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?


In the "elevator sequence" that is briefly shown as part of the movie "Coven", the actors that are portraying the doctors are wearing their driver's licenses on their lab coats instead of hospital staff identification badges. See more »


Uncle Bill: Do they smoke and have cigarettes up in Heaven? I don't think so... I don't think so.
See more »


Referenced in Storytelling (2001) See more »


The Remains of Children's Brains
Written & performed by by Mike Schank
used by permission of 33rd St. Music
See more »

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User Reviews

Just watched it again.
29 April 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I just watched this again the other night. It's probably the ninth or tenth time I've seen it, and I think it gets better every time. Contrary to what some people are saying, I don't think the makers of this film are laughing at and ridiculing Mark. Sure, some of the humor in the film is of the car-crash can't look away variety, but I feel underneath that they really admire the guy and his dogged tenacity. Another thing is I think Mark does show some skill as a director. Remember he has zero money shooting this stuff, and Coven was conceived as a money-making venture so he could make Northwestern. I think some of the samples they were showing from Northwestern actually looked very good. Now I don't think Mark writes the best dialogue in the world, but looking just at his photographic eye I'd say if the guy had any kind of schooling he might be shooting movies for someone right now. And finally, I think some of the people making negative comments about this movie need to look in the mirror and think about themselves a bit. OK, you don't like the movie, that's fine. But I've seen enough smug, superior, comments on here to make me want to puke. I love how as long as you're a poor, lower middle-class white in America people love to throw around terms like "white trash", "redneck", and other such pleasantries. I believe some scribe from Orange County at the beginning of the reviews even called them "inferior". I'm sure most of the people making the comments consider themselves liberals too; as if they have any concept of what that word means.

66 of 73 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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