REVIEW: 'Hit Record' (2020), a mockumentary feature by Ethan Cvitanic
Updated: May 28
Hit Record is certainly not the first documentary style movie that deals with the rise of a star nor is it the first mockumentary to do so. However the genre market unlike so many others isn't overly saturated and does allow for some originality and the narrative that Ethan Cvitanic presents with Hit Record is a very intriguing one: High school senior who goes by the popstar name 'Shug' as she aspires to make it in the ever-harsh music industry whilst also wrestling with the fact that her pastor father is disapproving of her career decision, the less-than-conservative dress style and the ultimate struggle that comes with it. Along with the fact that to be a star, one must possess that "star factor" and honey, you don't have it.
What follows is a journey full of hilarity and plenty of cringe but also heartfelt moments of pure humanity. To create a mockumentary is largely similar to creating a more traditional narrative in the sense of attempting to create relatable and three-dimensional characters however presents the challenge of making the audience feel as though these people actually do exist in a real-world setting, almost as if they could be living down the street.
In this sense, Hit Record is extremely successful and every one of the people presented feel absolutely authentic and if one is unaware of the nature of the feature then they could easily be fooled into believing this was a legitimate documentary. The amount of scripted dialogue is unknown to me however there was no point that felt like anybody had memorized lines.
Shug Cvitanic is an awkward delight as she not only attempts to navigate the glamorous but cut-throat industry she so desperately wants to be accepted into but also navigating early adulthood itself. Having to make big decisions and do what she utterly believes is right for the careers that she desires. Cvitanic is backed by her marketing team of an equally delightful cast of diverse characters all representing varying aspects of friendship, support and discontent.
Although don't think that this is merely a behind the scenes look at a person's rise to stardom. At its core, it is a coming-of-age tale of a person coming to terms with themselves and their dreams. Hit Record bounces back and fourth between comedic and dramatic and does so as effortlessly as life itself. It in no way romanticizes the scene and focuses on the far less glamorous aspects of the industry, acting as a social critique and showing the different sides of what it takes to make it and the changes one makes to their own preferences and the sacrifices made in order to be taken seriously or even seen at all.
In a cinematic world often filled with familiar formulas, Hit Record is a film that dares to be different. The mockumentary genre is one that has been picking up steam in recent years as more and more big-budget studios are attempting the idea of creating a more immersive experience that feels as if we are watching through the eyes of somebody there. It is wonderful to see it being embraced perhaps where it can be most effective: in the actual low-budget variety.
WATCH HIT RECORD:
"The creation of 'Hit Record' was the merging of all my favorite things. I love pop music, I love mockumentaries and I love Oklahoma (I grew up there before moving to Los Angeles). The goal of making it was to speak to other artists. Our best work is usually created when we are digging into our own pain, not when we're chasing trends, and I think Shug's experience captures that struggle."
- Ethan Cvitanic (director and co-writer of Hit Record)
Directed by Ethan Cvitanic
Written by Ethan Cvitanic and Shug Cvitanic
Produced by Ethan Cvitanic
Film Editing by Shug Cvitanic
Sound by Michael Schwarz
Daniel Brewer as 'Balla' Listener
Johnny Cameron as Pauly Maccoll
Ethan Cvitanic as Country Rapper
Shug Cvitanic as Shug Cherney
Kylan Durant as Issac Morris
Stacia Holloway as J. Jizzy Victim
Alex Hopper as Dawn Fowler
Samantha Hopper as Shug's Friend
Linton Jackson as Jordan Davis
David Patterson as Geoff Peters
Kallen Pitts as J. Jizzy
Michael Schwrz as Toby Mullins
Stephen Stark as Ryon Williams
Paul Suffridge as Pastor Cherney
Paula Thomas as Darleene Livingston
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