Regardless of what I think about the finished product, I am always full of admiration for anyone who manages to make a movie. The effort that filmmaking requires from both a creative and financial standpoint is overwhelming - often requiring a level of dedication that borders on (and sometimes goes beyond) obsession.
Every film has its fair share of irresistible, behind the scenes stories. Many leave us with lingering questions. For example, why did that director make that movie? How was that actor cast in this role? How was that iconic scene created?
As a result, many of these films have inspired gripping documentaries of their own. The best examples of this sub-genre reveal fascinating insights about the filmmaking process and also about the people who work in the movie industry (both in front of and behind the camera).
In addition (for better and, sometimes worse), many of these documentaries offer us a new perspective on an iconic film.
Want to know what it was like shooting Apocalypse Now? Watch Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse. Interested in what it was like to work with Stanley Kubrick? Watch Filmworker. Can’t believe that Werner Herzog actually pulled a steamship up a hill in Fitzcarraldo? Check out Burden Of Dreams.
Even if you have only a passing interest in film, these documentaries (and many others) will stun, entertain and reveal the incredible drama inherent in movie making - in coaxing a vision from imagination to reality.
My documentary 7 series dictates that I select seven movies from each documentary sub-genre. This proved quite a challenge with filmmaking as there are many, many classic docs to choose from.
In the end, I decided to pick a variety of filmmaking documentary styles - from the fascinating (and often shocking) observations of films such as Burden Of Dreams and Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse to the recollections of key figures of cinema including Orson Welles, Brian De Palma, Leon Vitali and Alfred Hitchcock.
Meanwhile, I couldn’t examine the filmmaking documentary sub-genre without including Chris Smith’s American Movie. This entertaining and often deeply poignant film explores the aspirational nature of filmmaking. This is the stuff that dreams are made from.
I would also like to include the following honourable mentions: Lost In La Mancha, Cameraperson, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story Of Cannon Films, Best Worst Movie and The Kid Stays In The Picture.
Do you have any filmmaking documentaries that you would like to recommend? If so, do let us know in the comments section below or over on Twitter. You can find me @500DaysOfFilm.