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10 Greatest Movies about Making a Movie

10 September 2012 | Features, Film Lists | by David Zou

“When somebody who makes movies for a living — either as an actor, writer, producer or director — lives to be a certain age, you have to admire them. It is an act of courage to make a film — a courage for which you are not prepared in the rest of life. It is very hard and very destructive. But we do it because we love it.” – John Carpenter


10.Ed Wood     dir.Tim Burton

ed wood

Don’t have the confidence to make a movie? Don’t worry,Ed Wood will give you all the confidence you need.Even with his terrible tastes and skills of movie-making,he still managed to make “the best worst movies ever” – Plan 9 from Outer Space,you couldn’t done worse than that.


9.Singin’ in the Rain     dir.Stanley Donan and Gene Kelly

Singin' in the Rain

This greatest musical of all time is also an enjoyable romance comedy about the difficult transformation for big Hollywood studios in the most critical period in cinema history.Movie-making never looks more fun in this all-singing all-dancing classic.


8.You Shoot,I Shoot     dir.Ho-cheung Pang

You Shoot I Shoot

The first word “shoot” means shooting with a gun and the second word “shoot” means shooting with a camera,the story of the movie is about the fictional contract killing business.As one of the funniest Hong Kong comedy after 2000s,director Ho-cheung Pang paid homage to many famous Hollywood gangster movies with his brilliant debut film.


7.Through the Olive Trees     dir.Abbas Kiarostami

Through the Olive Trees

From the start of the movie,when the director talks directly to the camera,we instantly know it’s a movie about making a movie,the movie in the shooting process is its prequel And Life Goes on.This romance story which happens at a movie-making set shows the instinctive sensibility of Abbas Kiarostami  to capture the truth in real life.


6.Man Bites Dog     dir.Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel and Benoit Poelvoorde


One of the most badass mockumentaries ever made,one thing this movie differs from those serial killer movies is that all those killing scenes look so real,and what’s more terrifying is the crew takes part in this so-called killing-for-justice madness,you won’t believe it until you see it.


5.Day for Night     dir.Francois Truffaut


As what Carpenter said,movie making is hard,sometimes finishing a movie is satisfying enough.In the love letter to cinema shot by the most faithful filmmaker Francois Truffaut,everything can go wrong,goes wrong,and it is the passion for cinema that saves the whole project.


4.Boogie Nights     dir.Paul Thomas Anderson

boogie nights

An epic about one of the most controversial business – pornographic movies.”The Master” of our time Paul Thomas Anderson took us to behind-the-scenes of something we can never imagine,a porn star is born and ruined just like many other traditional Hollywood stories.


3.Sunset Boulevard     dir.Billy Wilder

Sunset Boulevard

A dark film-noir about the self-destruction of one of the biggest stars in silent era,completely the opposite tone of Singin’ in the Rain above.The picture is always too small for an ego too large and the close-up she wants in the end will probably never be given.


2.The Player     dir.Robert Altman

The Player

If you’d like to know how Hollywood makes movies,this is the movie you should watch.In this Hollywood encyclopedia movie,director Robert Altman took you into one of the most prestigious producers’ head,when the movie-making process itself became a movie,the fun and thrill of watching it became endless.


1.8 1/2     dir.Federico Fellini


Nobody could describe a director’s crisis in the language of cinema better than Federico Fellini.In this one of the greatest movies of all time,Fellini constantly shifts the plot between the conscious and unconscious world of the confused director Guido,and turned all this movie-making process into a circus play.





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  • Good list. I’m happy to see Man Bites Dog here. The Aviator, the sadly underrated Bowfinger, and The Bad and the Beautiful might make my list, as might Sullivan’s Travels.

    Different kind of movie, but if you haven’t seen Peeping Tom, it might make your list in the future.

    Oh, and Singin’ in the Rain should be much, much higher.

    • Thanks,Steve.Man Bites Dog is such an unique film that it has to be here.Sullivan’s Travels would be a nice addition.

      I have seen Peeping Tom,loved it,I gave it up only because there is already Man Bites Dog here and they are similar in a certain way.

      I agree with you that Singin’ in the Rain should rank higher in terms of the film quality,but in terms of theme relevance,I lowered its ranking a bit.

  • One movie I want to add that I’m sure a lot of people haven’t seen is Living in Oblivion by Tom di Cillo. It stars Steve Buscemi as a filmmaker trying to a small movie as there’s a lot of problems and such including an egomaniacal actor who is rumored to be based on Brad Pitt.

    • Thanks for the addition,Steven,I have heard of Living in Oblivion but never seen it,I would watch anything with Steve Buscemi in it,so,yeah,I will definitely give it a shot.

  • The absence of Contempt/Le Mepris is a tragedy.

    • I have thought of this film,Mike,but like every other Godard films I liked,the story is always something I overlooked,if I watch it again,I might add it into the list.

  • basuperstar

    Would ‘Seven Psychopaths’ make the list if you wrote it today?

  • Iam_Sparticus

    I’ve always thought The Stunt Man was one the best of these types.

  • william jerome sperber