American Movie makers Sarah Price and Chris Smith, book-ended by their subjects, Mark Borchardt and Mike Schank, on the
American Movie makers CHRIS SMITH and SARAH PRICE spent two years documenting MARK BORCHARDT attempting to complete his own movies, the epic Northwestern and the schlock horror Coven. The result is funny and disturbing, but is it a fake? Words: Miles Fielder
I thought American .l/Iot'ie was a lake documentary when l lirst saw it at the lidinhtirgh International liilm liestival in 199‘). That was. alter all. the year ol the greatest movie scam ever: The Blair ll'iii'li I’m/'i'i'l. But while that ‘horror doc~ has been revealed as lake. I’m no longer sttre xllllt‘l'lt'llll Movie is a cunning work ol liction.
For a start no one else in the press is suggesting it is. And. preparing to interview Wisconsin lilminakers (‘hris Smith and Sarah Price and their suhjects. Mark Borchardt and his deadhcad pal Mike Schank. a year on dttring the lidinhurgh leg ol their promotional tour. I lind myscll assuming this is a ‘straight‘ documentary. It‘s a strange amnesia. Here‘s a snipet li‘om my ‘straight‘ interview:
The List: How does it leel to he touring with your completed lilms [Form rhymes with oven is playing with .‘llllt'l'lt'dll ."Vlut'it'll’
Chris Smith: You go through this intense period ol
production where you‘re not talking to anyone except each other. and then you switch to not doing any production httt all you‘re doing is talking. It‘s hard to get hack to relating to people.
Mark Borchardt: Meeting people. there‘s a lot ol
redundancy and recidivism. man. htit everyone once in a while you can trip out. ll people would just sit around in their own living room and try working on the great American novel they would actually get somewhere. [Borchardt continues to work on his
40 IHELIST 2010-; 3 A00 2000
‘lt's marvellous to write - what a trip. It's marvellous to shoot — what a trip. It's marvellous to Edit - what a trip.’ Mark Borchardt
Edinburgh leg of their promotional tour
great American movie. Nor/Iiii‘esieriiI. TL: Did you learn lrom each other while
simultaneously working on your own lilms'.’
MB: It wasn’t the techniques. it was their sheer lack ol goolhallism. man. They were so dedicated. and stayed tip so many hours lor days. weeks. months. years. Such a small minuscule percentile ol people would ever do anything like this. Your key word is relentless.
TL: What are the hest moments ol making a lilm‘.’ MB: lt‘s marvellous to write what a trip. It‘s marvellous to shoot what a trip. lt’s marvellous to edit and see it come to lile what a trip.
'l‘hcy're an odd pair. Borchardt and Schank (who sat comatose throughout the interview). loo odd. almost caricatures like Beavis and Butthead. later. during a preview screening at the ('ameo I start to leel stupid: I'm again thinking this lilm is lake. l'll blame my conltision on the admirahle lack ol irony with which Smith and Price treat their subjects. In the lilm. Borchardt and Schank alternately amuse and disturh. hut there’s never any sense that they are heing ridiculed. Borchardt’s aesthetic skills may appear to he on par with lidward D. Wood (you might compare his early shorts. The More The .S't'ul‘lr'l' and I Blair 1]), with Wood‘s turkey Plan ‘1 l-‘mm ()iirei' Spare). htit Smith and Price clearly identily with his lilmmaking tenacity.
Also. il they’re acting. this lotirsome deserve ()scars. On stage alter the screening. they continue to convince. Borchardt. a lew heers hetter. comes into his own showering the audience with home-spun philosophies that verge on loopy evangelism. while Schank sells tapes ol his soundtrack lor the lilm. Songs I Kitntt' (sec liilm soundtracks review ). At last I get it straight in my mind: these guys are the real thing and so is .‘lllH’l'lt'U/l .llm'ie. My suspicion that it might have been lake just made the lilm all the more entertaining and proves that old chesnut: lact is stranger than liction.
American Movie opens at the Cameo Fri 21 Jul. See review, Film soundtracks and Rough cuts, right.
Lights, camera, action . . .
AMERICAN MOVIE CREATORS Chris Smith and Sarah Price (see preview, left) have been hard at work on a new project. otv purports to be a new kind of television, available via the internet. Featuring interactive shows, original series, premieres and day-by-day programming, otv is currently online at 0tv.com and zerotv.com
STEPHEN lR[;/\RS APPEARS at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Thursday 27 July and Edinburgh's Filinhouse on Friday 28 to talk about his new film, High Fidelity tsee ReVIew), adapted by John Cusatk li‘oin Nitk Hornhy's hugely popular novel For a Wider appi‘etiation of Hornhy on film, (heck out Filinhouse dire<tor Ken lngles' introdu( tion to the Fever PM it
st reening on Wednesday 26
LYNNE RAMSAY HAS become the first recipient of lottery money under the new system which sees Scottish Screen administrating. Ramsay has been awarded £500,000 towards the total budget for her follow-up to Ratcatcher, Morvern Cal/ar, which she has adapted from Alan Warner's novel.
l'AKFSHl ’BEAT' KIT/\NO fans rejoite. Follow/mg the retent su((esslu| run of Kitano's latest, Kiku/Iro, the Filinhouse is st reening the little seen making of (i()( uinentaiy Jam Session on Friday 21 and Sunday 23 July The film \Vlll also be shown during the 'Kitano Celebration Day' (Saturday 22) along With the at lt)l'/(lll'(‘( toi's gangster (lassit Sonar/lie, illustrated talks and dis(ussions
CINEWORKS HAS ANNOUNCED five new projects for its 2001 short filmmaking slate: Anwyn Beier's Nightwindows, Becky Brazil‘s Best Man, Adrian J. MacDowell's The Toon Fair, Rene Mohandas’ Wish and Sarah Tripp’s Testatika. Meanwhile, the G-MAC, Glasgow- based Cineworks' 2000 films — Exidore, IAm Boy, Sex And Death, The Important Parts OfA True Story and Guardian Angel, are to be screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival next month. Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s Film & Video Access Centre has made its third Small Wonders award to Abbi Warrilow for her short Bowling Alley.
Cineworks at the Film Fest