As a critic I’ve seen a lot of films and for better or worse I’ve often wondered how they got made. The film could be a simple one-handed drama about a person dealing with their own personal crisis, or it could be an extremely over the top sci fi action film which really has no right being made on such a low budget.
Clapboard Jungle: Surviving the Independent Film Business attempts to answer this question, aiming to tell the audience what works, what doesn’t and how anybody could be crazy enough to want to make filmmaking their career. Clapboard Jungle doesn’t just talk about the independent film industry though, as it’s directed by Justin McConnell.
McConnell in his own rights is a film director and whereas the documentary details every aspect of the industry, it also tells of McConnell’s personal dreams as a filmmaker where he hopes to bring his own film to a wider audience. A film optimistically entitled Lifechanger.
Talking to many industry experts such as founder of Troma, Lloyd Kaufman, producers, directors including Uwe Boll and Guillermo del Toro and posthumous interviews with cult actors such as Sid Haig and Dick Miller, Clapboard Jungle tells its audience that making a film is heaven, selling it is hell.
Like the budget of many of McConnell’s own productions, Clapboard Jungle is also similarly low, often with McConnell filming himself talking to camera in his office. However, this kind of honesty that it’s far from glamorous may just be the wake-up call budding Hitchcocks need to realise that they may not necessarily have what it takes.
Although, as McConnell’s story progresses and the interviewees all talk about the things that need to happen in production, screenwriting and shooting, little by little Lifechanger soon starts to live up to McConnell’s dreams. Being very honest about himself when he says he lives and breathes cinema to the point where if it didn’t exist, he’d be a husk of a man (can relate), it’s really nice to see a filmmaker succeed at bringing his passion to life and having it so well received.
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