12 thoughts on “Why haven’t you watched American Movie yet?

  1. Here is the link. I can't hear it yet cause I still don't have speakers. I think its stoopid that I have a brand new Dell Optiplex 360, Intel Core 2 with 2 flat screen monitors, one standard size, the other wide screen. (Don't even ask me why I have 2 screens and yes, my mouse curser easily goes from screen to screen. Its magic! I have 2 screens because I'm special. Nobody else in the office has this. I'm special, I tell you)anyway, before I got sidetracked. My last computer had speakers/sound that came out of it. And it was new 6 yrs. ago. This one even has a cd/dvd read/write/burn drive and I have 2 or 3 programs to do that with so WHY NOT THE SPEAKERS! DUMMIES! Ok, that was my rant for the day. Anyway I have a running list of stuff to watch on YouTube because people send me stuff to watch everyday and I have to save it cause I dont' have speakers to hear the sound with and it won't make any sense to just watch pictures because I'm not watching porn. If I was watching porn, I would'nt have to have sound cause I could pretty much deduce by watching; what was going on. But I dont' watch porn. Maybe if Chris were in it, I might watch…..Now the only sounds are the ones in my head and its some cheesy 70's porn-like music…

  2. More Mark Borchardt: (It really is uncanny how much Mark and Chris look alike. I think they were twins separated at birth)

    Remember Mark Borchardt? The Midwestern amateur filmmaker featured in the documentary “American Movie”? He was the tall, lanky dude with the mustache (pictured with his best friend, Mike Schank). I really liked the documentary by Chris Smith about Mark trying to raise the money and make his low-budget short film “Coven”, even if the film itself, well, kinda sucked. But the doc didn’t, and Mark Borchardt’s life was just so utterly fascinating. So what’s he been up to?

    Scott Von Doviak over at Nerve.com wanted to know what Borchardt was up to, too, and set to find out. In short — not much.

    Here’s a passage from Doviak’s article:

    Nine years later, history seems to be repeating itself. On the one hand, things have certainly improved for Borchardt since his days of delivering newspapers and vacuuming crypts. He has an acting career of sorts; you may have seen him as “Skeeter” in The Godfather of Green Bay or “Al the drunk at the bar” in Zombie Island, and he has four roles lined up for 2008, including one in Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever. He’s still hoping to make Northwestern, but in the meantime he’s working on another horror film about an alcoholic writer, this one called Scare Me. And as you may not be surprised to learn, it has been in production for quite some time now.

    It’s actually pretty bloody depressing, but you can read the rest of Borchardt’s ever-in-limbo movie career over at Nerve.com.

    I was hoping it would be a happy ending for Mark and company, but I guess not everything works out the way they do in the movies.

  3. Here is a bio I found on Director: Mark Borchardt from AmericanMovie.com.

    In 1980 at the age of fourteen, Mark Borchardt realized what he had to do. He bought his first movie camera, a Super-8 that barely focused, for forty dollars from a friend down the street. With this came a horror movie titled The More The Scarier, Mark’s first film, which was shot in his backyard and local cemetery. After this, Mark went on to shoot five more shorts while erratically drinking and getting high: The Mad Doctor’s Monster, Rocketship 101, The More The Scarier II, I Blow Up, and a more advanced effort, Let There Be Light. In May of 1984, rather than join a homogenized society and become a zombie, Mark enlisted into the army, drinking away the next three years.

    Once back, Mark completed The More The Scarier III. Then he went on to write theater and film reviews in local free press papers. He also joined the Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum, ascending to Chairman of the Board of the nationwide organization.

    By the end of 1993, Mark realized he wasn’t getting anywhere cinematically, so he started writing Coven in his 1982 Mercury Zephyr with a thermos of coffee at the small plane airport down the street from home. Shooting weekends, Mark filmed a good piece of Coven before it fell apart due to his lack of discipline, drinking, and running out of money. Having self-resolved his alcohol troubles, Mark kept scraping, borrowing, replacing the cast, and reshooting scenes until the film was finally completed.

    E-mail: mark@americanmovie.com

    Mark's top ten horror flicks

    1. Dawn of the Dead
    2. Night of the Living Dead
    3. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
    4. Phantasm
    5. The Shining
    6. The Hills Have Eyes
    7. Rosemary's Baby
    8. Videodrome
    9. The Exorcist
    10. The Tenant

    Mark's top ten films (from the heart)

    1. Dawn of the Dead
    2. Taxi Driver
    3. Close Encounters
    4. Night of the Living Dead
    5. Apocalypse Now
    6. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
    7. Casablanca
    8. Deliverance
    9. Star Wars
    10. Jesus Christ Superstar

  4. Here I found an interesting interview with Mark Borchardt by an independant magazine:


    Wayne Chinsang: So, why are we here, Mark? Why are we meeting again?

    Mark Borchardt: We are here because you were kind enough to give me the premiere issue of tastes like chicken, and when I read your opening statement, that these interviews would be verbatim, I immediately realized the interview would have to be redone. The reason being is that, the vast majority of written interviews are actually articles, and they are very primordial; very sophomoric. They’re basically worthless to get across anything insightful, but they’re great for publicity. I’m very grateful to do them, but realizing that it was a direct interview, I said, "My God. What a great forum to actually try and get something across." And you have a great magazine, an intelligent magazine, and I was not going to waste it with any rambling. See, the point of it is, you don’t really have the energy to say what you want, or you don’t bother to say what you want, because it’s not going to be used anyway. The potential depth of it is meaningless because they’re just going to go for the most trite, surface bits and pieces.

    WC: Pull quotes.

    MB: Absolutely. And always out of context. Always to sensationalize. It’s just a bad deal except for publicity. So, you’re still thankful for all of those articles. But, intellectually, they’re not worth a grain of salt.

    WC: See, I’m of the opinion that interviews should be self-serving for the publication, of course, but it should also be able do the person being interviewed the most justice. When you tear shit apart and take stuff out of context–

    MB: It’s always taken out of context. Or what you say is debased to be more entertaining.

    Vinnie Baggadonuts: I don’t know why that is. I mean, I’m sitting in on this because I’m curious about you as a person. When I interviewed Saul Williams, I know he’s done a lot of great things, but that was my chance to see what that person was like as a human being. I found out that he’s got a very sharp sense of humor, but you don’t get that when you read about him elsewhere. Why do you think people don’t take the opportunity to ask you important questions?

    MB: Well, Wayne just pointed out that publications are self-serving. They need to sell as many copies, and they sensationalize the material to sell more. It’s just simple math. So getting to know a person is completely irrelevant. It’s a hook that you’ve got this person to be interviewed, and that’s all they really need. And the writers just take off from there. All they really need is the name on the cover; what’s being said or done is worthless. Once the magazine is bought, the deed is done.

  5. Park 2 of Mark Borchardt interview:

    WC: Yeah. Well, let’s talk a little bit about the new movie. I know we talked about it the first time, but let’s talk about it like we haven’t.

    MB: Let’s talk about it again, man.

    VB: (laughs) I wasn’t there, so it’ll be new to me.

    MB: This is the alternate universe, man. Let’s go for it.

    WC: (laughs) So, it’s called Scare Me. Why don’t you do the general overview first.

    MB: Sure. Scare Me is about an alcoholic horror writer who has to write this horror novel to get out of debt, but evil forces intervene. That’s the surface narrative, but it’s also about alcoholism and how bad relationships can destroy the work ethic. Everything you do in life should be an educational process to make you happier, more successful, and more physiologically healthy. So, through this film, it’s just getting that idea out. That there are bad elements that you need to consider and eliminate so you can be more successful.

    WC: How did the idea come about?

    MB: Well, drunk writer– that was me. I don’t drink anymore, but the alcoholic writer is a great romantic notion. So, what do I do with an alcoholic writer? Well, what’s an accessible and immediate genre? Horror. Everyone understands horror, just like everyone understands porno. It’s immediate. The interesting thing about horror is that it uses the terrain of the Earth to create an atmosphere, whether it be barren trees or spooky summer trees with a canopy of green. Most films don’t take advantage of atmosphere. They just tell their story. But with horror, there is this realization that the atmosphere plays a great part in getting the story across. And I think that’s great. Sometimes, just in general life, I’ll look at beautiful buildings or streets and roads, and it’s such atmosphere, and it’s such a great character to use in a film. And it just so happens that the genre of horror uses that best.

    VB: Was there a movie that made you realize that, or is that just something you figured out?

    MB: Well, I just dug life. I didn’t watch much TV at all; I never got into that. So I was trying to be aware of life. But probably the most formative film for me was Dawn Of The Dead. [Writer/director] George Romero had worked for years in the commercial industry, so he knew how to edit and shoot. He was an actual filmmaker doing this, not just someone directing. So when you watch Dawn Of The Dead, it has such a great sense of editorial pace and cinematography; the composure and composition are just wonderful, and the music is used perfectly. Also, the rural atmosphere they had in the film was just incredible, man. So that had an incredible impact on me.

    WC: Did you see the new one?

    MB: Absolutely. You see it because it’s part of a cultural event, and you have a history with the film, so you check out the new one.

    WC: Did you like it?

    MB: It’s apples and oranges. It’s like steak and macaroni and cheese. If you have steak every night, you’ll be hungry for that macaroni and cheese after awhile. It’s irrelevant to comment on. In fact, you can probably figure it out just by how I’m answering.

  6. Part 3 of Mark Borchardt interview:

    WC: (laughs) Right. So, with the new film, how did you get work started on it?

    MB: Sometimes you get the ball rolling out of desperation, and that’s not good. What you want to be as a person is proactive. You want to be active and healthy through positive motives. But when you’re backed into a corner and have to fight, that means you still haven’t gotten where you need to be. So maybe Scare Me was another motive out of desperation, like, "Hey, I have to do work here." But once you start doing it, it gains its own velocity, and it’s unstoppable until it’s finished. So, it may have been an act of desperation, but I’m not sure. Maybe it was more proactive. I can’t remember. I started writing it two years ago.

    WC: Are you working with some of the same people you’ve always relied on?

    MB: Just like anything in life, you always have remnants of the past, but the majority is new people. People move on in life and go in different directions. So it’s basically new people with remnants of the past.

    WC: Was it easy to find new people?

    MB: Sure, because we all have our interests. If you run a paper and it’s known, well, then people who are interested in writing, photographing, and so forth are going to be attracted to you. Like hangs out with like.

    WC: One of the things we talked about before was facades. Obviously, you’re Mark, and you’re living in this world trying to express yourself. But then there is also the facade of Mark, which is more of a character. Does that inhibit you in your work, or do you use it to your advantage?

    MB: You have to use it to your advantage. There is nothing you can do about it. You have this erroneous doppelganger walking around, and people who don’t know you perceive you through that. But you use it to your advantage because there’s nothing you can do about it. It doesn’t matter how you arrived at being known. Once you’re known, there is basically nothing you can do about it.

    WC: You told me before that you approached the new film by working on it piecemeal, because there is no such thing as a film budget.

    MB: Exactly. I have a 1985 penny in my pocket, and that is the budget for Scare Me. Now, as you do this, people will obviously want to help, whether it’s economically, or they have some goods they want to give you because they want in on the action. Remember, though, that you have to be the lone individual starting the process. It takes a little bit of questioning, but, ultimately, you need your perseverance, and all of a sudden all of these things will begin to accumulate. Whether it is personnel, equipment… whatever. But you have to be the spark that starts the flame.

    WC: Do you think that then gives way to a project that is no longer just yours, but that it’s everybody’s project now?

    MB: Well, that’s not for me determine. I can say or do whatever I want, and it’s up to you to figure out what the reality of it is. Like, any kind of painting is usually not collective. It’s just a painter. But when you talk about film, you’re talking about numerous people behind and in front of the cameras. So that’s just something you’d have to figure out for yourself.

    WC: Are you a control freak?

    MB: Yeah. In my life, I try to be. And now I understand the reason why. You have to be self-involved in a practical sense, because you can’t have your problems become other people’s problems. Time is so short. Of course, there are people that just go with the flow. I’m not one of them. We’re all different. I have strong desires which, to be a happy and healthy person, I have to see through. So I have to control my destiny in that sense. Some people jump into a car packed with people, while other people would say, "I’ll take my own car." It’s just like doing a film. You’re standing around a broken car, and everyone is saying, "Man, you’re never gonna get this piece of shit working." But when you do get it running, everyone wants a ride.

    WC and VB: (laugh)

    MB: It applies across the board.

  7. Park 4 of Mark Borchardt interview:

    WC: So, with the film, are you happy with where it is right now? Or are you already looking back on what has already been done and wished you would have done it differently?

    MB: I think all six billion of us look back and would like to change things, but, no, I am very happy. I have some very strong people working with me who have done a lot. Of course, there have been disastrous days on the set which I will not forget, because I don’t want to repeat those tragedies again. But, most recently, I had a very great day on set; we got a lot accomplished in a connect the dots professional manner that I’m very proud of. But I don’t forget the disasters, because I will do anything not to repeat them.

    WC: Has there been any interest from other people to help out financially?

    MB: Yes. But it has to be relative reality. There is only so much money you need, and then you have to ask yourself why they want to invest, because we all have motives. So, of course, I have people calling and asking about distribution. But it’s not a finished film, so it may be something they don’t realize it is until they see it. You have to be realistic about what the film actually is and who would actually respond to it. You want to remain in control of your sensible faculties, and keep your feet on the ground. Because it’s your life you’re playing with, man.

    WC: See, that’s what I find ironic about creative types. The end product of a creative person is entertainment.

    MB: That’s not true.

    WC: Well, I think it’s true on a base level. The personal goal of a creator is to make the piece. The end product ends up entertaining people, be it a painting, film, or book. But I think that creators are typically very self-serving. Like, you’re making a film because it’s in you and you want to get it out.

    MB: Right.

    WC: You’re not thinking about how the audience is going to react to it. Just like I make the magazine because it’s in me, but I don’t know how people are going to view the magazine. It’s very weird, because it seems like it’s a very singular thing being created, but the outcome of it is much bigger.

    MB: Sure. What I’m gonna do is, I’m gonna trade in your word "entertain" with the word "stimulate". I don’t read your magazine to be entertained. I read it to be stimulated, and think, "Wow. That’s a different way of thinking." So I find the word "entertain" foolish. Now, if you do some different math and put "entertainment" plus the word "income", I’ll agree with you all the way to the bank, man.

    WC and VB: (laugh)

    WC: Why do you do what you do?

    MB: Because I have to. It’s not a romantic notion. It’s just something I’ve been doing since I was born. It’s the way I think. When you work at some shit-ass job, it’s true death; it’s spiritual death. Because you’re not doing what you want to do. If you hang out with people who think on levels that aren’t your own, it’s spiritual death. You’re worthless. I don’t do it to be an artist. For example, I love where your building is situated here. It’s a beautiful neighborhood, it’s a shady street… I like it. It’s important to me. So, it’s not that I’m trying to impose some genre on myself; it’s my genetics and my experiences. It’s who I am. Maybe I can’t even explain it, you know?

    WC: Yeah. What do you think it is about people like you that realize stuff like that, that is different from everyone else?

  8. Part 5 of Mark Borchardt interview:

    MB: Well, I was raised to think I had to go to a job. But there are six billion of us here, and you don’t know anyone else’s mentality. So what other people do, I could care less. As long as it doesn’t harm anyone else, you can do whatever you want. I don’t care. I don’t sit around and ponder why people think like this if it doesn’t serve any progressive purpose. If I can gain something from a person, I’ll think, "How does he operate like this? What makes him get up in the morning and accomplish such great feats during the day?" Then I want to know more. But if it’s something irrelevant, then I never give it a second thought. You can do what you want, man. As long as you’re happy, I’m happy.

    WC: It’s funny, because there are people that look at what we do, and they just don’t get it.

    MB: Well, that’s the problem. It’s fine to do whatever it is you do. But when you begin to attack other people, then you become a problem. I don’t have a problem with anyone unless they have a problem with me. And, yeah, there are some very hateful, spiteful people. We know that with sexism, racism, and on down the line. Some people just have it in their nature to attack what is different, instead of trying to understand difference and change.

    VB: It’s not easy for you to make a film, and it’s not easy for me to get up and make a painting and hope that somebody is going to want to buy it so I can pay my bills. But for someone who crunches numbers, for example, it’s easy for them to go into an office and do that. Why do you think it is that there is no privilege in that sense for people like us?

    MB: Well, there is. You could go and work for a city newspaper, for example, but they’re not going to let you run free. With an accountant, it’s a very finite process. But your spectrum is wide, because it’s your imagination. But you don’t have the privilege to run free when you’re hired somewhere. So with any situation that is modeled on your own desires, you’re going to have to fight for your lifestyle.

    WC: How do you come up with your stuff? We talked before about how you’re a people watcher. You said that people have told you to become involved in life, instead of just looking in on it.

    MB: If you’re always a participant and never an observer, you’re never going to see anything. You’re so in the muddle of things, you never see things as they are. If you’re doing all the talking, how can you learn anything? I think most filmmakers make movies about movies they’ve seen. That’s true. But there are some that say, "Forget that, man." Of course, I understand you have to learn technique. But I let my material come from what I see and hear. And I think that’s a wonderful frontier.

    WC: So your films are a pastiche of your life?

    MB: You’re writing a scene right now. Sometime in my work, there are going to be interviews like this. But I’ll maybe trade my cup of coffee here for a screwdriver, or put you in different clothes.

    WC: (pointing to Vinnie) Or make him a woman.

    VB: (laughs)

    MB: (laughs) No, no. Maybe a woman in addition. But this is life. We’re living this right now, and it serves as a self-serving interview– it works for you, it works for me– and, obviously, this is going to show up somewhere down the line in some of my work.

    VB: What in life, outside of your work, do you want to do? Are there places you’d like to see, or other things you’d like to accomplish?

  9. Part 6 (and final) of Mark Borchardt interview:

    MB: The individual– your mind– is the final frontier. It’s the greatest gift you’ve ever been given, and it’s who you are. There is nothing beyond the work. When you have the work, you have everything. It’s how you learn to respect people, and then maybe you’ll get respect in return; or maybe you’ll be able to help people, and get help in return. The work is everything. You breathe on a regular basis, therefore you work and think on a regular basis. That’s all you need to concern yourself with, because what you want will bring itself to you.

    WC: So, what’s next for both you and this film? I know you had mentioned that you wanted to finish this film by the end of 2004.

    MB: Yeah. That’s just a product of math. You want to spend a certain amount of days on it, and then you want to move on. Because it then becomes not healthy. You get weak if it drags on, especially if you can do it within a certain period of time. The other thing I do is write, and I take that more seriously than I do film, because you have far more control of your writing. But it’s all equally important, because it’s just being thankful for life. It’s showing that you’re alive. So, where do I go from here? I’m working on a couple books, working on some film concepts that have been with me forever. But days go by so fast, and I just respect each day. It’s wild, man. It’s just really wild.

    WC: Well, Mark, the last question I have for you is, when everything is said and done and you leave this life, what do you want to be known for?

    MB: As would anyone, probably, just to have been a decent person. The only good I could possibly do, if I truly persevered as a person, is to tell people that struggle to stick to their fight, and to stick to their survival. Things will work against you. But if you could enable and help somebody, inspire them, then you’ve done good.

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