I love movies. You love movies. Who doesn’t love movies? But like any creative endeavor, watching movies is fun, MAKING movies is hard work. There are countless stories told of actors and directors with books written and documentaries made. But some of my personal favorite stories go behind the scenes and tackle the nuts and bolts of moviemaking, either focusing on the unsung heroes behind the scenes or the inevitable “hell shoots”.
Here are five documentaries about making movies you can watch now, typically streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime or iTunes. I’ll be sure to link to the best (and safest) source for each.
#5 – Mel Brooks: Make A Noise
This self-narrated biography isn’t about one particular film, but about one particular filmmaker. One of my favorites. Mel tells us about his early days moving from being a comedy writer into making some of the most iconic comedies of all time. He treats us to the ups and downs of filmmaking, from dodging censor’s notes to dealing with difficult stars.
#4 – Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau
Truly a production from hell. A darling of the indie scene bites off a bit more than he can chew while the production is plagued with a laundry list of problems, from location to egos. A truly cringe-worthy documentary where people literally try to escape the production of Dr. Moreau.
#3 – Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse
This should be at the top of every list of must-see documentaries for film lovers. It’s an exhausting look at a production that was also a “hell shoot”. Again, production delays, weather, and actor egos all conspired against the filmmaker. But even with its similarities (tropical location and weather problems, as well as hurricane Brando blowing through) the biggest difference between this and the aforementioned ‘Dr. Moreau’ is that this suffering bore fruit, in a big and revolutionary way.
#2 – This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Definitely not one to watch in mixed company, this is a fascinating look at why movies get (or don’t get) R ratings and the seemingly arbitrary rules and equally arbitrary rule makers that oversee a rating that can sometimes make or break a movie.
#1 – Casting By
This was a little gem that just blew me away. The obvious choice for “making of” documentaries are directors, actors, studios and perhaps producers. But a casting director? This amazing bit of history covers the history of the casting director in Hollywood with particular emphasis on Marion Dougherty and her proteges. an amazing look at working actors making the transition from the studio system in Hollywood to the newfangled medium of television.
Honorable Mention – An Evening With Kevin Smith
A personal favorite, Kevin’s highlight reel of cross country Q&A sessions at college campuses is a tour de force of inside baseball in the film industry. Looking at it as a relative outsider Kevin has a refreshing take on the absurdities he’s had to deal with as an up and coming Hollywood player.