Fantasia Review: ‘Clapboard Jungle’ takes a personal journey through the indie film business

There’s a romantic image of the indie film scene, of scrappy filmmakers bringing their artistic vision to the screen for the masses to enjoy and breaking all the rules to do so. That image isn’t inaccurate so much as it is only the fun parts. The whole picture includes long days, hard work, and lots of schmoozing and glad-handing.

Justin McConnell has been working within the indie film business in Canada for most of his life and has had some successes and setbacks. Over the course of five years, he documented his journey through the business, revealing just how hard it can be to get to your breakout moment.

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The key takeaway here is that the age of the breakout auteur seems to be over and has been replaced by the age of content. More people than ever make movies and more networks and studios looking to buy them, but the sheer volume of work out there makes it all the more difficult to stand out to viewers and, more importantly, to investors.

McConnell speaks to other indie filmmakers and producers, some well known and some not so much, and they all have one thing in common: they all say the business is a slog. Following McConnell’s personal journey also makes this clear. Does that journey make an interesting documentary, though?

Well, mostly. It’s super interesting to hear perspectives on the business of filmmaking from some incredibly respected genre filmmakers. Guillermo del Toro, Lloyd Kaufman, and George A Romero all make appearances and have a lot to say.

If you’re not into the craft or business of filmmaking, then your mileage will most likely vary as even at only 98 minutes, the film starts to feel on the long side and skirts the line of self-indulgence pretty closely (but to be fair, never quite crosses it).

If you are into the craft or business of filmmaking, this movie is likely an essential one to see, not only for the talking heads but to see how McConnell is finally able to gain some success and how that success opens doors for him.


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