Review: Clapboard Jungle (FrightFest 2020)

Clapboard Jungle is a new documentary about the life and struggles of today’s indie film-makers, told by & from the perspective of film-maker Justin McConnell (Lifechanger) as we follow his personal film journey and struggles as well as a series of insighful ‘talking heads’ from a variety industry figures including Guillermo Del Toro, Richard Stanley, Barbara Crampton, Paul Schrader, Tom Savini, George A. Romero, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Michael Biehn, Frank Henenlotter & Lloyd Kaufmann.

There is a tendency in the media (and possibly society in general…) to glamourise the world of film-making into some kind of idealised ‘Hollywood’ version which bares little resemblance to the experience of 99% of film-makers and Clapboard Jungle seeks to challenge that perception in what is an incredibly personal story of McConnell’s own film (mis)adventures; the struggles, the successes, the frustration, the perspiration, the desperation and the constant moving of goal-posts.

Whilst this may all seem rather depressing; McConnell still manages to a convey a slither of hope in the passion, joy & drive that keeps him and other film-makers moving always forward. These sections have a very DIY ‘video diary’ style and I felt at times that the film leaned too heavily on McConnell’s narration but ultimately I found myself totally drawn in to his story.

The featured interviews in contrast are more polished and feature a wide range of subjects; from academy-award winner Guillermo Del Toro to Indie icon Lloyd Kaufman but perhaps more interesting and of note for aspiring film-makers will be the lesser know industry people featured such as producers, sales agents, distributors and festival programmers. There is one common thread here; no-one says it is easy and even the most successful film-makers featured talk openly about how much they have to fight to get every single project off the ground. It is crucial that those looking to make a career in the business are exposed to these kind of honest accounts; but the ultimate message of the film is It will be hard, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try’. 

4/5 – A very real and raw look at often harsh realities of the film business for Today’s indie-film-makers.

The film plays as part of FRIGHTFEST Digital Edition; available for ticket holders to view from 1PM BST on August 30th 2020.

Arrow Video FrightFest going virtual in August for digital edition

Sci-fi thriller Peripheral gets UK release

Review: FrightFest – Beneath the Dark Heart of Cinema

Check out details on our upcoming Kevin Smith fandom documentary: KevHeads currently in pre-production.


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