Clapboard Jungle (2020) Arrow Video 12/4/2021
Directed By: Justin McConnell
Starring: Justin McConnell, Sid Haig, Christopher Alexander, Heather Buckley, George Romero
Disclaimer: Arrow Video has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections.
It may sound cliché and corny but, movies really are magic. For me, they have always been there for me in my happiest times as well as my darkest. Through their celluloid heart beat I and many others can escape into a fantasy land and we need this now maybe more than ever. The journey from screenwriting, selling, filming and marketing these films can be a literal hell paved with heartbreak, frustration but, also, ultimately it can be personally rewarding. Its something I make sure I am aware of when I review any film. Because, at the end of the day these people deserve respect no matter what you think of their output. Filmmaker Justin McConnell's film Clapboard Jungle: Surviving the Independent Business (2020) explores the insane process of bringing a film to audiences. The film is told through a personal diary of Justin and his crew as well as heavy hitters like, Mick Garris, Guillermo del Toro, George Romero, Brian Yuzna and Lloyd Kaufman.
As much as I thought I knew about filmmaking and marketing this movie proved that there is always way more to learn. Clapboard is in my humble opinion a total film course on movie making without paying for those expensive courses. The interview subjects offer very no-nonsense and at times very brutal, tough-love advice and, honestly, that is exactly what a new filmmaker needs to hear. People who think they will just grab a camera and make the next big-hit really need the reality check and this film offers it. I love how the film offers invaluable perspectives from both veterans of the industry such as Lloyd Kaufman, David Gregory as well as exciting new talents like Izzy Lee, Jenn Wexler and Steven Kostanski. Ever aspect and step of making films from how to deal with critics to funding to marketing and shooting is all covered and its very eye opening. I think what really was interesting was hearing from what producers are looking for. I dont think I've actually ever seen this perspective on film before. This is great all by itself but I think what brings this film together is the personal touch. Through video diaries (some deeply personal) we see the highs and low's of filmmaker Justin McConnell as he navigates the frustrating business of film. He's not afraid to express how is is feeling about the process and for me, it helped me connect with the film. How can you not root for Justin when he clearly loves what he does and just wants to tell stories?
Clapboard Jungle was, for me, the highlight of last years Fantasia Fest. It seemed like the movie came and went without little fan fare but I think this is a movie that deserves attention.
Picture: Clapboard Jungle was shot on digital therefore looks nice on 1080p. Interviews are clips shown have a nice clarity. This transfer severs highlights how well shot and lit everything.
Sound: Clapboard has 5.1 track. Dialogue comes through nicely as does the score.
Extras: Clapboard Jungle has a wealth of extras. Included is: Three commentaries: Directors, Crew Commentary and Guest Commentary/Panel, Deleted Scenes (w/an option to play with commentary), Extended interviews with Dick Miller, Barbara Crampton etc. This includes a play-all option. Probably one of the coolest things is this features two documentaries Skull World (2013) and Working Class Rock Star (2008). Both bonus features include director commentary. Also included is a collection of short films made by Justin: Check Mate, Sleep Tight, Balance, Ending the Eternal, Open Invitation, None Shall Pass, Eviction, Damned Selfie, Heavy Metal Interrogation Techniques, Cat, Lover, Do You See What I See?, She Haunts Me, Soul Contact. There is a Play-all option for the short films and an option to play with the directors intro/and/or commentary. Rounding out the features is Trailers and photo galley.