5 Great Cautionary Movies About Making Movies

Buscemi OblivionEveryone loves a movie; and people who make movies love making movies about people making movies. Self referential humor has become a cultural norm.

The humor derived from most of these movies is either about how insane it is to make a movie, or how insane or ridiculous the people are who decide to make a movie.

But if you are an aspiring filmmaker, it’ always helpful to watch movies like this as both educational and entertainment.

1. Living in Oblivion –

This classic indie gem stars Steve Buscemi as an aspiring director with a vision. Of a movie complete with romance, intrigue, and a dream scene with a dwarf played by Peter Dinklage. The movie captures an poorly run indie film set perfectly.

2. State and Main

David Mamet’s movie has an all star cast, including Philip Seymour Hoffman as the screenwriter, who says his movie is about “the quest for purity”. It also stars Alec Baldwin, Sarah Jessica Parker, William H. Macy, and more. The movie is about a Hollywood production coming to a small town, and skewers the realities of that brand of insanity. Actor egos, a philandering leading man, giving away Associate Producer credits for random favors, changing the script because of corporate interests. The movie is a blast, and a little more truth than fiction!

3. Ed Wood

Ed Wood made some of the universally agreed upon worst movies in film history. Bad bad bad. Cross dressing, UFOs hung from strings. Campy shit. However, he did get those movies made. This film by Tim Burton is extremely endearing, featuring great performances by Johnny Depp and Martin Landau as Bela Legosi.

While Wood’s boylike optimism is hilarious, it’s also a good lesson in how you can get a movie shot, no matter how delusional you are, if you believe in yourself.

4. The Player

For all the people reading this blog who really want to work in the business, watch this movie. It’s witty, real, and disturbing. When you decide you want to “work your way up the ranks” in Hollywood, you’re basically subjecting yourself to the world’s most foul college fraternity, and a world where the fun and creativity of storytelling is sucked bone dry. This movie captures that nicely, and has some fun cameos.

5. Lost In La Mancha

You’ve probably never heard of “The Man from La Mancha”, and that’s because it was never completed. The movie was supposed to based on “Don Quixote”, starring Johnny Depp and directed by Terry Giliam. And out of the movies on this list, it’s the only documentary.

The movie shows the series of disasters that canned the movie for good. To me, this movie is a great educational piece of HOW NOT TO MAKE A MOVIE.

All of these movies are great fun, but each of them speak to various poor ways of making a movie. Working through the political and money laden minefield of Hollywood, being led by an enthusiastic but delusional indie director, or failing to prepare for production and having it fall apart altogether.
All of these movies were made before the digital revolution, before movies could be shot on a much smaller scale, with better inexpensive equipment, and reach an audience directly (without a movie star) using digital distribution.
So enjoy these movies, and have fun watching them. But if you want to learn the smart way to realistically start your Directing career the right way, visit filmschoolsolution.com.


  1. don’t you know Federico Fellini? 8 1/2 is THE movie about making movies

  2. One of this kind of movies for me is “Hollywood Ending” by Woody Allen 🙂

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