Entertainment
47 voters

The Best Documentaries About Filmmaking

Updated September 8, 2021 452 votes 47 voters 5.4k views86 items

List RulesDocumentaries about filmmaking, filmmakers, and the film industry.

What is the best filmmaking documentary? The best documentary movies about filmmaking offer strong stories, memorable characters, and emotional payoffs that stick with you long after they're over. They focus on a variety of subjects and approach the craft of making movies in both subtle and more overt manners. They come from big studios and independent distributors.

The best documentary movies about filmmaking, like Cameraperson and Hearts of Darkness, have even found themselves nominated for, or winning, awards. In every way, these are some of the most important movies of our time. A lot of these filmmaking docus are available on streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

This list includes documentary films about filmmaking. Vote up the best filmmaking documentary films to make sure they make it to the top of the list. Be sure to check back for new filmmaking docs as they are added to the list upon release.

Photo:
...more
  • 1
    Kirsten Johnson, Michael Moore
    23
    4

    Released2016

    Directed byKirsten Johnson

    Cameraperson is a 2016 autobiographical collage documentary film by director Kirsten Johnson about her life and career as a cinematographer. It relies on footage shot by Johnson across the years in...  more
  • 2
    19
    4

    Released1991

    Directed byEleanor Coppola, George Hickenlooper, Fax Bahr

    Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse is a 1991 documentary film about the production of the 1979 feature film Apocalypse Now....  more
  • 3
    Vanessa Paradis
    11
    2

    Released2002

    Directed byLouis Pepe, Keith Fulton

    Lost in La Mancha is a 2002 documentary film about Terry Gilliam's unfinished film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a film adaptation of the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. It was shot in...  more

    #282 of 482 The Greatest Documentaries of All Time#17 of 19 These Documentaries Took A Hard Left Turn And Left Audiences Shocked And Confused#6 of 18 Documentaries About Movies That Are Better Than The Actual Movies

  • 4
    Mick Jagger, Claudia Cardinale
    13
    6

    Released1982

    Directed byLes Blank

    Burden of Dreams is a feature-length documentary and making-of directed by Les Blank, shot during and about the chaotic production of Werner Herzog's 1982 film Fitzcarraldo, filmed in the jungles of...  more
  • 5
    Mark Borchardt, Mike Schank
    10
    4

    Released1999

    Directed byChris Smith

    American Movie is a 1999 documentary directed by Chris Smith. The film chronicles the real 1996-1997 making of Coven, an independent horror film directed by an independent filmmaker named Mark...  more

    #541 of 675 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars#53 of 135 The Best Movies About Movies#39 of 39 The Best American Movies

  • 6
    Christian Sellers
    9
    4

    Released2009

    Directed byMichael Stephenson

    Most people don't set out to produce a horrible film, so how exactly does it happen? This documentary about 1989's Troll 2 - often referred to as the "worst movie in history" - attempts to answer...  more
  • 7

    Released2008

    Directed byMark Hartley

    Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! is a 2008 Australian documentary film about the Australian New Wave of 1970s and '80s low-budget cinema. The film was written and directed...  more
  • 8
    Darren Aronofsky, Matt Stone
    9
    6

    Released2006

    Directed byKirby Dick

    This Film is Not Yet Rated is a 2006 American documentary film about the Motion Picture Association of America's rating system and its effect on American culture, directed by Kirby Dick and produced...  more
  • 9
    Gerard Damiano
    7
    4

    Released2005

    Directed byFenton Bailey, Randy Barbato

    Inside Deep Throat is a 2005 American documentary film about the 1972 adult film Deep Throat, at the forefront of the Golden Age of Adult Entertainment, and its effects on American society. The film...  more
  • 10
    Peter Bogdanovich, Paul Winfield
    6
    2

    Released1996

    Directed byMichael Epstein, Thomas Lennon

    Orson Welles' movie stirs the ire of publisher William Randolph Hearst, the man who the film was patterned after....  more
  • 11

    Released1965

    Directed byJohn Spotton, Gerald Potterton

    Buster Keaton Rides Again is a 1965 documentary film about the filming of Buster Keaton's film The Railrodder, which was also released in 1965. Although it is a production documentary, this film is...  more
  • 12
    Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust is a 2004 documentary history film directed by Daniel Anker....  more
  • 13
    Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution is a 2006 documentary film written by Nicolas Bertrand and Nader T. Homayoun and directed by Nader T. Homayoun....
  • 14
    Alexander Beyer, Rüdiger Vogler
    6
    5

    Released2010

    Directed byYael Hersonski

    This haunting film about a film examines a classic Nazi propaganda movie used by historians for decades to provide insight into the realities of life in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. The recent...  more
  • 15
    Lars von Trier, Patrick Bauchau
    5
    4

    Released2003

    Directed byLars von Trier, Jørgen Leth

    The Five Obstructions is a Danish film of 2003 by Lars von Trier and Jørgen Leth. The film is a documentary, but incorporates lengthy sections of experimental films produced by the filmmakers. The...  more
  • 16
    Adam Beach, Chris Eyre
    6
    6

    Released2009

    Directed byJeremiah Hayes, Neil Diamond, Catherine Bainbridge

    The portrayal of Native Americans in cinema. / Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond takes an entertaining, insightful, and often humorous look at the Hollywood Indian, exploring the portrayal of North...  more
  • 17
    George A. Romero, Tom Savini
    5
    6

    Released1985

    Directed byRoy Frumkes

    Document of the Dead is a 1979 documentary film by American filmmaker Roy Frumkes that was largely shot during the production of the 1978 film Dawn of the Dead. Originally a 66 minute feature, it has...  more
  • 18
    Audience of One is an award-winning 2007 documentary directed by Michael Jacobs that was premiered on 9 March 2007 at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas....  more
  • 19
    Salma Hayek, George Clooney
    8
    11

    Released1998

    Directed bySarah Kelly

    Full Tilt Boogie is a 1997 documentary directed by Sarah Kelly. It chronicles the production of the 1996 film From Dusk Till Dawn. It features extensive interviews with the cast and crew covering a...  more
  • 20
    Troy Duffy, Jeffrey Baxter
    5
    6

    Released2003

    Directed byTony Montana, Mark Brian Smith

    Overnight is a 2003 American documentary film by Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith. The film details the rise and stumble of filmmaker and musician Troy Duffy, the writer-director of The Boondock...  more
  • 21
    Bérénice Bejo, Romy Schneider
    4
    6

    Released2009

    Directed byRuxandra Medrea, Serge Bromberg

    "The French director Henri-Georges Clouzot is renowned for suspenseful classics such as Le Salaire de la peur (in English, The Wages of Fear) and Diabolique. Now this incredible documentary gives us...  more
  • 22
    Sylvester Stallone, Audrey Hepburn
    4
    6

    Released2010

    Directed byCraig McCall

    Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff is a 2010 documentary film that explores the work of the cinematographer Jack Cardiff. It reviews his work and with the input of many of his...  more
  • 23
    Daryl Hannah, Michael Deeley
    8
    3

    Released2007

    Directed byCharles de Lauzirika

    Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner is a 2007 American documentary film directed by Charles de Lauzirika. The definitive three-and-a-half hour documentary about the troubled creation and enduring...  more
  • 24
    Aesop Rock, Chuck D
    4
    7

    Released2009

    Directed byBenjamin Franzen, Kembrew McLeod

    "Computers, software, and even mobile phones have radically altered our relationship to mass culture and technology—providing consumers with the tools to become producers (or “remixers”) of their...  more
  • 25
    Ewan McGregor, Ashely Judd
    0
    0

    Released2000

    Directed byLizzy Gardiner

    Killing Priscilla is a 2000 Australian documentary film directed by Lizzy Gardiner. The Oscar-winning costume designer and long-standing friend of Stephan Elliott (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) was...  more