Fantasia Festival 2020: Clapboard Jungle (2020)

Clapboard Jungle (2020)

Director: Justin McConnell

Following five years in the life and career of an independent filmmaker, supported by dozens of interviews, posing one question: how does an indie filmmaker survive in the current film business? – IMDB

Independent films might not exactly be on the radar for a lot of normal filmgoers but with the success of more and more of them, there are more people that are interested in looking up more of these low-budget independent films being produced. However, more than what gets to the front of the general public and released and distributed is all the hard work of getting one made. Justin McConnell takes us on his personal and arduous journey of getting a film made in Clapboard Jungle while calling this as a subtitle, Surviving the Independent Film Business.

For those interested in making their own independent film business, this might be a good starting point as McConnell not only shows his experience and the different routes he goes on to look for funding from investors but also interviews a lot of different key people involved in the independent film business from film festival administrators to fellow independent film directors and producers and more including some bigger names like George A. Romero and Guillermo Del Toro. Due to the span of this documentary, a few of these interviewees have already left this world however they did leave some great insight on this topic. The strength in this documentary does mainly go towards these various interviews spanning on the different hurdles that the independent film business brings along from its audience feedback in this current social media landscape and online accessibility addressing the keyboard warriors and their lack of respect. At the same time, also looking at the importance of social connections and the avenues to present a film concept like lookbooks as one example. Its rather educational and eye-opening to hear people in the business give their little insight and advice from their own experiences.

However, to say that McConnell’s journey isn’t interesting would be inaccurate. If anything, his journey proves to be one that might be a warning that perseverance is an important element as well as learning along the way. He starts off with one initial project and ends up creating multiple along the way from short films to getting another entirely different movie funded, Lifechanger (review) to add to his own portfolio. McConnell as the subject might not be such an interesting character to follow but he is representative of the everyday person chasing after a dream/passion but it shows a journey of growth as he expands his horizon by talking about the different avenues to present his project and the know-how from finances to creative elements that go into this process and on the social front such as presenting at the Frontieres Market and more.

Overall, Clapboard Jungle is a decent documentary that highlights the obstacles of being a filmmaker while giving both outside perspective and personal experience as a parallel. Its a rather educational sort of documentary and one that might make people reconsider the path of being a filmmaker or on the other hand, as an audience, how we should offer perspective and opinions on what might have been someone’s life for many years. However, the documentary does go a little in circles of things not going the right way so the beginning drags a little bit before things start moving forward. On a more personal level, perhaps its the fact that I’ve seen Lifechanger and enjoyed it quite a bit that seeing this documentary and McConnell’s journey feels much more fascinating. Especially as press and blogger that cover a few genre festivals throughout the year that show even more how much work has gone behind these projects that we see at these festivals and even more legitimate that its part of this year’s Fantasia Festival 2020.