For as long as I can remember, I have loved documentaries.

My father is to blame for this. Ever since he realised my interests lay in Film and TV, I’d been bombarded with documentary upon documentary about the history of film, as well as documentaries covering niche subjects, like the success of the Carry-On Films… or Michael Palin’s travels around the world…. or the work and life of The Two Ronnies.

While studying Film, my days off were spent one of two ways; sleeping, or watching the Blue Planet boxset.

To cut it short. I have watched a lot of documentaries.

Nowadays, my favourites are those about dinosaurs, conspiracy theories and making movies.

Although based on fact, documentaries allows us to open our eyes up to the possibility of things that we most likely had never thought, dreamt or heard of. And though incredibly easy to watch, there’s a whole-lotta craft behind these little wonders and it isn’t so easy to get right.

You can learn about what it takes to make a Documentary with the Raindance Documentary Foundation Certificated Course, which starts next week, by the way!

The following are a few that have got it spot on. Watch, listen and learn, as these masters tell their stories about how they came to be.

1. The Pixar Story (2007)

You can stop reading here if you like. This documentary alone has enough inspirational juice to set your creative drive alight.

The biographical re-telling of the birth of Pixar Studios, with interviews from Lasseter, Jobs and Catmull, this film is an essential masterclass on how to succeed in life and, more importantly, in film.

The documentary is free to watch on Netflix, or you can pay the price a reduced Tesco meal-deal (£2.50) and watch it in full, on YouTube, here. If you want want to try before you buy, check out the opening parts by clicking on these links: Opening – Part 1 & Opening Part 2

2. Nightmares In Red, White and Blue (2009)

Particularly enjoyable for those “horrifically” inclined, this documentary studies the history of American Horror, with interviews from horror legends, Carpenter, Romero and Corman.

Watch the entire thing by clicking here.

3. Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures (2001)

Narrated by Tom Cruise, this documentary explores Kubrick’s movies, interviewing his former colleagues, family and fellow screen legends Spielberg, Scorsese, Allen, and Pollack, to name a few.

You can view the entire film on Netlix (US) or on Amazon.

Check out the intro to the film below, or by clicking here.

4. Waking Sleeping Beauty (2009)

A look into the art of animation (predominantly during pre-CGI era) this film chronicles the renaissance period of Disney from 1984 to 1994 with interviews from the likes of Spielberg, Burton, Bluth, and Lasseter.

Learn not only about the art, but also the business behind the world of Animation, and how The Lion King became their most successful hand-drawn animated feature ever.

Like, The Pixar Story, you can also watch the entire film on YouTube for the price of a sandwich. 

Check out a great clip from the documentary below, or by clicking here.

5. Indie Game: The Movie (2012)

Enjoyable for everyone creatively inclined, but especially those with interests in the close cousin of Film; Games.

This documentary will show you the true meaning of hard work and determination as you follow a group of indie game developers attempting to make their mark in the industry by creating their own original games and trying to bring them through the various stages of production, development and distribution.

You can purchase the documentary online.

Check out the trailer below, or by clicking here.

6. Visions Of Light (1992) & Side by Side (2012)

These two go together so perfectly well.

Visions Of Light, though perhaps slightly dated now, discusses the craft and art of cinematography and the job of the DOP, with interviews from cinematography greats like Nykvist, Deschanel, and Zsigmond, which regardless of what you shoot in, is a great to watch and learn from.

Side by Side, on the other hand investigates the history, process and workflow of both digital and photochemical filmmaking formats. A fantastic documentation of cinema history and a good look into what the future of cinema could potentially produce, either of these documentaries are sure to get your hands itching for a camera.

Check out the the full Visions Of Light documentary below, or by clicking here.

You can watch Side by Side online on Amazon.

Check out the trailer below, or by clicking here.

7. Best Worst Movie (2009)

A documentary celebrating the best of the worst, if this doesn’t inspire you to make a movie (even if it’s a bad one) then I don’t know what will.

The film follows the story of how Troll 2, crowned the “worst film of all time”, waded it’s way out of the crap and into cult-film status.

Best Worst Movie is available to watch for free on Netflix, or on hulu for those in the US.

Check out the trailer for the documentary by clicking here.

 

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