R.I.P.: American Movie’s Mike Schank dies at 56

Mike Schank

Mike Schank, the lovable sidekick to Mark Borchardt’s aspiring filmmaker in the 1999 cult classic documentary American Movie, has died. He was 56.

As reported by the Milwaukee Record–Schank and Borchardt were both good ol’ Wisconsin boys–Mike Schank “passed away early this morning [Thursday] in his mother’s arms.”

Although credited as Friend/Musician in American Movie, Mike Schank was an immediate audience favorite, stealing every scene in the movie with his nonchalant delivery, curious perspectives and hellish scream.

Earlier this year, Mike Schank tweeted (yep, the man was on Twitter, so you missed your chance to join ~300 other followers to get access to his sage wisdom) on the anniversary of his sobriety:

In American Movie, Mike Schank cathartically reflected on his past abuse. “When you play the lottery, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose… But it better than using drugs or alcohol – Because when you use drugs and alcohol, especially drugs, you always lose.”

Mark Borchardt tweeted, “Stay strong forever, Mike…”

Other notable figures in the movie world also sent their condolences:

Chris Smith’s American Movie was a smash at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, taking home the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary (it should have earned an Oscar nod, too). For those who have yet to see it, the documentary follows Mark Borchardt as he struggles to make a short horror film called Coven (pronounced Coven) so he can in turn produce his first feature, Northwestern. The Coven short was a special feature on the American Movie DVD. Northwestern has still yet to be completed.

In addition to appearing in American Movie, Mike Schank (and Borchardt) also appeared as themselves on an episode of Family Guy. He was also a noted musician who got a music credit on American Movie.

Leave your thoughts on the great Mike Schank below.

Source: Milwaukee Record

About the Author

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with JoBlo.com periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.