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

Order on BluRay now from Arrow Video 

Arrow Video announce April releases including Clapboard Jungle

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.

4 thoughts on “Review: Clapboard Jungle (FrightFest 2020)

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