Ignore the entry for the Paris Hilton “comedy” “The Hottie and the Nottie” on Malmberg’s IMDB page. “I was fired from that editing job, but they kept my name on it, ” he says.
Instead he spent four years filming the more lifelike plastic doll creations of Mark Hogancamp, a rural New York man who suffered severe brain injuries after a beating. To recover from memory loss and disabilities, Hogancamp created Marwencol, a miniature WWII-era town with its own detailed storyline, and his vivid photographs turned him into an outsider art sensation.
“I saw Mark’s photographs in Esopus magazine and felt there was something bubbling up underneath,” Malmberg recalls. That proved to be an understatement, so the planned short morphed into a feature produced by his four USC classmates, released by the Cinema Guild and awarded the 2010 SXSW best documentary Grand Jury Award.
“That passion of trying to understand something can really separate documentary from narrative,” says Malmberg, who has no passion to find an agent or work with a big crew. Instead, he’s doing similar investigative filming of a California woman (courtesy of his Aveeno Truer Than Fiction grant and editing gigs) in what may become his second feature.
Our movies, ourselves | Someone to Watch Award: Mike Ott | Producers Award: Anish Savjani | Truer Than Fiction Award: Jeff Malmberg | The Runner-ups