If you wish to go to the current Fangoria site, you may click the top logo, "Home" or "News" links. Or click here.
This is what stories and films are built
on. This is what fuels the people who make them.
Money. Fame. Power. These may be side
effects of success, but they aren’t what motivate the true artist. They say you
can mix art and business, but I’ve tried it, brother, and no bartender alive
can make that cocktail taste right to me.
The filmmakers I feature here aren’t doing
what they do to one day get rich and live big in Hollywood. They aren’t in it
for Bentleys and a shot at a Kardashian sister. They’re in it because they
dream of doing something great, of making great art. They dream of transcending
themselves and their social expectations. They dream of showing the world, or
maybe just one small segment of it, that they did it; they had a vision, and
they brought it to life. How many of us can say the same?
I’ve just finished watching AMERICAN MOVIE for
the first time in a few years and I’m reminded how much I admire Mark Borchardt.
You see, Mark has big dreams of being a filmmaker. His head is full of visions
of the future where his life is finally in line with his dreams. For all his
big ideas, Mark Borchardt seems to have never really found his place in this
world. On one hand he’s a man who tries to live without compromise, who is
consumed by his artistic vision. On the other hand, he is faced with the
reality of his situation; he’s broke, he’s got no connections in the business,
he’s probably got a drinking problem. He’s in a constant struggle between his
dreams and his circumstances, and most people seem to just wish he’d get a
decent job and give up on all his crazy moviemaking.
Mark had two ambitious projects on the go.
One is a feature called NORTHWESTERN that remains unfinished to this day. The
other is a short film called COVEN which had been in this state of on-again,
off-again production based on Mark’s wild upward and downward swings of
enthusiasm, depression and sobriety, for years. His friends are supportive but
most seem to see him as a bit of a harmless loser and participate in his
schemes mostly just to make Mark happy. They don’t seem to have the same high
hopes Mark has about the future of these films.
People watch AMERICAN MOVIE to laugh at
Mark Borchardt. They see him as a washed up drunk who cleans toilets for a
living, who has to beg his friends and family for the cash to make a movie that
nobody wants to watch. But these people are laughing from the comfort of their
couches. Mark Borchardt is the one person in ten thousand with the nerve to
follow his vision, to get off the couch, to risk his heart and soul on
something that is actually important to him, rather than numbing his mind with
When you’re young, maybe you think success
is a Kardashian on the hood of a Bentley. But you get older, and life kicks you
around for a while, and one day the familiar concepts of success and failure
lose meaning, and you realize that success really means doing anything at all. Giving
form to a dream, and holding it up to the light. Having the courage to reach
beyond just thinking about it and talking about it to actually doing it.
Everything else is the gravy.
Mark Borchardt is a man with a dream that
he is trying to actualize, and AMERICAN MOVIE documents his struggle, mostly
against himself. That’s real to me, that’s what I think most of us can relate
to: the struggle against yourself and the battle for the discipline and
self-mastery required to live the creative life and attempt greatness.
At one point, when Mark is itemizing how
many copies of COVEN he will have to sell on VHS in order to finance
NORTHWESTERN, you realize that this is war for him—the act of creation is
painful to him, but he is driven to finish it. Not for money, not for fame, but
just so that he can look at his dream and look at the people he’s shared his
life with and say he did it, goddamnit. It’s life or death for him; life or
death of the soul, of the person he sees himself as in his heart and the person
he wants his loved ones to remember. You feel terrified that he might fail, because
you realize that Mark’s failure would mean the final stamping out of his
There is a scene where Mark has parked his
car at the airport and he is writing, isolated. He knows how distractions prey
on him—he knows he is weak—so he literally imprisons himself to try to reach
his goal. It’s life or death of the soul time for Mark, and he’s choosing life.
I think a lot of the filmmakers we see in
this space can relate to Mark to some extent or another. I think some of them
may be locked in that life or death battle of the spirit. This is probably one
of the other reasons I want to support them and build something for them, a
place where they are appreciated and understood.
Watching Mark premiere COVEN at his local
theatre is a beautiful moment. No matter what happens in Mark’s life
afterwards, he will always have the memory of laying himself bare before an
audience and saying, “I did it. I’m not worthless. I finished something I
started and I’m proud of that.”
Whatever else we might be able to say about
Mark as a filmmaker, we cannot take that away from him. He endured, he battled
himself to realize his dream, and he won. He’s got a finished film in the can.
What is your dream?
I quit my day job this week. I did it for a
bunch of reasons, but at heart it’s because my day job is drawing me closer to
that death of the spirit and I want to choose life. I want to take a run at
living that dream I’ve had since I was a boy.
I hope you’ll stick around and see what
happens, see if we can’t make something great out of this. See which side wins
out in the end.
PS: The full feature of American Movie is
available legally and free of charge on YouTube:
Bloody Blogs -
Long Live the New Flesh
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY AND BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEWS, CONTESTS, EVENTS AND MORE!
All contents © 2011 Fangoria Entertainment