Filmmaking is a complicated, extremely complex art form, and here are 10 highly-rated documentaries that perfectly chronicle the process.
With a lot of movies, sometimes the most interesting thing about them is how they are made, along with the often crazy stories that came from troubled productions.
Though there aren’t many documentaries about movies, there are enough to satisfy just about any cinephile, and many of them cover crazy fan conspiracy theories, films that we canceled mid-production, and some of the biggest movies ever made.
10 Room 237 (6.2)
With The Shining being one of the most ambiguous movies of all time and being full of hidden details placed throughout scenes by Stanley Kubrick, it has left tons of fans of the director speculating the true meaning of the film. Room 237 compiles all of the major theories and are explained by film analysts, with some of them making sense, and others sounding outright absurd.
9 Best Worst Movie (7.3)
This documentary is one of the few that was more popular than its subject. Very few people knew about Troll 2 before the release of Best Worst Movie, but BWM follows the cast of the film years later to get their perspectives on the troubled shoot and chronicles how Troll 2 became a cult phenomenon that affected their lives. There are a lot of insane facts about Troll 2, and Best Worst Movie explains all of them in hilarious detail.
8 Lost In La Mancha (7.3)
In 2018, celebrated director of Brazil and the Monty Python movies Terry Gilliam released The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. However, the director had tried to make the movie decades beforehand with Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, who give their perspectives on the failed project in the documentary.
It’s an amazing look at how films can fail and be halted despite being so far into production. The documentary even features Jeff Bridges as the narrator, so that’s a huge plus!
7 The Shark Is Still Working (7.7)
The Shark Is Still Working is a fascinating look at the 1975 movie Jaws, which was the first-ever summer blockbuster, one of the greatest thrillers of all time, and which spawned a ton of knock-offs. As the crew encountered so many issues on set, the title of the movie is based on actor Richard Dreyfuss repeatedly shouting “The shark is not working!” on a daily basis. All of the actors and the crew return for interviews in the documentary, including Steven Spielberg himself.
6 Life Itself (7.8)
Not to be confused with one of the worst movies of 2018, which Roger Ebert would have undoubtedly hated, the 2014 movie is a documentary about the life of the movie critic and the relationship he had with certain films and the movie viewing experience. The documentary features interviews with filmmakers speaking highly of Ebert, including Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, and Ava DuVernay.
5 The Pixar Story (7.8)
Being one of the biggest and most beloved animation studios in the world due to their narratives that treat children like adults and their emotionally complex stories, The Pixar Story is one huge behind the scenes look at how they make their movies. It also dives deep into the studio’s history, from its inception to all of the animators’ backgrounds, and, of course, John Lasseter’s involvement.
4 American Movie (7.9)
For anybody who is looking into a career in filmmaking, American Movie is the perfect documentary to watch, as it follows amateur filmmaker Mark Borchardt struggling with setbacks any newcomer would have to deal with.
While attempting to make the horror movie Coven, Borchardt was having problems finding financing and had poorly planned the production. The movie has been nominated for a ton of awards, and Roger Ebert even gave it a perfect score.
3 Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (8.1)
After the shooting schedule of Apocalypse Now ballooned from 14 weeks to two years and production was stalled on several occasions, there are literally dozens of crazy behind-the-scenes facts about one of Coppola’s best movies. Luckily enough, Coppola’s wife documented everything that happened over those two years, which became Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, and the documentary is arguably more shocking and entertaining than the war drama itself.
2 Jodorowsky’s Dune (8.1)
For a novel that is so complex and hard to sum up in just one sentence, Dune is a surprisingly hot commodity for the studio. Not only is Dune a cult classic crafted by the genius hands of David Lynch, but it has also been remade into a huge blockbuster movie set for release in the coming months.
However, there was another adaptation of the movie that was bright and colorful and set to be directed by the violently surreal Chilean movie director, Alejandro Jodorowski, but it, unfortunately, didn’t come to fruition. Jodorowski’s Dune interviews the director and features stunning artwork from when he worked on the ill-fated movie.
1 Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner (8.2)
As the movie had a troubled production, bombed at the box office, and has several different versions that currently exist, there are obviously loads of behind the scenes facts about Blade Runner. In fact, there are more than enough for a two-hour documentary, which is why Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner is an insane three and a half hours long. But, the length of the documentary is barely a hindrance to viewers, as it is the highest-rated documentary about a movie on IMDb.
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