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Best Behind the Scenes Documentaries, Ranked

Behind the scenes documentaries offer us an insight into the grueling process that goes into making some of the films we know and love. Many films, in fact, would include behind the scenes featurettes with their video or DVD releases, but, of course, as we have largely moved towards using streaming platforms for movie-watching, we are less likely to see these featurettes (as outlined by Business Insider).

Indeed, some movies require a huge deal of effort, particularly with large-scale films like Apocalypse Now. It’s equally important and fascinating for the work behind the scenes to be documented. The process involved in making a film is sometimes more impressive than the end-result itself, and can give you a fuller appreciation of what’s on-screen. Here are the best behind the scenes documentaries, ranked.


7/7 Full Tilt Boogie

Full Tilt Boogie chronicles the filming of From Dusk Till Dawn. It is the first collaboration between Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, filled with interviews and behind the scenes looks at the cast and crew. The film is notable because it chronicles the controversial decision to hire a non-union crew to work on the movie, which was protested.

Related: Best Movies About Real-Life Hollywood Scandals

6/7 Burden of Dreams

Burden of Dreams was released in 1982 and tells the story of Werner Herzog and how he filmed the epic Fitzcarraldo on-location in the jungles of Peru. Understandably, the production was hellish and the unpredictable nature of the filming location proved to be a huge problem. Two plane crashes would ensue, and countless industries would clash among cast and crew. It’s a unique viewing experience that shows how difficult the filming process can be. What’s more, The Guardian called it a “deeply self-conscious” film that surpasses Fitzcarraldo itself.

5/7 The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness offers an insight into Hayao Miyazaki’s personal and professional life, showcasing the magic of Studio Ghibli and the array of animated projects that have come from the studio. The documentary was filmed over the course of two years and offers an insight into the production of two films, The Wind Rises and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. The documentary showcases the amount of work involved in these and the talent the teams possess to bring these stories to life.

Related: Best Docuseries of 2022, So Far

4/7 Making The Shining

Making The Shining was released in the same year as the titular movie itself and examines the difficult process of Stanley Kubrick and how he adapted Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The documentary was directed by Vivian Kubrick, and shows the grueling production process including how Stanley would be indifferent to Shelley Duvall to help her get into character, a decision which has now been criticized widely for how unethical it was and the detrimental effects that it had.

3/7 Lost in La Mancha

Terry Gilliam had difficulty releasing his film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, taking over 30 years to finally get into production and release. During the times he was struggling to have the film made, a documentary named Lost in La Mancha was released in 2002. The documentary highlights the parallels between Quixote’s quest and Gilliam’s own journey to tell it. The film offers a unique perspective, with a behind the scenes documentary being released almost two decades before the actual film in question would see a release.

2/7 Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner

Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner documents the making of Blade Runner, another legendary film that was notoriously difficult to make. Charles de Lauzirika created a three and a half-hour documentary that chronicles the difficulties involved in Ridley Scott’s dystopian movie, showing how hostile production was and the difficulties that can ensue in the production of large-scale movies.

1/7 Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse

Apocalypse Now was released in 1979 and was famous for its cursed production. Director Francis Ford Coppola struggled so much with production-induced stress that he had to re-mortgage his house, and his mental health deteriorated. Drug-use was rampant on set and cast members were difficult, as well as actual wars taking place nearby. The documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse is fascinating, and shows just how difficult and all-consuming the filming process can be.

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