The early days of famous musicians and composers have been depicted in some excellent blockbusters over the years. From 8 Mile’s trailer slum days for Eminem, to Walk the Line’s rise to fame for Johnny Cash, to the Brian Wilson biopic mental struggles of the Beach Boys. Each film tells the story of a real-life person and the struggles they overcame to achieve success.
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And it wasn’t an easy road for everyone! Cash, drugs, sex, and reckless behavior that characterize the rock and roll lifestyle can have a devastating effect on those who are fortunate enough to live it. For many of these legends, the end result has been a life of drug and alcohol abuse, being driven to the brink of madness, or even worse – being killed off completely.
When you look at these stars’ origin stories, it’s inspiring to see how they got to where they are and the emotional rollercoaster they had to go through in order to get there.
Not many well-known films have been made about electronic music legends, but even these musicians have equally compelling backstories that predate their music careers in genres like rock and roll, country, and blues. As a result, we’ve compiled a list of the best and most inspiring documentaries about DJ and club culture.
1. Berlin Calling (2008) – IMDb
Berlin Calling, which takes place a few years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, follows a cocaine-addled Techno DJ named Ickarus (Paul Kalkbrenner) as the film’s central stooge. The story revolves around his attempts to sign with one of the city’s most prestigious record labels in order to release his new studio album.
A night of snorting and popping PMA-based ecstasy pills puts Mr. Ickarus in a temporary psychosis after he realizes he’s flown too close to the sun and ends up in a naked state. His masterpiece is delayed as a result, and he is forced to take his audio equipment to the institution to finish it.
We won’t give away any more spoilers, but be warned: this film contains quite a few tense and frightening sequences. It’s an amazing journey from beginning to end.
2. It’s All Gone Pete Tong (2004) – IMDb
A common fear among seasoned DJs is getting Tinnitus or another tinnitus-like condition in addition to playing a shitshow in front of a crowd. Frankie Wilde, an arrogant Ibiza superstar, ends up with both Pete Tong and It’s All Gone Pete Tong in the mockumentary It’s All Gone Pete Tong.
In the years leading up to his midlife musical crisis, he is highly regarded by his wife, drug dealers, friends, and clubbers alike. Frankie, on the other hand, is brought to his knees when tragedy strikes. Soon after a cringe-inducing live performance goes horribly wrong, he sinks into a deep depression, wondering how he will ever finish his residency before the upcoming party season starts up again.
Who knows whether he’ll give up on DJing forever or figure out how to adapt and keep on keeping on.
3. Straight Outta Compton (2015) – IMDb
Taking place in the 1980s in a small town in California, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube are two of the prominent figures depicted in this unvarnished account of the well-known rap group N.W.A. It explores the era of five aspiring musicians who have a common goal of starting a record label.
However, despite their initial success, they face a great deal of financial difficulty while working on their albums. As a result of this, the group becomes tense and eventually disintegrates. As for the rest of the group, Dre goes on to found his own label and continues to work as a full-time producer and turntablist.
N.W.A may finally make a triumphant return after all after rapper Eazy-E approaches his former bandmates with the prospect of a reunion a few years down the road.
With their music, these guys sparked a cultural revolution. And the story is told in this film.
4. Human Traffic (1999) – IMDb
Another enduring cult classic from the early 1990s rave scene in the United Kingdom. A lot of Human Traffic is about a bunch of party-loving pals who are on a mission to get completely wasted. The film explores the dynamics and emotions of the relationships between the characters, including love, jealousy, resentment, empathy, and so on. They all have one thing in common: the desire to get messed up and dance themselves silly.
One of the most iconic scenes in drum and bass history can be found in Danny Dyer’s film, which features a hilarious baby-faced Danny Dyer. When Aphrodite’s DJ (Koop) played ‘Stalker’ in front of a crowd of customers, the entire store started brocking out.
If you’ve ever heard someone in the music industry (specifically in DnB) joke about having “jungle in him,” you now understand what they mean.
5. We Are Your Friends (2015) – IMDb
Unfortunately, we never got around to seeing this film. It looks like the plot revolves around young aspiring Cole Carter (Zac Efron) and his two friends’ attempts to become famous millionaire DJs, based on what we can tell from the trailer.
A big-name artist recognizes him while he’s performing at a party, and invites him to work on a one-hit wonder that will light up dance floors around the world. In the meantime, things get a little complicated when you meet the guy’s girlfriend and instantly fall in love with her.
Will he suffer a heartbreak and thus miss out on the chance to experience life as a superstar? Is there another way to go about this? This one’s outcome will most likely necessitate further communication from you.
6. Weekender (2011) – IMDb
Despite the fact that we liked it a lot, the critics didn’t think much of it. But, eh, what do they really know about anything?
Another rave-themed film is Weekender, which takes place in the early to mid-1990s. When two young Manchester men went from organizing small warehouse parties in London’s underbelly to becoming well-to-do moguls of a rave empire across Europe, the world took notice.
As you might expect, they become addicted to a wide range of substances, including cocaine, acid, vaginas, and money, and have a number of run-ins with the law, as well as problems with gangs and rival promoters.
You’ll love this if you liked Human Traffic and are a general fan of typical rave movies like us!
7. High Fidelity (2000) – IMDb
This John Cusack-Jack Black film about love, heartbreak, and music is one of their best. Two degenerates work in a record store together, and they make feeble attempts to sell records to musically illiterate pantomaths in High Fidelity.
When it comes to Rob Gordon (Cusack), however, the story is more about his search for love after a string of failed relationships.
Rob used to be a nightclub DJ, but he made the decision to give up his music career in favor of working at the store and starting a family. It’s only natural that he feels as though his world has come to an end after he split up with his ex Laura. Will he be able to sort out his priorities and relationships once and for all this time?
Awkward moments abound in this romantic comedy classic, making it a standout among the genre’s canon.
8. Kevin & Perry Go Large (2000) – IMDb
A British comedy about a trip to Ibiza taken by two virginal want tobe DJs. It’s a holiday from hell for them because they have to deal with things like swallowing shit, getting puked on, and having their parents’ chaperones be an absolute eyesore.
This doesn’t stop them from hoping to meet a couple of attractive women and get their one-off record picked up by a renowned club on the island. And it appears that there’s a guy who can help them, but only at great humiliation to himself.
If we’re being honest, they don’t get the attention they hoped for, but it’s still amusing to see the lengths they will go to for it. This is comedy gold that will stand the test of time.
9. Juice (1992) – IMDb
Tupac Shakur himself makes an appearance in this film. Juice tells the story of four childhood friends who rebel and loiter in Harlem, New York. School is skipped by the boys so they can shoplift records, go to the arcade, and hang out at one of the group’s residences.
Once they’ve all decided to go into the criminal underworld with Bishop aka 2Pac, the group begins to fall apart. The group’s turntablist, on the other hand, is hesitant to go along with the new direction. Instead, he’s preoccupied with preparing for a DJ competition in which he plans to participate.
As soon as Bishop shoots a nightclub owner in the head, things start to go downhill quickly. Will his pals be able to bring him back to earth again? Do you think he’ll stay off the rails and cause all kinds of havoc for the crew?
10. Eden (2014) – IMDb
Siblings Mia and Sven Hansen-Love direct this French film. In Eden, we’re transported to the Parisian underground club scene of the late 1990s. Daft Punk nearly became a legendary electronic music duo thanks to two up-and-coming young men (Paul and Stan).
When they first start out, the film shows us how their impressive Garage Disco mashups helped them break into the scene. They meet someone special, have warm relationships with their peers, and everything appears to be going swimmingly. However, after a few years of living a party-driven lifestyle characterized by heavy drug use, their sound has become as stale as they have become.
What changes will they make to their music to make it more contemporary? One way or another, we’ll find out!
There is a cameo appearance by Daft Punk in this film, but it is funny and unconventional… Be on the lookout for these people!
Folks, that’s it for now. Some of these are huge favorites of ours, and we have no doubt you will enjoy many of the same moments. That many of them mention that you can still make a living as an artist these days is really nice. Even so, you’ll still have to put in the time and effort!
Finally, it should be noted that the majority of these tales revolve around being utterly ruined. Not everyone will enjoy them, but this is the lifestyle and demographic for which a DJ will be responsible if they want a career in music. Not to mention meeting new people and developing business relationships with them.
Maybe you should avoid guys with guns or those who try to kidnap your girl like some of these…
I wish you all the best with your marathoning!