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Some of the best films about filmmaking

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Like me you love movies. There are so many films out there that cover a huge range of genres and themes there is something for everyone.

Personally, I find the process of how many of these films were made absolutely fascinating. There are many brilliant documentaries out there that cover this (that will be a list for another day), but I thought I would take a look at some movies that look at or involve the filmmaking process in some way.

Again, there are many different aspects to making a film which broadens the scope for this list. Obviously, I am not going to mention all of the films that deal with this subject. These are just some of my favourites and I look forward to hearing about yours in the comments below.

We are lucky enough to live in a world were so many of these films are readily available. Whether it be buying physical copies on DVD and Blu-ray or digital versions via the various streaming services. Then there are the various movie channels on offer in various packages (Vouchercloud have got discount vouchers for Virgin Media that may be of help) that gives you access to thousands of films, so there is always something to watch.

Without further ado, let’s kick things off.

Hooper

If Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jan-Michael Vincent, and Adam West isn’t enough to get you interested in this 1978 action comedy then the fact it is all about those stuntmen and stuntwomen who do incredible things should seal the deal. It’s stunts, a barroom brawl, more stunts, Burt Reynolds being cool and gives us a little insight into the life of a stuntman and more.

Bowfinger

This 1999 comedy direct by Frank Oz stars Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy. Martin plays a down and out filmmaker who tries to get a low budget film made using a huge movie star who doesn’t realise he is actually in the film. As well as being rather funny it gives us a good look at the extremes some people will go through to get a film made, plus the problems they face with the studios, agents and the stars themselves.

Shadow of the Vampire

1922’s Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens by F.W.Murnau is a classic piece of cinema. E. Elias Merhige’s 2000 film takes us behind the scenes of the making of the 1922 film. However, it turns out that actor Max Schreck (played by Willem Dafoe) is actually a vampire. We get to see how the early silent movies were made as well as get a few scares thrown in for good measure.

Get Shorty

Based on Elmore Leonard’s novel of the same name, 1995’s Get Shorty stares John Travolta as a loan shark who ends up in Los Angeles and gets involved in the film business. This focuses more on getting a basic idea turned into a film and shows that sometimes you need a tough-talking gangster to get the right people involved to make it happen. It shows the fickleness of Hollywood and how anything can be cool if the right person is involved.

Hail, Caesar!

“Would that it were so simple.” I wasn’t sure whether to go with this one or Barton Fink as both Coen Brother films deal with filmmaking. Barton Fink is mainly about writing the film, whereas Hail, Caesar covers a huge range of films and behind the scenes shenanigans. The film follows real-life “fixer” Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) working in the Hollywood film industry in the 1950s. While he searches for a missing film star he has to deal with various problems, nosy reporters, and Communists! The film gives a good insight into the old studio system and how, along with the classic movies, there were also many terrible ones made.

Federico Fellini’s 1963 surreal comedy-drama deals with a famous Italian director, played by Marcello Mastroianni, who is suffering from “director’s block.” The film focuses on the enormous pressure that making a film, or creating anything, can put on a person along with the various elements that have to be dealt with to bring something to the big screen. The film is full of strange moments and cool shots that give us a glimpse into the mind of Fellini.

Ed Wood

Ed Wood was a filmmaker who made some terrible films, including Plan 9 From Outer Space. Tim Burton’s 1994 film sees Johnny Depp playing the titular director and we see how someone with a passion for film can get things made, even if they are not very good. It has many scenes showing the production of the various movies and the lengths and lies people will go through to make a film.

Boogie Nights

Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 may not be one of Burt Reynolds’ favourite films, but it takes us on an incredible journey as we follow Mark Wahlberg as he becomes the porn star Dirk Diggler. Along the way we see films getting made, how video changed things, and how fame, fortune and money (or lack of) can change a person. Plus it has an incredible cast – Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Thomas Jane, Alfred Molina, Philip Baker Hall, Heather Graham, and Luis Guzmán.

Singin’ In The Rain

While it is most famous for that scene of Gene Kelly just singin’ in the rain, let us not forget that the focus of the 1952 film is on Hollywood of the 1920’s. In particular, we see the impact that going from silent films to talkies had on the industry. 2011’s The Artist covers similar ground, but it is Singing In The Rain that sticks with me and it is chock full of moments set behind the scenes of making a movie.

Living In Oblivion

Many of us have no doubt had the urge to make a film but never gotten around to it. We always make excuses, but 1995’s Living In Oblivion shows the many problems you can face making a low budget independent film. Steve Buscemi plays the put-upon film director who has to deal with so many different things – difficult actors, shots going out focus, the mic boom being in shot, a lousy catering crew, machinery not working and keeping quiet to record the room tone amongst others. We also get Peter Dinklage with his film debut giving us a brilliant scene during the shooting of a dream sequence.

So that is my list, but what films about filmmaking are on yours.

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