Review of "Clapboard Jungle: Surviving the Independent Film Business”
by The Headless Critic
Clapboard Jungle: Surviving the Independent Film Business – 2020
Production by: Federgreen Entertainment, Unstable Ground
Distribution by: Indiecan Entertainment
Growing up underneath the glow of the screen has spawned generations of aspiring filmmakers. Full Moon, puppet master Charles Band says it best in this film, “Today you can take a camera and go out and shoot and make a movie for no money. Now it may suck and it may not be a good movie but you can actually look at it and project it and it looks pretty damn good and it’s good quality. You can manufacture a disc and put a little wrap on it and go hey, I got a movie. And that works until people have to sit and watch it then that plan usually falls apart.” Clapboard Jungle, title subject to change, doesn’t fall apart.
Following five years in the life of one of those glow inspired filmmakers, Justin McConnell who has been making films since the early 2000’s with only a handful of titles under his belt. With interesting interviews from successful filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro and George Romero, who stilled faced their own struggles to get their films produced even after finding success, to an array of successful independent filmmakers like Lloyd Kaufman, Tom Savini, Uwe Boll, Greg Lamberson, Mick Garris and Larry Cohen as well as recent independent film successes Jenn Wexler, Chad Archibald, Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead and Izzy Lee. Clapboard Jungle covers the full spectrum of independent filmmaking with multiple interviews with actors you’ll recognize, producers and quiet filmmaking legends like Larry Fessenden who’s been making films through the last six decades starting his own production company Glass Eye Pix to have creative freedom and maintain consistent work.
Though the documentary starts covering independent filmmaking its autofocus soon falls on a sweaty guy in oversized shirts with a constant strain of saliva from his top lip to his bottom while he talks and your first impression is, that’s not a guy I want to work with, be around or even talk to really. Then as you walk up to him and talk to him via watching his documentary you find a kind guy, who through success or failure is doing something ninety-nine percent of the population isn’t by not selling out for whatever job will pay the most and instead is literally following his dreams of making films. There’s admiration in that and you’ll see the better side of yourself displayed in Justin McConnell who soon grows to become the underdog you want to see succeed as he struggles to get not only his film ideas into production but his life together while pushing his life’s ambitions off the ground.
As Justin’s projects progress I was pleased to see the film this documentary focuses on was one I’ve not only seen but one that I’ve reviewed Lifechanger and am pleased to say I liked. After knowing the man’s work I was even more enthralled with a documentary involving a film I enjoyed and seeing what happened in order for it to be produced. As a standalone film Clapboard Jungle is an informative insight into independent filmmaking and enjoyable journey through the life of Justin McConnell. I will not only recommend Clapboard Jungle but also recommend you pair your viewing with McConnell’s other work especially Lifechanger to create your very own Project Greenlight layered viewing and enjoy the experience on an even deeper level.
4 out of 5 Headless Critics
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