It takes a village to make a movie—but when that village is Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, rather than Hollywood, the creative process can go painfully, hilariously, unforgettably awry. Just ask Mark Borchardt, the aspiring filmmaker in question, who in a moment of frustration grouches at his friend and assistant Mike Schank, “This whole thing has turned into a theatrical mockery, you understand that, Mike?” “No,” says Mike sweetly.
Whether Mike ever understands anything that’s happening around him is, admittedly, open to question. But there’s no question that he’s one of the greatest sidekicks in the history of cinematic sidekicks—the bonus being that he’s real, and so is Mark as the dogged hero of this 1999 documentary, which became an instant sensation upon its release and remains a cult favorite today.
For two years, director Chris Smith followed Mark as he overcame obstacle after obstacle to make Coven—the horror flick whose title he insists on pronouncing with a long o—all the while struggling with his family, his finances, and his faith in himself to get the job done for his cast of would-be local thespians. Did he succeed? We won’t spoil the ending—but he certainly succeeded in winning the hearts of underdog-loving filmgoers everywhere, while Smith took home the 1999 Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the People’s Choice Award at DFF22.
Producer: Sarah Price, Chris Smith | Editor: Jun Diaz, Barry Poltermann | Cinematographer: Chris Smith
Cast: Mark Borchardt, Tom Schimmels, Monica Borchardt, Alex Borchardt, Ken Keen