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American Movie (1999)

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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6 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Tom Schimmels ...
Actor in 'Coven'
Monica Borchardt ...
Mark's Mom
Alex Borchardt ...
Mark's Brother
Chris Borchardt ...
Mark's Brother
Ken Keen ...
Friend / Associate Producer
Mike Schank ...
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
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Storyline

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:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 April 2000 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

American Movie: The Making of Northwestern  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$20,260, 7 November 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,160,426, 23 April 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

Mark Borchardt: [to cast with covered faces] You guys gotta look menacing! Can you be more menacing?
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Connections

Featured in Cinemassacre's Top 5 Movies About Making Movies (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Mr. Bojangles
Written by Jerry Jeff Walker
Performed by Mike Schank
used by permission of Warner/Chappell Music
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User Reviews

 
Painful Realities
7 October 2002 | by See all my reviews

I enjoyed this one, because I can relate to it.

At one time in my life I was trying to make films, and experienced many of the same problems Mark Borchardt did in trying to make HIS film. And I also went through a protracted period of self-absorbed arrested development, where I refused to grow. But then, miraculously, I got married, and had kids. I realized that being a struggling filmmaker was, in all likelihood, not going to feed my family. So I got a decent job and did what I felt I needed to do to make that happen. That is what an mature, responsible adult does.

Mark hasn't faced up to that reality as yet, and so, in that sense, he is a retarded adolescent. For this reason, there is a hopelessness about him. Like Don Quixote, he seems so inept and self-deluded that he doesn't realize how bad off he really is. The viewer feels a sense of superiority and pity for him and his circle. Mark has kids and an ex-wife and bills to pay, but the film depicts him caring basically only about pursuing his "artistic vision".

Despite this, Mark comes across in the film as a likeable individual, surrounded by a very interesting family and group of friends. Unfortunately, Mark lacks many of the things necessary to be successful both in life and in a career: maturity, responsibility, education, knowledge, life experience, prioritization, financial clout, etc.. Yet he trudges on, much like Ed Wood, apparently without any semblance of a clue.

I guess we are supposed to feel encouraged by the spectacle of the "never say die" attitude of this noble individual, struggling against the odds. And man, what odds there are! Kiefer Sutherland, Colin Hanks, Tori Spelling and Angelina Jolie are all offspring of big-time film or TV people; no doubt, they will all want to direct some day, if they aren't already. How much room is there for an independent like Mark? It's like watching a guy hit himself in the head with a board, over and over again. Come to think of it, that is pretty close to what happens to one of Mark's actors, with the kitchen cabinet door, in one of the funniest scenes I have ever seen in any movie.

Despite these misgivings and seeming criticisms, I truly enjoyed this movie, and would heartily recommend it to anyone. Uncle Bill is amazing. I have a friend who met both Mike and Mark and he told me that, in real life, these guys are just exactly the way they appeared in the movie.


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