On my second or third day visiting Austin’s South by Southwest Film Festival, I was illicitly wandering the Interactive Festival convention floor. Although I had a press pass, it was supposed to be Film Festival exclusive, and technically it didn’t allow me into the Interactive exhibits. As I am naturally allergic to such frivolous distinctions, I breezed right past the limited security at the door. ^ My reward was to bump into Mark Borchardt, star subject of “American Movie,” and director of the indie horror flick “Coven.” Mark was quaffing beer being given away at the convention center bar, as he, being a filmmaker, has a nose for free liquor second only to entertainment journalists. Keeping his company was his girlfriend, Margie, and his best friend/fellow “American Movie” subject, guitarist Mike Schank. ^ Borchardt’s Minnesota lilt, relaxed, genuine personality, and sheer love of film made meeting and interviewing him one of the highlights of the festival. He is a true independent spirit determined to blaze his own trail through the often bottom-line, bottom-feeding world of filmmaking.
Mark, what brings you to Austin? ^ The South by Southwest Film Festival. They called me to be on a panel, then called me back and said “Hey, Man, we wanna play ‘Coven,’ too.” So the panels are fun – you can’t be drinking, probably have some coffee, and all that stuff – but you can still have fun.
How has the release of “American Movie” – you’ve got the DVD packaged with “Coven” – how has that helped your career? ^ Well, it’s changed my life around 180 degrees because once you get known, or somethin’ like that, then it never ends, man. It ain’t like somethin’ that lasted for three months, but it’s been going on now for a number of years. So, I don’t work at a factory no more, I gotta cut down on the drinkin’, but yeah, man, a lotta wild stuff. ^ I was just in a Jet Li movie, the karate dude, like a few weeks ago, I think, man. I’m one of the morgue guys; when you see Jet Li pop up out of the bag, that’s me talkin’ and holding the needle – actually I stabbed myself with that damn needle, and they said, “Naw, man. It’s a sterilized needle.” And then I’m in this other film – that’s why I’m talkin’ to you all burnt out – ’cause we just got done shooting three weeks on this other Hollywood film, man, that I’m in, starrin’ in, actually. A road comedy, man, and that’ll come out probably early next year. And there’s other weird, wild stuff, man. ^ Is this a high flyin’ interview, or are we moderate?
You can say what ever you want. ^ Okay. So, then we gotta start askin’ questions?
Basically, it sounds like your acting career has taken off more than your directing career. But I assume you’re working on another film project, right? ^ Acting is just like working in the factory. You just show up, and act, and then you go home. It’s not very involved at all, except learning the lines. ^ Making a film is a lifelong process. I’ve got two flicks; Jasmin St. Clair, the chick who screwed three hundred dudes in one day, came up to my apartment, says, “I want to be in your next movie,” and I got all f****d up, and started listening to the Head East, “Never Been Any Reason,” off in my own world. But what I can recount is that she agreed to be in the next film, she wanted to do it. So she’s gonna be in my new horror flick, “Witchhunter,” man, so it’ll be really cool. And then “Northwestern,” man, it’ll be really cool. And I’m buying another CP-16 when we get back this week. I was going to shoot it in super 16, it got too complex, so now I got two CP-16’s, I’ll be shootin’ it with that.
You got any kind of funding or distribution agreement for that yet? ^ That’s all bullshit. You don’t need money. But yeah, a lot of legitimate entities and individuals have offered me money. I’ll do that for “Witchhunter,” the horror flick, we’ll all have a lot of fun. “Northwestern” is a personal poem; hell, no, man – that’s gonna be made from the ground up, jack, I ain’t takin’ nobody’s money and havin’ somebody tell me what to do or when to get it done. That’s a personal poem, man, about these dudes partying, and this beautiful-a*s chick in the sticks. Are you kidding? That’s why God put me here.
Are you going to keep all of your friends and family still involved in the process? ^ Yeah (indicates his friends) that’s Mike (Schank) right there, and that’s Margie right there. Yeah, of course, dude – you know, I’m not into this for the film business thing – I wanna make some cool cinema, man. Hell, yeah.
Get the rest of the interview with Mark in LIQUOR, WOMEN, AND PERSONAL POETRY: MARK BORCHARDT OF “AMERICAN MOVIE” (part 2)>>>