I'm an indie film buff. Independent film breaks away from the Hollywood mold and tries new things. Sometimes this doesn't work out -- an indie film becomes an obscure novelty that no one's really heard of. But sometimes it can launch a career, such as in the case of Kevin Smith and his film, "Clerks."

And then there's Mark Borchardt.

I first came across him in the documentary "American Movie." The film follows Borchardt and his buddies as they strive to make a short black and white film called "Coven." I should probably note here that Borchardt pronounces "Coven" as "Koh-ven," even though one of his actors does a valiant job of trying to convince him that it's supposed to be pronounced "Kuh-ven."

I have a confession... I thought this was a "mockumentary." I mean, it never occurred to me that Borchardt and his stoner side-kick, Mike, might be real people. It seemed that they were actors doing a remarkably good job of playing the parts of losers. I know, I know... sounds harsh. But this Wisconsin duo doesn't really come off very well considering the constant swearing, the melodramatic conversations about life, and Marks over-enunciated yet still mumbled diatribes about "Vod-ka" and dropping acid. I honestly didn't think it would be possible for two directionless losers to actually MAKE a film. But I was wrong.

Lucky for me, after showing us all the perils of making "Coven," they decided to include it on the DVD as bonus material. And I have to say... it ain't bad. I mean, the acting is better than I would have expected, and the scenes that I had just seen in production came across WAY better than I would have thought. The grainy, black and white film it was shot on actually adds to the atmosphere of the film. I'm just not sure he could have accomplished the same thing with video. Probably a good thing this was made in 1996.

If you haven't seen "American Movie," you should. Especially if you have ANY interest in being a film maker. This is a look into a much stranger side of film making than you may have been exposed to.

I should note that Mark Borchardt went on to be in several other films, including "Jet Li's The One." He's written other movies and has at least two in production as of this post. Not bad for someone I had written off as a poser when I first saw him.

"American Movie" is funny and disturbing and worth the twenty-bucks or so you'll probably pay for it. Check it out.

Also, a documentary called "Startup.com" was on my viewing list this week. I'll tell you all about it later, but if you get a chance watch that one, too.

Until next time!


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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