Thursday, 8 April 2021

Clapboard Jungle (2020)


Following its UK premiere at Frightfest last year (and a recent screening at Grimmfest's Easter festival), Justin McConnell's documentary about his efforts to get his independent film projects off the ground gets a Blu-ray release from Arrow Films.

McConnell made LIFECHANGER, which I called a 'strange, original and thoughtful drama' when I reviewed it on here back in 2018. It's certainly worth a watch and here we get the story of the years in McConnell's career leading up to its writing, financing and shooting.

We learn about his decision early in life to want to be a film-maker, his move into short films and then trying to get features made. It's a brutally honest depiction of an individual with a bunch of great ideas (and completed screenplays) under his arm trying and almost always failing to secure any finance for his projects as he travels to Cannes and Berlin and film festivals elsewhere trying to make deals.

This difficulty in getting projects off the ground is echoed by the interviews he conducts with numerous film-makers who have been through the same thing, including Larry Fessenden, Jenn Wexler, Lloyd Kaufman, George Romero and Guillermo del Toro. LIFECHANGER's success provides the documentary with a happy ending but it's still a sobering watch and recommended viewing for anyone who is thinking of a career in the industry.

Arrow's Blu-ray is absolutely packed with extras. All the short films McConnell talks about in the feature are on here (thirteen in total) with commentaries and director introduction. The main feature has two commentary tracks to itself, one with just the director and another with additional crew members.

There's also a whopping five hours of extra interview material with, amongst many others, a hugely impressive list of Barbara Crampton, Charles Band, Brian Trenchard-Smith, Brian Yuzna, Dean Cundey, Dick Miller, Don Mancini, Frank Henenlotter, Gary Sherman, George Mihalka, John McNaughton, Larry Cohen, Paul Schrader, Richard Stanley, Tom Holland, Tom Savini, Sam Firstenberg and Michael Biehn.

You also get McConnell's two documentaries that he talks about, WORKING CLASS ROCK STAR (2008) and SKULL WORLD (2013) both with commentaries, deleted scenes, trailers, stills, easter eggs and a reversible sleeve.

Justin McConnell's CLAPBOARD JUNGLE is out on Blu-ray from Arrow Films on Monday 12th April 2021

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