Clapboard Jungle

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Full Disclosure: I have personally known Justin McConnell since 2012 and I was an Indiegogo contributor for this documentary

Filmmaker Justin McConnell uses his own experiences as a jumping-off point for a discussion on how the independent film business works in . It has been Justin McConnell's dream of breaking into the film business since the age of 15, however, his burgeoning career hit a slump after the death of his creative partner and the less-than-stellar response to his 2011 feature debut The Collapsed. Over the course of a five year period, Justin documents his struggle to get one of his film projects off the ground.

Simply put, Clapboard Jungle is a documentary about how it's probably more difficult today for an independent filmmaker to get their career off the ground than ever before. Justin McConnell uses his own career as the main case study of the documentary, with Clapboard Jungle‘s story progressively evolving to become about McConnell's efforts to make his 2018 film Lifechanger, which had many ups and downs during its production cycle. McConnell's story is supported by a who's who of individuals giving their opinions on the film industry, including Guillermo del Toro, Michael Biehn, George A. Romero, and Dick Miller.

The ultimate goal of Clapboard Jungle is to be a guide for aspiring filmmakers hoping to break into the business and the plan is for the documentary to be expanded from a feature film into an 8 episode educational series. However, even in feature-length form, Clapboard Jungle provides a brutally honest look at how gosh darn hard it is to break into the film industry, from writing a good script to attending markets and finding funding to finally crossing the finish line. The difficulty in making a film can be evidenced by the fact that it took McConnell five years to produce the documentary and it is almost serendipitous that he was able to show the development of his film Lifechanger from the initial conception to its premiere at the 2018 Fantasia Film Festival.

Admittedly it was a bit of risk for Justin McConnell to feature himself as the main subject of Clapboard Jungle since some can view that move as somewhat narcissistic. However, McConnell makes sure to balance the story of the documentary out with the many talking-head interviews, which are almost worth the price of admission in itself. Altogether, Clapboard Jungle is a must-watch for anyone who dreams of someday making movies.

Clapboard Jungle is now available on VOD platforms

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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