Top 5 Documentaries About Filmmaking

Top 5 Documentaries About Filmmaking

There’s something illusive about the art of filmmaking, that can only be experienced by producing a film of your own. The next best thing, however, is to watch a film about making a film. These types of movies are the inspiration for many young creators, providing their first look behind the stage and the camera.

These documentaries are about filmmakers of all kinds, from many different styles of work. Some like to command the movie set, while others are more collaborative.

Hearts of Darkness

Hearts of Darkness follows the work of Francis Ford Coppola during the filming of Apocalypse Now. Production was extremely difficult, due to creative problems between  Coppola and the team working on the film. Filming conditions only worsened matters.

Hearts of Darkness is a unique work, showing how easily a creative can get trapped inside their own mind and project, especially when they have too much money to spend and too much creative control over a project.

American Movie

While the first film warns of the dangers of unrestricted control, this film explores the challenges of producing a film with too many obstacles in place. Some are as simple as a lack of funds. The film follows Mark Borchadart: a blue-collar filmmaker trying to produce his dream project titled Northwestern. His plan was to produce a low-budget horror flick, and use the profits to film his own project. What makes the documentary work is the honesty and warmth with which it treats its subject matter.

Lost in La Mancha

There is a whole subcategory of film history that could be dubbed “Greatest Movies Never Made.” This is a documentary about one such film. Lost in La Mancha follows the work of Terry Gilliam, in his efforts to produce a film based on the legend of Don Quixote. Gilliam is infamous for trying to make long, overly-complicated films based on classic literature. The documentary is fascinating, as it shows just how hard producing a film can really be.

Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner

Blade Runner is a classic of the sci fi genre, having inspired the subgenre of cyber punk. The story of its production is fascinating as well, documented by this fine film. Although it lasts more than three hours, there is not a boring moment to it. Dangerous Days doesn’t shy away from discussing the problems on set, some involving star Harrison Ford.

Burden of Dreams

Many of these films deal with the egos of talented directors, and this film tackles perhaps one of the most talented and difficult of all: Werner Herzog. Similar to Hearts of Darkness, Burden of Dreams shows how the events onscreen are inspired by real events throughout production. It depicts the many challenges behind large, creative projects.


Which film will you watch first?