Here are 10 of the best documentaries on the craft of filmmaking, all of which are highly regarded.
The process of making a film, as well as the frequently bizarre anecdotes that emerge from difficult productions, can be the most intriguing part of many films.
Most cinephiles won’t be disappointed by the small number of film-related documentaries available, which cover a wide range of topics, from fan conspiracy theories to films that were shelved in the middle of production to some of cinema’s greatest hits.
10 Room 237 (6.2)
Fans of Stanley Kubrick have been left scratching their heads about the meaning of The Shining, which is one of the most ambiguous movies of all time thanks to Kubrick’s use of hidden information in sequences. Some of the theories put forth by film critics in Room 237 make sense, while others sound completely ludicrous.
9 Best Worst Movie (7.3)
A few films have been more popular than their subjects. Because of this, only a few people were aware of Troll 2 before the publication of Best Worst Movie (BWM), which interviews members of the film’s cast years later to learn about the difficult production and how it affected their personal lives. Troll 2 has a slew of bizarre details, many of which are laid bare in amusing detail by Best Worst Movie.
8 Lost In La Mancha (7.3)
Terry Gilliam, best known for his work on Brazil and Monty Python, directed The Man Who Killed Don Quixote in 2018. As a result, Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis appear in a documentary about the director’s previous attempts to make the film.
A fascinating look at how films can fail and be terminated while being so far along in the process. Even better, Jeff Bridges serves as the narrator for the film.
7 The Shark Is Still Working (7.7)
One of the greatest thrillers of all time, and the inspiration for countless sequels, The Shark Is Still Working takes an in-depth look at 1975’s Jaws. During filming, Richard Dreyfuss continually yelled, “The shark is not functioning!” to the crew, which inspired the film’s title. Interviews with the whole cast and crew will be included in the documentary, as will Steven Spielberg himself.
6 Life Itself (7.8)
Not to be confused with one of the worst 2018 movies, which Roger Ebert would have surely detested, the 2014 film is a documentary about the life of a movie reviewer and his relationship with select films and the movie-viewing experience in general. Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, and Ava DuVernay are among the filmmakers who speak positively about Ebert in the documentary.
5 The Pixar Story (7.8)
The Pixar Story is a comprehensive look into the creative process of the world’s largest and most acclaimed animation studio, which is known for its stories that treat children as adults and have emotionally complex plots. Additionally, the documentary explores the history of the studio, from its inception to the backgrounds of the animators through John Lasseter’s involvement.
4 American Movie (7.9)
Amateur filmmaker Mark Borchardt is featured in American Movie, which follows him as he overcomes adversity as he pursues his dream of becoming a professional film director.
Borchardt had difficulty obtaining finance and badly planned the production of Coven when attempting to make the horror film. The film has been nominated for numerous accolades, including a perfect score from Roger Ebert.
3 Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (8.1)
When Apocalypse Now’s filming timeline grew from 14 weeks to two years and production was often halted, there are literally dozens of strange behind-the-scenes details about one of Coppola’s greatest works. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmakers Apocalypse, a documentary about Coppola and his wife’s experiences over those two years, is probably more startling and interesting than the war drama.
2 Jodorowsky’s Dune (8.1)
Dune is a surprising hot property for the studio considering how difficult it is to sum up in a single line. David Lynch’s Dune is a cult classic, but it is also poised to be recreated into a massive blockbuster movie that will be released in the coming months.
Although a bright and colorful remake was planned with Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowski, who is known for his brutally weird films, it never materialized. Director Jodorowski’s Dune offers an interview with him as well as some of the most beautiful artwork from that project.
1 Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner (8.2)
It’s no surprise that Blade Runner includes so many interesting details regarding its development, box office failure, and various re-imaginings that it’s littered with trivia. More than enough for a two-hour documentary, Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner is three and a half hours in length! In fact, the documentary’s length isn’t a problem for viewers, as it has the greatest IMDb rating for a film documentary of all time.