Great Documentaries About Filmmaking

by lucaskgm | created - 30 Nov 2016 | updated - 2 months ago | Public

Great documentaries about the art of filmmaking or some specific aspects of it.

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1. Hello Cinema (1995)

75 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

Makhmalbaf puts an advertisement in the papers calling for an open casting for his next movie. However when hundreds of people show up, he decides to make a movie about the casting and the ... See full summary »

Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf | Stars: Shaghayeh Djodat, Behzad Dorani, Feizola Gashghai, Maryam Keyhan

Votes: 1,540

2. They'll Love Me When I'm Dead (2018)

TV-MA | 98 min | Documentary

77 Metascore

In the final fifteen years of the life of legendary director Orson Welles he pins his Hollywood comeback hopes on a film, The Other Side of the Wind, in itself a film about an aging film director trying to finish his last great movie.

Director: Morgan Neville | Stars: Alan Cumming, Peter Bogdanovich, Oja Kodar, Orson Welles

Votes: 3,458

3. Jodorowsky's Dune (2013)

PG-13 | 90 min | Documentary

79 Metascore

The story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky's ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptation of the seminal science fiction novel.

Director: Frank Pavich | Stars: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, H.R. Giger, Chris Foss

Votes: 19,587 | Gross: $0.65M

4. Burden of Dreams (1982)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary

A documentary on the chaotic production of Werner Herzog's epic Fitzcarraldo (1982), showing how the film managed to get made despite problems that would have floored a less obsessively ... See full summary »

Director: Les Blank | Stars: Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards

Votes: 5,822

5. Room 666 (1982 TV Movie)

45 min | Documentary

During the '35th Cannes International Film Festival' (14th-26th May 1982), German director Wim Wenders asked a sample of 15 other international film directors to get, each one at a time, ... See full summary »

Director: Wim Wenders | Stars: Wim Wenders, Michelangelo Antonioni, Maroun Bagdadi, Ana Carolina

Votes: 981

6. Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie? (2001)

104 min | Documentary

Two directors struggle to survive in the movie industry.

Directors: Pedro Costa, Thierry Lounas | Stars: Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub

Votes: 300

7. These Amazing Shadows (2011)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary

Tells the history and importance of The National Film Registry, a roll call of American cinema treasures that reflects the diversity of film, and indeed the American experience itself.

Directors: Paul Mariano, Kurt Norton | Stars: Jeff Adachi, James H. Billington, Robin Blaetz, Brooks Boliek

Votes: 1,537

8. The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (1993)

183 min | Documentary, Biography, History

A documentary about the life and work of Leni Riefenstahl, a German film director most notorious for making the most effective propaganda films for the Nazis.

Director: Ray Müller | Stars: Leni Riefenstahl, Marlene Dietrich, Arnold Fanck, Walter Frentz

Votes: 1,487 | Gross: $0.45M

9. Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004 TV Movie)

R | 120 min | Documentary, Biography, History

85 Metascore

A documentary on the Z Channel, one of the first pay cable stations in the US, and its programming chief, Jerry Harvey. Debuting in 1974, the LA-based channel's eclectic slate of movies ... See full summary »

Director: Xan Cassavetes | Stars: Robert Altman, Vera Carlisle Anderson, C.L. Batten, Jacqueline Bisset

Votes: 1,247

10. Casting By (2012)

TV-14 | 89 min | Documentary

70 Metascore

The surprising, never-before-told tale of the indispensable yet unsung Casting Director - Iconoclasts whose keen eye, exquisite taste and gut instincts redefined Hollywood.

Director: Tom Donahue | Stars: Deborah Aquila, Risa Bramon Garcia, Ellen Chenoweth, Marion Dougherty

Votes: 1,385 | Gross: $0.01M

11. Listen to Me Marlon (2015)

Unrated | 103 min | Documentary, Biography

87 Metascore

A documentary that utilizes hundreds of hours of audio that Marlon Brando recorded over the course of his life to tell the screen legend's story.

Director: Stevan Riley | Stars: Marlon Brando, Stella Adler, Bernardo Bertolucci, Michael Borne

Votes: 6,527 | Gross: $0.43M

12. Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010)

Not Rated | 86 min | Documentary, Biography

71 Metascore

In 2001 Jack Cardiff (1914-2009) became the first director of photography in the history of the Academy Awards to win an Honorary Oscar. But the first time he clasped the famous statuette ... See full summary »

Director: Craig McCall | Stars: Jack Cardiff, Martin Scorsese, Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall

Votes: 1,086 | Gross: $0.02M

13. Sopralluoghi in Palestina per il vangelo secondo Matteo (1965)

54 min | Documentary

While scouting locations for his classic "The Gospel According to St. Matthew", director Pier Paolo Pasolini noticed that filming in the actual site of the story, in Palestine, wouldn't be ... See full summary »

Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini | Stars: don Andrea Carraro, Pier Paolo Pasolini

Votes: 213

14. My Best Fiend (1999)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary, Biography

70 Metascore

In the 1950s, an adolescent Werner Herzog was transfixed by a film performance of the young Klaus Kinski. Years later, they would share an apartment where, in an unabated, forty-eight-hour ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, Justo González

Votes: 9,747 | Gross: $0.10M

15. That Moment: Magnolia Diary (2000 Video)

73 min | Documentary, Drama

A very in-depth documentary that follows the very over-worked director Paul Thomas Anderson through a gruelling 80+ days of shooting for the film Magnolia (1999). Very funny behind the ... See full summary »

Director: Mark Rance | Stars: Paul Thomas Anderson, Fiona Apple, William Arnold, Bobby Brewer

Votes: 377

16. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (2003)

TV-14 | 119 min | Documentary

A look at 1970s Hollywood when it was known as New Hollywood, and the director was the star of the movie.

Director: Kenneth Bowser | Stars: Martin Scorsese, Dennis Hopper, Peter Bogdanovich, Sam Peckinpah

Votes: 2,529

17. No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos (2008)

Not Rated | 86 min | Documentary

The lifelong friendship of the great cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond and their impact on American cinema.

Director: James Chressanthis | Stars: Karen Black, Peter Bogdanovich, Sandra Bullock, James L. Carter

Votes: 323

18. Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau (2014)

Not Rated | 97 min | Documentary, Adventure

A behind the scenes chronicle of how clash of vision, bad creative decisions, lack of interest and really bad weather plagued the disastrous production of the infamous The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996).

Director: David Gregory | Stars: Richard Stanley, Kier-La Janisse, Michael Gingold, Graham Humphreys

Votes: 2,907

19. This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)

Unrated | 98 min | Documentary

75 Metascore

Kirby Dick's exposé about the American movie ratings board.

Director: Kirby Dick | Stars: Kirby Dick, Kimberly Peirce, Darren Aronofsky, Atom Egoyan

Votes: 26,928 | Gross: $0.30M

20. And the Oscar Goes To... (2014 TV Movie)

87 min | Documentary, History

The history of the Academy Awards.

Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman | Stars: Anjelica Huston, Billy Crystal, Tom Hanks, Cher

Votes: 1,328

21. Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011)

R | 95 min | Documentary

A documentary on DIY producer/director Roger Corman and his alternative approach to making movies in Hollywood.

Director: Alex Stapleton | Stars: Roger Corman, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Paul W.S. Anderson

Votes: 2,111 | Gross: $0.01M

22. De Palma (2015)

R | 110 min | Documentary, Biography

83 Metascore

A documentary about writer and director Brian De Palma.

Directors: Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow | Star: Brian De Palma

Votes: 4,288 | Gross: $0.16M

23. Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2001)

Not Rated | 142 min | Documentary, Biography

The career and life of Stanley Kubrick is explored through pictures, clips from his films, his old home movies, comments from his colleagues and a narration by Tom Cruise.

Director: Jan Harlan | Stars: Katharina Kubrick, Malcolm McDowell, Stanley Kubrick, Barbara Kroner

Votes: 9,523

24. Century of Cinema (1995–1998)
Episode: A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995)

225 min | Documentary

Martin Scorsese describes his initial and growing obsession with films from the 1940s and 50s as the art form developed and grew with clips from classics and cult classics.

Directors: Martin Scorsese, Michael Henry Wilson | Stars: Martin Scorsese, Allison Anders, Kathryn Bigelow, Francis Ford Coppola

Votes: 4,475

25. The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)

R | 93 min | Documentary, Biography

75 Metascore

Documentary about legendary Paramount producer Robert Evans (the film shares the same name as Evans's famous 1994 autobiography).

Directors: Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen | Stars: Robert Evans, Eddie Albert, Peter Bart, Charlie Bluhdorn

Votes: 6,695 | Gross: $1.43M

26. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991)

R | 96 min | Documentary

Documentary that chronicles how Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) was plagued by extraordinary script, shooting, budget, and casting problems--nearly destroying the life and career of the celebrated director.

Directors: Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper, Eleanor Coppola | Stars: Dennis Hopper, Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, George Lucas

Votes: 17,326 | Gross: $1.32M

27. A Decade Under the Influence (2003)

R | 138 min | Documentary

67 Metascore

A documentary examining the decade of the 1970s as a turning point in American cinema. Some of today's best filmmakers interview the influential directors of that time.

Directors: Ted Demme, Richard LaGravenese | Stars: Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin, Robert Altman, John G. Avildsen

Votes: 2,433 | Gross: $0.03M

28. The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011)

Not Rated | 60 min | Documentary, History

A comprehensive history of the medium and art of motion pictures.

Stars: Mark Cousins, Juan Diego Botto, Aleksandr Sokurov, Norman Lloyd

Votes: 3,698

29. Visions of Light (1992)

92 min | Documentary, History

Cameramen and women discuss the craft and art of cinematography and of the "DP" (the director of photography), illustrating their points with clips from 100 films, from Birth of a Nation to... See full summary »

Directors: Arnold Glassman, Todd McCarthy, Stuart Samuels | Stars: Conrad L. Hall, John Bailey, Vilmos Zsigmond, Charles Lang

Votes: 2,917 | Gross: $0.80M

30. Side by Side (2012)

Not Rated | 99 min | Documentary

82 Metascore

The documentary investigates the history, process and workflow of both digital and photochemical film creation.

Director: Christopher Kenneally | Stars: Derek Ambrosi, Michael Ballhaus, Andrzej Bartkowiak, Dion Beebe

Votes: 12,627 | Gross: $0.03M

31. Lost in La Mancha (2002)

R | 89 min | Documentary

74 Metascore

Terry Gilliam's doomed attempt to get his film, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018), off the ground.

Directors: Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe | Stars: Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp, Jeff Bridges, Tony Grisoni

Votes: 10,815 | Gross: $0.73M

33. Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015)

PG-13 | 79 min | Documentary

79 Metascore

Filmmakers discuss how Francois Truffaut's 1966 book "Cinema According to Hitchcock" influenced their work.

Director: Kent Jones | Stars: Mathieu Amalric, Wes Anderson, Peter Bogdanovich, David Fincher

Votes: 5,172 | Gross: $0.30M

34. Life Itself (2014)

R | 121 min | Documentary, Biography

87 Metascore

The life and career of the renowned film critic and social commentator, Roger Ebert.

Director: Steve James | Stars: Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Gene Siskel, Martin Scorsese

Votes: 14,295 | Gross: $0.81M

35. Lightning Over Water (1980)

91 min | Documentary

Director Nicholas Ray is eager to complete a final film before his imminent death from cancer. Wim Wenders is working on his own film Hammett (1982) in Hollywood, but flies to New York to ... See full summary »

Directors: Nicholas Ray, Wim Wenders | Stars: Gerry Bamman, Ronee Blakley, Pierre Cottrell, Stefan Czapsky

Votes: 1,146

36. Spielberg (2017 TV Movie)

TV-MA | 147 min | Documentary, Biography

A documentary on the life and career of one of the most influential film directors of all time, Steven Spielberg.

Director: Susan Lacy | Stars: Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Richard Dreyfuss, Bill Butler

Votes: 5,314

37. Eraserhead Stories (2001 Video)

85 min | Documentary

The enduring hope that humanity may or may not persevere. A tale of love and abandonment.

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Catherine E. Coulson, David Lynch, Jack Nance

Votes: 375

38. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)

TV-MA | 94 min | Documentary

77 Metascore

A behind-the-scenes look at how Jim Carrey adopted the persona of idiosyncratic comedian Andy Kaufman on the set of Man on the Moon (1999).

Director: Chris Smith | Stars: Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Milos Forman, Peter Bonerz

Votes: 20,235

39. Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014)

R | 106 min | Documentary, Biography, History

The history of the independent film company, The Cannon Film Group, Inc..

Director: Mark Hartley | Stars: Sam Firstenberg, David Paulsen, Luigi Cozzi, Menahem Golan

Votes: 4,763

40. Score: A Film Music Documentary (2016)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary, Music

67 Metascore

A look at the cinematic art of the film musical score, and the artists who create them.

Director: Matt Schrader | Stars: Marco Beltrami, Jon Burlingame, Leonard Maltin, Bill Field

Votes: 3,448 | Gross: $0.10M

41. Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater (2013)

Not Rated | 70 min | Documentary, Biography

71 Metascore

In 1985, filmmaker Richard Linklater began a film screening society in Austin, Texas, that aimed to show classic art-house and experimental films to a budding community of cinephiles and ... See full summary »

Director: Gabe Klinger | Stars: Sandra Adair, James Benning, Richard Linklater

Votes: 142

42. Best Worst Movie (2009)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

61 Metascore

A look at the making of the film Troll 2 (1990) and its journey from being crowned the "worst film of all time" to a cherished cult classic.

Director: Michael Paul Stephenson | Stars: George Hardy, Lily Hardy, Pita Ray, Micki Knox

Votes: 7,350 | Gross: $0.10M

43. Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (2011)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, Biography

The life and work of the renowned film visual effects artist and producer.

Director: Gilles Penso | Stars: Ray Harryhausen, Peter Jackson, Terry Gilliam, Guillermo del Toro

Votes: 1,121

44. 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017)

Not Rated | 91 min | Documentary

74 Metascore

An unprecedented look at the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), the "man behind the curtain", and the screen murder that profoundly changed the course of world cinema.

Director: Alexandre O. Philippe | Stars: Marli Renfro, Alfred Hitchcock, Tere Carrubba, Alan Barnette

Votes: 2,570 | Gross: $0.04M

45. Five Came Back (2017)

TV-14 | 60 min | Documentary, Biography, History

The wartime contributions of five prominent Hollywood film directors during World War II are profiled.

Stars: Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo del Toro, Paul Greengrass, Lawrence Kasdan

Votes: 3,035

46. Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (2015)

94 min | Documentary, Biography

7.9