To talk to Mark Borchardt—even, say, for 10 minutes over the phone—is to talk to an artist whose medium is existence itself. The Milwaukee filmmaker is a singular force of positivity, encouragement, and inspiration. “Hey, have a really good week, my man,” might be a standard farewell for some; in Borchardt’s voice, it’s a life-affirming statement more powerful than any zen truism.
Speaking of mediums, we recently chatted with Borchardt about a medium he occasionally finds himself creating in: music videos.
“Music videos are fascinating. They’re these small films, and there’s a lot of imagination and energy put into them,” he tells us. “I find them infinitely fascinating.”
Over the years, Borchardt has directed music videos for national bands like Bayside and Big D And The Kids Table, as well as Milwaukee and Wisconsin groups like Tapebenders and Tenement. Recently, he completed work on videos for Houston metal band Heavy As Texas, and Milwaukee post-rock outfit Sleepersound.
“I generally come up with the concept,” Borchardt says. “Some people have a relatively rough idea of the concept and we work together, while other bands leave it up to me to entirely conceive of the narrative.”
“You speak with the band, you get a feel for their sensibilities, then you get a feel for the environment that you’re going to shoot in and some of the resources that are available.”
“I do many things,” Borchardt continues. “I do a lot of writing. A lot of writing for people and various entities. I also do a lot of filming. The music videos go right along with it. There’s no plan. It’s part of the tapestry of what I do on a daily basis.”
Borchardt’s recent work includes the documentary The Dundee Project, a role in the episodic comedy Shangri-LA, a number of plays, and a written piece for The Milwaukee Anthology. As for the future, fans will be happy to learn that Borchardt is currently eyeballs-deep in the initial stages of a new feature film project.
“One of the projects I’m working on is a full-length film entitled November,” he says. “It concerns this playwright, this middle-aged woman, encountering someone else, a female poet, that is drawn into her life, and how that affects the dynamics of both their personalities and their work.
“I’ve actually started filming. I couldn’t help myself!”