As November comes to a close, the holiday season is officially upon us. Alongside the decadent meals and retail shopping absurdity, most of us have a few extra days off to lounge around in our pajamas and watch movies. If you're like me, however, the process of figuring out what to watch is way more daunting than it should be. For that reason, I've compiled a list of 10 excellent films about filmmaking, all of which are currently available on Netflix Instant. Now that I've taken all of the guesswork out of figuring out what to watch, grab some hot cocoa (or spiked egg nog), throw on your Snuggie, and settle in for two days worth of awesome filmmaking movies.
Click on the titles to be taken to that film on Netflix:
Side By Side
We've talked about Keanu Reaves' Side By Side a couple of different times here at No Film School. Through juxtaposing interviews with today's leading filmmakers with a fascinating history of image-capture technology, Side By Side provides a holistic and balanced look at the film vs. digital debate. While it doesn't necessarily provide any definite answers, it does ask all of the right questions, and it leaves the viewer with all of the necessary information to create their own answer. This one's a real must-watch.
Video + Photo Mojo: TED Talks
Seriously, who doesn't love TED Talks? These 20-ish minute presentations from some of the more profound thinkers of our time always leave the viewer with something to think about. This roundup of video/photo-centric TED Talks is no different. Featuring filmmakers such as James Cameron and Jeff Skoll (and many more), this collection of talks has something for every image-making enthusiast.
This understated little documentary provides a strikingly unique look at what makes some of the most influential directors in independent world cinema tick. Featuring interviews with legendary filmmakers such as David Lynch, Richard Linklater, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Catherine Breillat, Great Directors provides a peak at the personal histories and filmmaking philosophies of some of today's (and yesteryear's) most prominent and unique filmmakers.
America in Primetime
If you're like me, and you absolutely love the plethora of quality television programming that has made its way to the airwaves over the past decade, then you will love America In Primetine, an epic 4-part documentary that explores 4 different over-arching concepts that are prevalent in most of today's shows. It's extremely well done, and it features all of the major television juggernauts that one would expect in a documentary about television's golden age.
Tales from the Script
Tales from the Script takes a first hand-look at the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of being a Hollywood screenwriter. This documentary absolutely excels for the reason that it doesn't sugar-coat anything about being a screenwriter. It tells it like it is. Definitely a must-watch for all aspiring screenwriters.
Light Keeps Me Company
Sven Nykvist is one of the greatest, if not the single greatest, cinematographers of all time. Through his work with legendary directors such as Ingmar Bergman, Woody Allen, and Andrei Tarkovsky, Nykvist was able to inspire the world through his immaculate use of light and shadow. Light Keeps Me Company, which is directed by Nykvist's son, takes a quiet and introspective look at the life and career of this fascinating man and his art. Definitely check this one out if you're an aspiring cinematographer.
The Story of Film: An Odyssey
There are all sorts of films and series about the history of film. However, they're oftentimes focused solely on the history of popular American cinema, rather than the history of cinema from a world perspective. That's where The Story of Film: An Odyssey succeeds. It takes a holistic approach and provides a much broader look at film history. It's an extremely lengthy, but entertaining and educational watch.
Woody Allen: A Documentary
Whether you love or hate Woody Allen, it's hard to argue with the fact that he's had one of the most prolific filmmaking careers imaginable. It's also hard to argue with the fact that he's kind of a unique guy. Woody Allen: A Documentary gives us a lengthy look at the life and career of one of cinema's loudest and most constant voices. Even folks who aren't Allen fans will likely be entertained as this one.
These Amazing Shadows
These Amazing Shadows not only provides a fantastic look at the history of the National Film Registry, but also a first hand look at the process and importance of film preservation and archival. If there was ever case for the continued use of film as an archival medium, it can be seen this film.
No Subtitles Necessary
This delightful film documents the lives and careers of esteemed Hungarian cinematographers Lazlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond. These two guys singlehandedly pioneered the look of the American New Wave and left an indelible mark on the film industry as a whole. Also, this might be the best cinematography-themed bromance documentary film ever made. Seriously, I can't recommend this one enough.
What do you guys think about these films? What are some of your favorite films about filmmaking, and where can we watch them? Let us know down in the comments!
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nice list..I'm in film school..but keanu reeves…talking about film vs digital…does he even know how to act..?
in Hollywood from a Producer's perspective…film is the same budget wise with digital (for broadcast…BOARDWALK EMPIRE…BREAKING BAD…..and movies…the secret life of Walter Mitty
The Talent…actors….(keanu??)..actresses look great on film…..digital so so with lines appearing on their faces..that you wonder how it got there…and expensive to fix
Everything is being projected on DCP now…and a movie shot on film looks stunning on a DCP better than any print….digital is ok but worse than when it was projected on a print
Archiving work….if you shoot on film you save this expense...
November 26, 2013 at 9:42AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Its a pretty good doc with some fantastic film makers talking about their impression of the medium, that alone should be worth venture. Also, maybe you could put a few proper sentences and grammars together, English isn't my first language but I still try haha!
Also I dont know what his acting has to do with the doc's credibility.
November 26, 2013 at 10:39AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
we spent the last two months on film sets and watching films….so my Professor winced when he heard this actor's name…we are looking at this site in class…sorry if you like Keanu..he's okay I know he's acted in a lot of films…
November 26, 2013 at 11:31AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I hope you don't write your scripts like this at film school
November 26, 2013 at 12:01PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
"Also I dont know what his acting has to do with the doc’s credibility."
there is a hierarchy. :D and actor can´t be a thinker the same happens with directors that try to go into more academic fields. Like the amazing book from Paul Verhoeven wrote about the historical jesus (he was researching for a movie, but end up writing one of the best books about the historical jesus´ possible existence). But as people says, it´s impossible a man that directed robocop, total recall, showgirls to LEARN anything beyond his trade. The same with mr.Reeves. How dare him go directing fiction and producing documentaries! He´s just a dude in a bogus journey in time! :D
November 27, 2013 at 12:20PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
It's actually a very good documentary, as he's only there ro ask questions, understand, without telling you what to think. I reakky liked it. Ans he's not such a bad actor...
November 26, 2013 at 11:05AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
And if it was Will Smith, would he not be able to talk about film vs digital because he's black? These kinds of comments are silly... One simply has no bearing on the other.
November 26, 2013 at 11:08AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Fine, you don't like his acting, but he's made an excellent documentary.Typical filmschool student attitude.
November 26, 2013 at 12:31PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Johnny Utah is gonna mess you up, one day. Little hand means it's time to rock and roll.
It's actually a fantastic doc, kind of a must see. You might wanna shake out the pedantic before you graduate.
November 26, 2013 at 1:31PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
You're delusional dude. Typical film school snob attitude, and not the type of attitude I'd want next to me while I'm or even AC'ing. You judge him based on whether you agree with his acting talent, based on a movie of his you haven't even seen. People like you are the ones who roll into a set knowing everything, but haven't worked on anything. Mr. Keanu Reeves on the other hand has worked in the industry a lot longer than, while being a part of a films that have grossed well over $3.5Billion at the box office alone.
The fact that he is now at a capacity as an artist to raise money and tell stories to a wide audience is a dream many of us wish to one accomplish, no? I mean heck has anyone not seen Man of Tai Chi? By far one of the better movies I've seen in a long time. Most actors who've been in the game as long as he has end up being some of greatest directors in films short history. But you sir, with that attitude and frame of thought will most likely not share in that success. I hope to not see you on a film set one day, well at least not in the Camera Department. Happy Travels.
November 26, 2013 at 8:15PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Well said Jorge. I think 'know-it-all' explains it all.
November 27, 2013 at 12:47AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
"I mean heck has anyone not seen Man of Tai Chi? By far one of the better movies I’ve seen in a long time. "
Yeah! It´s an amazing little fight movie.
It´s in the spirit of 70's kung fu movies, but with a healthy "artsy" mood. Also I´ve being practicing chinese arts, thay-yang lung tao, taiji, small universe meditation and spring forest qigong for a loooong time, and I can guarantee that all the talk about chi between tiger and his master is spot on. And it´s hard to see a good portrait of a very closed culture (taoism) in films as it is in this one. Some other moments it´s easy to see how the movie makers also got that jing is electrochemical energy and information in the body, chi is electromagnetic potential in the cells mixed with ultrasound made at bone marrow and shen is the biophotons in coherence in the body cells (called 10000 bodily eyes in physiological alchemy) affecting it inside and outside. And the movie shows this concepts silently in the moments between master and disciple training without a word, just with actions! It´s harder to show without telling things with words directly.
Also it´s fun that the good guy is daoist and the bad guy is Buddhist! :D There is a cultural rivalry between daoists and buddhists that goes back to when the blue eyes devil - Bodhidharma - started mixing daoists and buddhists practices and concepts at shaolin.
I´ve seen people attacking the movie for the 'unbelievable' fight scenes :D, but I can guarantee that with dedication you can take hits in the throat and groin with easy, as happens in some fight scenes in the movie - iron shirt qigong is one of the techniques that teaches how to take and dissipate the energy when you got hit! So for me it´s not just a movie that Keanu Reeves directed, it´s a respectful praising of hong kong kungfu flicks and also a good way to transpose the taoist alchemical culture into cinema.
It´s a small masterpiece for me this movie mr.revees directed, it even made me think that he may be learning the crazy physiological taoist alchemy stuff in hong kong too! :) well, this would explain his slow aging process! :P
BTW, I´ve read some articles in the past with acting coaches praising his cool, minimalist way of acting. Tastes are diverse and most of time divergent. ;)
November 27, 2013 at 12:08PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Thank you! I'm at film school at the moment and I hate this attitude. I was lucky enough to trainee on a feature partly shot at our university only to have someone else on my course disparage it as 'not a real film' because they thought it wasn't going to be released theatrically.
December 3, 2013 at 2:55AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Keanu Reeves is the best actor alive btw
November 27, 2013 at 10:52AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Keanu Reeves has been in the film biz since before you were in diapers, kid. Watch your tone, son.
November 27, 2013 at 7:58PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
@DIO - Cheap shot on Keanue Reeves. Whether you like his acting or not shouldn't preclude someone who has obviously spent a lot of time on film sets making movies (I would guess far more than you) from exploring a primary topic related to the industry.
If you took the time to watch the documentary he made, you would find he uncovered some very compelling commentary from filmmakers about the evolution of digital filmmaking.
Save us from juvenile posts such as yours ... you added nothing to the conversation.
November 26, 2013 at 10:19AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
No American Movie? Come on.
November 26, 2013 at 10:45AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
GREAT documentary - but it's not currently on Netflix Instant. Watched it recently on Crackle, though.
November 26, 2013 at 10:53AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Thanks! There's a couple that I haven't seen.
And I LOVED "The sotry of film", it's so well done, covering all types of cinema and all countries.
November 26, 2013 at 11:06AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Cool Ted Talk from an old screenwriting professor of mine. It's not for everyone but it is very short and insightful. This guy might have the record for the least expensive film ever screened at Sundance. A good guy to listen to if you want to make films and don't think you have enough gear.
November 26, 2013 at 11:37AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Just watched this. Pretty great quote he carries with him.
November 26, 2013 at 10:42PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I stopped reading when you referred to businessman James Cameron as a film maker.
November 26, 2013 at 12:19PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
November 26, 2013 at 4:30PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Dont forget great documentaries Visions of Light (about cinematography), The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (about editing).
November 26, 2013 at 4:59PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I loved both of them. Do you know any other that i could watch.
November 27, 2013 at 7:27AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Visions of Light is a must-see!
November 27, 2013 at 2:14PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
To save any UK Netflixers the time I've just wasted, we only get the TED talks.
November 27, 2013 at 12:44AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Thank you for the list, i really enjoy watching films about filmmaking. Have found many of then on piratebay, caus i cant watch netflix. I live in Croatia! Any more sugesstions guys?
November 27, 2013 at 7:29AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
"then you will love America In (sic) Primetine"
watch out for those pesky typo's!
P.S. Hire me
November 27, 2013 at 10:15PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I've seen a few of these, I'll have to check out the rest. Great list, thank you.
November 29, 2013 at 3:18PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Keanu also gets major props for being perhaps the most generous actor to his film crews in the industry. Even gave them gifts/bonuses from his share of the film profits.
November 29, 2013 at 4:52PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Best one for me after seeing...ALL of them? POWER OF FILM...an ODYSSEY. Took the producer, narrator...over 10 years to travel the globe; discuss with filmmakers; research...ALL on his own coin. No outside funding.
November 29, 2013 at 4:59PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I'm mid-way through “The Story of Film”. It's a chore, but worth it. The research and footage-curation are tremendous, and I'm certainly learning.
But the narration and filmmaker's own footage are nearly insufferable. If I have to see that ornament crash to the ground in horrible slow-mo one more time, I will murder all that is holy. Also I mimicked the narrator at the dinner table and my wife left me for anyone else.
November 29, 2013 at 8:41PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Valla con dios!
November 29, 2013 at 10:19PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
How does it feel being universally hated?
December 21, 2013 at 7:14PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM
clearly the egg represents geaottisn and the period before a violent birth (of planet earth, or the soon to be new rnc chairperson). keanu represents mara, the buddhist lord of death, who, in his quest to 14-minute boil and consume the egg, rampages against life and resurrection (and the rnc).classic. i dare say it will be you accepting the tiny bald gold man next year.who will play the new rnc chair? mickey rourke? he's so now, and you always liked diner. you told kevin bacon in nyc.
March 18, 2014 at 10:26AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
That's a knowing answer to a difficult question
April 8, 2014 at 6:54AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM