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


Chris Smith
6 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »





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

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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 »


Mark Borchardt: Do you think this is a little bit cathartic for you?
Friend/Musician: Uh, very cathartic, Mark.
Mark Borchardt: Do you know what cathartic means?
Friend/Musician: No.
See more »


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


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

User Reviews

Fascinating, hilarious, sad, inspiring documentary about the American dream
22 March 2011 | by tnrcooperSee all my reviews

This movie, about supremely untalented American film-maker Mark Borchardt and his attempts to make a short film in order to make a small amount of money which will launch him into fame and fortune as a film-maker, is riveting. As they say, fact is stranger than fiction. That is certainly borne out by this picture. Borchardt uses his friends, family, and assorted local actors to try and complete this picture.

Borchardt is a character who could drive a novel or inspire cult members. One sometimes wonders why so many of the folks who people his film work for as long as they do, with him. But in truth, it's not hard to tell. Borchardt, however misguided, has vision. He doesn't have much talent and he has a drinking problem, but he has a vision. He has determination and perseverance that others can only dream of. He has charisma. It makes him a compelling leader, but unfortunately he is devoid of many great ideas. His lack of focus and alcoholism extend the length of the production almost indefinitely. He does complete "Coven" and even gets a premiere in his hometown theater, but it takes him a long time.

He never makes the movie "Northwestern" which he dreams of making. Perhaps he didn't have the vision to bring that movie to fruition, but he did want to make epic films and leave the everyday grind of life in the US. He had his dream. Unfortunately, he didn't have the vision to bring his dreams to life but he had an awful lot of determination. If people take potshots at Borchardt for his supposedly being "white trash" then I hope they are living lives of total sophistication and order because if they aren't, they're total hypocrites. Yes, Borchardt might exhibit characteristics of being "white-trash", but the purity of his belief in getting out from under the life he had, is absolutely inspiring.

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

13 April 2000 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

American Movie: The Making of Northwestern See more »

Filming Locations:

Wisconsin, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$20,260, 7 November 1999

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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