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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?


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


Friend/Musician: Here is what it think of lottery... It's like, when you play the lottery, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose... But it better than using drugs or alcohol - Because when you use drugs and alcohol, especially drugs, you always lose.
See more »


References Dawn of the Dead (1978) See more »


Written by Randy Rhoads (as Randy Rhodes)
Performed by Mike Schank
used by permission of Essex Music/The Richmond Organization
See more »

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User Reviews

A great film
17 November 1999 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Okay, so I'm a sucker for a good documentary, particularly where it tells a modern-day Don Quixote story. A caveat: I met Mark Borchardt in the winter of 1995/96 while he was still working on Coven. But I'll save that story for later. American Movie, which commenced production not long after, accurately portrays the person that I knew, although in greater depth than I expected or believed existed. This is simultaneously a very funny and very sad film, and is brilliantly executed. Mark comes across as his own worse enemy: his childlike ambition and optimism -- which I admire -- is undermined by his apparent artistic ineptitude as well as his bizarre fiscal expectations. But he's also a charismatic guy. His loyal Sancho Panza sidekick is equally likeable: loyal, if frazzled, to the core. Like Don Quixote, American Movie presents an often-ignored inefficient aspect of freedom -- that people will be drawn toward professions to which they are not particularly well-suited, irrespective of repeated failure. It is a great film.

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