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Clapboard Jungle Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Arrow Films


Directed by Justin McConnell
2020, 98 minutes, Not Yet Rated
DVD/Blu-ray Released on April 12th 2021
Premieres Exclusively Arrow Streaming on April 19th 2021

Chris Alexander
Dave Alexander
Charles Band
Michael Biehn


Following five years in the life of low-budget filmmaker Justin McConnell, this documentary sees the Lifechanger director navigate the highs, lows and pitfalls of independent cinema. McConnell doesn't come alone though, having assembled an impressive roster of talking heads to back him up. From the cult to the A-list (Guillermo del Toro rubbing shoulders with the likes of Uwe Boll?) the gang's all here. His Mom and Dad too.

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Clapboard Jungle is a double-pronged attack: both filmmakers and fans alike should find that this makes for essential viewing. Not only does it deliver a fascinating insight as to the nitty-gritty of low-budget filmmaking, but it's also very instructive. At the very least, it's an exercise in managing one's expectations. Talent, ideas and passion are all fine and well, but it also takes grit, determination and no small amount of luck to make it big in the moviemaking game.

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All of which left this film critic feeling guilty of every mean review and snarky comment I've ever given to a low-budget horror feature – 'deserving' or not. Viewing as a movie fan, Clapboard Jungle delves deep into the less glamorous end of filmmaking - the endless phone calls to producers; the re-writes; the projects that never happen; the cruel critics and baying Twitter mobs. This might be a movie about movies, but its commentary on the spite and vitriol of faceless social media commenters is a message that bears listening to across every walk of modern life.

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To aspiring filmmakers, it's perhaps even more invaluable, if potentially discouraging. McConnell doesn't shy away from the drudgery of the grind, nor the heartache when a project inevitably falls through. Meanwhile, his Lifechanger (“won't change anyone's life, but it's an entertaining diversion all the same” - Joel Harley, writing for Horror DNA. Sorry about that, Justin) serves as the film's backdrop, from initial pitch to the screen.

Clapboard Jungle is niche viewing, but well worth it for anyone with more than a passing interest in indie cinema. A nuts-and-bolts documentary with an interesting throughline, likeable host and great selection of talking heads (Crampton! Biehn! Garris!), it's a solid investment.


Movie: 3 Star Rating Cover
Buy Amazon Uk

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About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer - UK
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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