10 Best Documentaries about Filmmaking / Best Movies about Filmmaking

Posted by Grant Patten on Sep 14, 2020 6:52:24 AM

10 Best Documentaries about Filmmaking / Best Movies about Filmmaking

Let’s review Front Row’s top 10 documentaries about filmmaking.

(in no particular order):

  1. Lost in La Mancha / He Dreams of Giants
  2. Burden of Dreams
  3. Final Cut: The Making and Unmaking of Heaven’s Gate
  4. The Making of "The Shining" / Room 237
  5. American Movie
  6. The Kid Stays in the Picture
  7. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
  8. Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
  9. Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films
  10. The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing

 

1. Lost in La Mancha / He Dreams of Giants

Lost in La Mancha

Film critic Leonard Maltin has described Lost in La Mancha (2002) [Amazon Link] as one of the best films about the process of moviemaking. A follow-up to this documentary, He Dreams of Giants, was released in 2019.

Director Terry Gilliam had a very hard time making his Don Quixote movie, which he started on in 1989 and finally released in 2018 as The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. All the trials and tribulations associated with finally getting this movie made are documented in these documentaries, which stand on their own as fascinating documents of the filmmaking process.

 

2. Burden of Dreams

Burden of Dreams

Burden of Dreams [Amazon Link] is a 1982 "making-of" documentary film, shot during and about the chaotic production of Werner Herzog's film Fitzcarraldo.

Filming on location in the jungles of Peru, the crew (unsurprisingly) experienced challenges with the extreme heat and other weather issues. Herzog’s determination to literally have a steamship manually pulled over a steep mountain also proved challenging – but it all makes for amusing viewing.

 

3. Final Cut: The Making & Unmaking of Heaven's Gate

Final Cut: The Making & Unmaking of Heaven's GateDirector Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate has been widely panned as among the worst box-office bombs – and to many, even one of the worst movies of all time, period – but its making-of documentary, on the other hand, Final Cut: The Making and Unmaking of Heaven's Gate [Amazon Link], has been critically acclaimed. This documentary is available as an extra on the Heaven’s Gate DVD (Disc Two - Bonus Features).

The production faced numerous setbacks, including cost overruns, significant retakes, bad press, and rumours of Cimino's allegedly authoritarian directorial style. It’s all on display in this fascinating making-of doc – “warts and all”.

 

4. The Making of "The Shining" / Room 237

Room 237 DVD

The Making of "The Shining" [Amazon Link] is a 30-minute documentary directed by Stanley Kubrick's daughter Vivian. Kubrick fans will find this making-of doc particularly fascinating, as it includes footage of Kubrick actually directing on set. It is included as an extra on the regular movie DVD.

Another related documentary is Room 237 [Amazon Link], which is an entertaining and often amusing exposition of the many interpretations of this much-discussed horror film.

 

American Movie DVD5. American Movie

American Movie [Amazon Link] is a humorous document of the 1996–97 making of Coven, an independent horror film directed by American filmmaker Mark Borchardt.

Coven experienced numerous setbacks, including poor financing, a lack of planning, and overall ineptitude from the friends and family Borchardt hired as his production team. However, this often-comical ineptitude is what makes the movie funny and memorable.

 

6. The Kid Stays in the Picture

The Kid Stays in the Picture DVDThe Kid Stays in the Picture [Amazon Link] is particularly important for any burgeoning (or established) film producers to watch, as this documentary focuses on the career of one of the most successful producers of all time, Robert Evans (produced Rosemary's Baby, Love Story, The Godfather, Chinatown, and others). All film producers can learn a lot from Evans’ storied career.

This documentary utilizes Evans' narration interspersed mostly with photographs from Evans' life, brief film snippets, and interviews to tell the story of his film producing career.

 

7. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS DVDEasy Riders, Raging Bulls [Amazon Link] is a documentary (based on the book by Peter Biskind) on 1970s Hollywood/the “American New Wave”, a period of American cinema known for the production of such films as The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Chinatown, Taxi Driver, Jaws, Star Wars, The Exorcist, and The Last Picture Show.

It would make sense to watch this in conjunction with the aforementioned The Kid Stays in the Picture, since Bob Evans produced some of the notable ‘70s-era movies discussed in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, including the masterpiece Chinatown.

 

8. Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky DVDDirected by Andrei Tarkovsky [Amazon Link] follows this renowned Russian filmmaker as he was working on his final production, The Sacrifice. The documentary can be found on Disc Two of The Sacrifice DVD.

This documentary includes some interesting interviews with Tarkovsky, and examines his meticulous creative process and uncompromising vision. The focus is not so much on Tarkovsky's career, but on the man himself – his thoughts, ideas and personality.

 

9. Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

Electric Boogaloo DVDElectric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films [Amazon Link] is a funny documentary about Cannon Films, which produced mainly “B movies” from 1967 to 1994.

This production company was known for creating “schlock” films but some cult classics also, including Runaway Train (1985), The Delta Force (1986) and Charles Bronson’s Death Wish series.

Electric Boogaloo pays tribute to this era of “schlock” filmmaking with a nostalgic look back that's arguably more entertaining than much of Cannon's own “B movie” product.

 

10. The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing

The Cutting Edge DVDThe Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing [Amazon Link] focuses on the underappreciated craft of movie editing. Kathy Bates narrates this history of the art of editing, punctuated by dozens of scenes to illustrate the power of editing in heightening reality and making a visceral impact on the viewer.

Notable directors who make appearances in this documentary include James Cameron, Sean Penn, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and Quentin Tarantino.

 

Get Film Insurance | Film Production Insurance | Filmmaking Insurance | Documentary Film Insurance

If you’re watching documentaries about filmmaking, chances are that you’re a filmmaker or planning to be one. And if you’re a filmmaker, you’ll want to consider insuring your valuable filmmaking gear and film productions. Consider Front Row Insurance:

  • Members of the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) have exclusive access to an insurance program designed for Canadian documentary producers.
  • Short-Term Film Insurance (Canada): provides coverage for up to 15 consecutive days of shooting, with no minimum premium. The coverage is available online 24/7. Covers rented gear, rented locations, rented props, sets, wardrobes, and more. Quotes are free.
  • DigiGear Insurance (Canada): custom equipment insurance for owners of: cameras, sound and lighting gear working in the film/TV industry. Also available online. Quotes in 2 minutes. Policy available in 5 minutes. Shop from your phone.

US-based filmmakers can view Front Row’s US policies here.

 

About: Front Row Insurance Brokers Inc. is an independent insurance broker that specializes in the entertainment industry – specifically, the film industry. Front Row has 51 staff in 8 offices that have a combined 530+ years of experience serving the film industry. Front Row is the largest film insurance broker in Canada. Front Row works hard to provide insurance protection for the lowest possible cost. Should a claim occur, Front Row ensures that clients receive the money they are owed per the insurance policy, as quickly as possible.

Related posts:

THE 10 BEST FILMMAKING BOOKS | TOP BOOKS ON FILMMAKING / VIDEOGRAPHY

THE 10 BEST HOW-TO PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS

Amazon Associates Disclosure: Front Row Insurance is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. This post may contain affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you.

Topics: Short Film Insurance, Documentary Insurance, DigiGear, Best of

E&O: Are There Different Things Needed for a Documentary vs. a Drama?

Posted by Remy Khouzam on Dec 16, 2019 11:43:55 AM

E&O: Are There Different Things Needed for a Documentary vs. a Drama?


Remy Khouzam (Lawyer)
: From an errors and omissions (E&O) perspective, you have to look at the project based on what challenges it presents. So, a documentary will have different legal concerns than a drama.

E&O Insurance and Documentaries

For documentary, we’ll mostly be looking at privacy issues, potential defamation issues and – more and more now – just because budgets are being cut and the price of archives is going up – filmmakers are using the copyright exception of fair use (fair dealing under Canadian law) to use clips, lawfully, without having to clear them with rights holders. So, obviously, this brings some challenges from a legal perspective that are not exclusive to documentary but clearly appear more in documentary settings than they do in fiction.

E&O Insurance and Fiction Films

For fiction, most of it will be based on copyright issues, trademark and consideration as to what the characters are saying because you could cross that line into defamation. Those would be the major differences – you cover all legal bases but the emphasis is put on different areas, depending on the nature of the project.

Related:

About: Lussier & Khouzam is a Canadian law firm specialized in Arts and Entertainment law. Visit their website at https://lussierkhouzam.com/.

Topics: Film Producer's E&O Insurance, Documentary Insurance, Script Clearance reports, defamation insurance, Trademark, Fair Use Doctrine

How to choose between a DICE Insurance Policy and a DigiGear Policy?

Posted by Grant Patten on Nov 11, 2019 12:33:21 PM

HOW TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A DICE POLICY AND A DIGIGEAR POLICY?

DICE (docs, corporate videos, commercials, educational films, music videos)

The DICE Package Policy is intended to provide insurance for smaller budget documentaries, corporate videos, commercials, educational films, music videos and more. DICE is best suited for producers who are planning to produce projects other than feature films or TV series.

DICE can provide coverage for a full year for rented & owned equipment as well as Props, Sets and Wardrobe, Office Contents, Vehicle Physical Damage and more. Commercial General Liability coverage can also be purchased either together with the equipment coverage or on a standalone basis. If you would like more information or to request a free non-obligation quote, visit our DICE Policy website here. If you are a US based Producer, click here instead.

A DICE policy is available in ~4 hours by calling or emailing our office.

DigiGear (film equipment)

The DigiGear Policy is intended for owners of camera equipment, sound, lighting and other film equipment. All equipment is covered for: theft, damage, fire and loss of use. Like DICE, the DigiGear policy term is also for 12 months. A DigiGear policy is designed to cover owners/operators of production equipment whose operations or services fall within one of the below classifications:

  • Camera Operator
  • Director of Photography (DP) / Cinematographer
  • Videographer
  • Sound Recordist
  • Digital Imaging Technician
  • Grip

Unlike DICE, DigiGear is not a film production policy.

A DigiGear policy is available online in ~five minutes 24/7.
Note: coverage under DigiGear is only available to Canadian residents at this time.

For a visual overview of the two policies, view the infographic below:

DICE vs. DigiGear infographic

RELATED POST:

HOW TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A DICE POLICY AND A SHORT SHOOT POLICY*

 

Topics: Film equipment insurance, Documentary Insurance, DICE Insurance, DigiGear, corporate video insurance, music video insurance, Educational Film Insurance

DOCUMENTARY ORG OF CANADA FILM MAKERS: WHAT IS ERRORS AND OMISSIONS INSURANCE?

Posted by David Hamilton on Mar 6, 2018 5:10:26 PM

Documentary Producers' E&O Insurance

You arrive home after the screening of your documentary at a well-known film festival. The film was well received. You feel great! Your years of hard work and investment have paid off. Your distributor is happy. But even more than that, you told an important story and exposed the truth about a difficult subject.

There is a knock at your door. A courier hands you a registered letter. You take it and open the package. The words catch you completely off guard- you, your company, your wife, your financial partner and your cameraman are being sued for libel and slander by a large, powerful company with many lawyers in their employ. Your mind bubbles with fear- how can it be? Your wife? Your investor? Your cameraman? Why are they named on the suit?

You think back to when you placed your Errors and Omissions coverage. You remember that your attorney was careful to vet the production for libel and slander issues. You remember not liking the process because some great ideas and footage had to be scrapped during editing. In retrospect, you’re glad that you engaged a specialized clearance attorney familiar with “fair use” issues. Having also engaged a film broker specialized in DOC insurance, the panic begins to ease.

But then you think, what about your personal assets? Will your E&O policy be enough to prevent the lawsuit from effecting those? What about your wife, investor and cameraman? Will these legal costs need to be borne separate from the company’s policy?

To clarify this, the first thing you should do is notify your insurance broker and forward the legal letter you received so it can be reviewed.

Under most normal situations: you, your company, your wife, the investor and the cameraman would all be protected under the policy. Your E&O policy will provide an expert claims adjuster and a lawyer paid by the insurance company to defend your production through a settlement and even a court case if necessary.

Please note that the above is an example only: for a detailed outline on E&O coverage contact us and we will send you sample policy wording. In the event of a coverage conflict given the advice above, the policy wording would prevail.

To obtain a preliminary E&O quote, please Click Here. You will be requested to fill out an application and a quote will be given to you in most cases within one business day.

Topics: Film Producer's E&O Insurance, Documentary Insurance

How to choose between a DICE Policy and a Short Shoot policy*

Posted by David Hamilton on Sep 22, 2017 4:56:00 PM

HOW TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A DICE POLICY AND A SHORT SHOOT POLICY*

A Short Shoot Policy is intended for those producers who are conducting shoots lasting 15 days or less, using rented equipment and with budgets of $250,000 or less. This makes it ideal for short film producers, student projects or anyone else who will be filming on a short term basis and requires insurance. Equipment coverage can apply to any rented film production equipment as well as rented props, sets and wardrobe up to the specified policy limits. Commercial General Liability coverage can also be purchased either together with equipment coverage or on a standalone basis. If you would like a free non-obligation quote or to purchase coverage, visit our Short Shoot policy website here. *Currently we are only able to provide this coverage to Canadian Producers. If you require this coverage in the US, please complete this form.

A DICE Package Policy is intended to provide insurance for documentaries, corporate videos, commercials, educational films, music videos and more. It is best suited for producers who are planning to produce projects other than feature films or TV series. This can provide coverage for a full year for Rented and Owned equipment as well as Props, Sets and Wardrobe, Office Contents, Vehicle Physical Damage and more. Commercial General Liability coverage can also be purchased either together with the equipment coverage or on a standalone basis. If you would like more information or to request a free non-obligation quote, please visit our DICE policy website here. If you are a US based Producer please click here instead.

Note: If you're planning more than one short-term production within a calendar year, our recommendation is that you go with a DICE policy.

For more information, view the infographic below:

DICE - Short Shoot Infographic (Canada).jpg

 

related post:

How to choose between a DICE Insurance Policy and a DigiGear Policy?

 

Topics: Film equipment insurance, Short Film Insurance, Commercial Production Insurance, Documentary Insurance, DICE Insurance, corporate video insurance, music video insurance, Educational Film Insurance

The Annual Film Production Insurance Package Made Easy

Posted by David Hamilton on Sep 13, 2017 4:46:15 PM

ANNUAL FILM INSURANCE - WITH COUPON!

The Annual DICE Insurance Policy takes the hassle out of purchasing film insurance for your film productions. It is flexible, affordable, and customizable designed to fit your individual needs. 

This policy will not only save you time, it will also save you money. Insuring all your productions under one policy helps to cut the costs, as it will reduce the administrative expenses associated with insuring each production individually, and these savings are passed onto you.

The Annual DICE Policy is specially designed to provide: insurance for commercials, documentary insurance, corporate video insurance, educational film insurance, music video insurance, training video insurance, short film insurance, and still photography insurance.

Check out our Infographic below for coupon savings and more. Coupon not valid in QC, ON, SK.

DICE Infographic

Interested in seeing more? Visit the Front Row Insurance Website for a free no-obligation quote!

Topics: Short Film Insurance, Film Insurance, Entertainment Insurance, Commercial Production Insurance, Documentary Insurance, DICE Insurance, corporate video insurance, music video insurance, Educational Film Insurance

Producers E&O: What is My Distributor and Financier Asking For?

Posted by Kent Hamilton on Apr 7, 2017 3:12:31 PM

Documentary E&O Insurance

Documentary

You sold your documentary! You met your distributor requirement of obtaining a three year E&O policy through the Front Row IDA E&O Program or Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) Program. Congratulations!

However, you read the fine print in the contract and you’re surprised to see several requirements:

  • First, the distributor wants you to extend your policy to cover them by naming them Additional Insured in case of a claim. No problem: you just send a request and provide us with your distributors name and address. This will generate a certificate of Insurance (COI). The certificate will detail: your company name and address, what insurance company is covering you, how much insurance the project has (i.e. $1,000,000/$3,000,000), and what the retention (deductible) is (i.e. $10,000 or $25,000). You can request as many certificates  as you like under the IDA program if you make multiple sales and certs are always free.
  •  Second, the distributor wants to be covered for 5 years! You just paid a lot of money for a three year policy. Will this cost you more premium? The answer is no. There is a special endorsement that is offered on the IDA policies called a “Rights Period Endorsement (RPE) ” or “Term of Contract Endorsement (TOC)”. This endorsement will extend the length of your E&O term to match the length of your distributors agreement as long as you notify the insurance carrier prior to the expiration of your policy. Just send us your distribution contract and in the majority of cases the insurance carrier will provide you with this  money saving endorsement.

Now you can breathe easier knowing that your E&O policy is in place  to protect your company, financiers and distributors.

Producer's E&O will cover legal & judgement costs if you are found responsible for any of:

  1. Invasion or infringement of privacy
  2. Infringement of copyright or trademark
  3. Libel, slander or other forms of defamation
  4. Plagiarism, piracy or unfair competition resulting from the alleged use of titles, formats, ideas, characters, plots, performances of artists or performers or other material
  5. Breach of contract, implied or in fact or in law, resulting from the alleged submission, acquisition or use of program, musical or literary material used by the insured in the insured production

To obtain a preliminary E&O quote for your project, please  CLICK HERE

You will be requested to fill out an application and a quote will be given to you in most cases within one business day.

IDA Production Insurance packages are also available:  CLICK HERE

Please note that this is an illustration only: for a detailed outline of the E&O coverage contact us and we will send you a sample policy wording. In the event of a coverage conflict given the advice above, the policy wording would prevail.

 

RELATED LINKS:

E&O Insurance 101 & How to Protect Your Film Project

E&O: What You Need to Know

E&O: Cost

Are you paying for the coverage you need?

Steps to Obtain

Producer Errors and Omissions

E&O: Reviewing Scripts

Distributor Errors and Omissions

Documentary E&O Insurance

Copyright Reports

How much of your film is copyright-able?

Copyright Infringements

Title Reports

Script Clearance Reports

Clearance Procedures

Claims Made vs. Occurrence

Fair Use

False Light Accusations

The value of a lawyer

To get or not get permission: The Social Network

A production lawyer's guide to obtaining E&O insurance and preventing litigation

Topics: Film Producer's E&O Insurance, Documentary Insurance

E&O Insurance for film: WHO IS INSURED

Posted by Kent Hamilton on Feb 6, 2017 11:51:54 AM

E&O Insurance for Film

You arrive home after your screening of your documentary at a well known film festival. The film was well received. You feel great! Your hard work and investment for the last five years has paid off. Your distributor is happy. But even more than that you told your  important story and exposed the truth about a difficult subject.

Film producer's E&O insurance

There is a knock at your door and a courier presents you with a registered letter. You sign and open the package and see that you, your company, your wife, your financial partner and your cameraman have been sued for libel and slander by a large, powerful company. Fear strikes! Your wife? Your investor? Your cameraman? Why would they name them on the suit?

Your mind eases when you remember that your attorney was careful to vet the production for libel and slander issues. You remember not liking the process because some great ideas and footage had to be scrapped during editing. You are glad that you engaged a specialized clearance attorney familiar with “fair use” issues.

And…you purchased an E&O policy for your company from a specialized documentary insurance broker. Wow! You catch your breath. Similar scenarios to this have been played out many times for many documentarians.

But am I personally protected under the policy? Is my wife, investor and cameraman protected? Or will those legal costs have to be borne separate from that of the company’s policy?

What should I do?

The first thing you should do is notify your insurance broker and forward the legal letter you received.

Under most normal situations: you, your company, your wife, the investor and the cameraman would all be protected under the policy.  You will also be provided with an expert claims adjuster and a lawyer paid by the e&o insurance company to defend your production through a settlement and even a court case if necessary.

To obtain a preliminary E&O quote, please Click Here.  You will be requested to fill out an application and a quote will be given to you in most cases within one business day.

Note: this is an illustration only. For a detailed outline of the E&O coverage, contact us and we will send you a sample policy wording. In the event of a coverage conflict given the advice above, the policy wording would prevail.

Topics: Film Producer's E&O Insurance, Documentary Insurance

How does Imminent Peril Insurance Coverage Protect your Production?

Posted by David Hamilton on Dec 31, 2012 12:08:00 PM

Imminent Peril insurance coverage

Imminent Peril is part of Extra Expense (EE) coverage. EE itself is similar to Business Interruption insurance, except that it will not cover loss of income, but rather if you suffer an insured loss, it will pay for the extra costs to get your production back to filming as soon as possible. It will also reimburse you for extra costs incurred because something out of your control has prevented you from filming.

‘Imminent Peril’ is defined in the policy as “We will pay for expenses you incur to avoid a loss insured under this policy due to imminent peril to the extent that such expenses serve to avoid such loss.” It will pay for the damage you cause to prevent further damage.

EXAMPLES of losses that would be insured by Imminent Peril:Imminent Peril coverage

- A sudden  storm hits your external set with golf ball sized hail stones. To prevent damage to your filming gear, you tear down a façade from your set to cover the cameras. The cost to rebuild the intentional damage to the set would be covered by Imminent Peril.         

- A small fire ignites in your production office.  You attempt to control the fire by switching off the gas supply, breaking the alarm glass, using fire extinguishers and fire blankets, and evacuate the building to protect persons and property.  This coverage will pay for these extra materials and lost productive time used to minimize damage.

NB: As with most other coverages, there are some standard exclusions that apply to Extra Expense coverages. Please see the policy wording for a full description of the coverage, or call a specialized film insurance broker such as Front Row Insurance.

Topics: Film Insurance, Entertainment Insurance, Film Insurance claims, Documentary Insurance, DICE Insurance

Call Sheets Help Reduce Film Production Insurance Costs

Posted by David Hamilton on Nov 14, 2012 5:44:00 PM

DAILY CALL SHEETS

Daily call sheet

Daily Call Sheets are a useful way to alert cast and crew to potential hazards for that day’s shooting schedule, and to inform them about which safety precautions they might need to take.  Film Insurance underwriters appreciate the risk management component of a call sheet and take this protocol into consideration when assessing the film insurance risk of a film production.

The following should be included on Call Sheets:

  • Scheduled stunts
  • Any special effects that will be used
  • Scheduled use of firearms
  • Potential hazards specific to the location
  • Any required personal protective clothing and equipment and how workers can get it
  • The name, contact number, and location of the first aid attendant
  • The location of the first aid kit or facility
  • The location of the nearest hospital or emergency facility
  • Any other health and safety concerns that the cast and crew need to be aware of

Safety guidelines should be attached to call sheets, i.e., If any special effects are to be used on the set, then a safety guideline should be attached specific to the type of special effects that will used. For example, if you are shooting near a thoroughfare with lots of traffic, it may be useful to add notes about this on the call sheet. What are the weather conditions like? Will the crew require special footwear or clothing for extreme temperature? What about sunscreen or hydration requirements?

Along this line of thought, it is important to include information such as the nearest hospital, along with any other emergency numbers that are specific to your location.

Have you thought about:

Putting up safety posters in common areas around the set location as a reminder to pay attention to certain hazards around the workplace and certain locations, e.g., Aerial filming.

A specialized film insurance broker is best able to present the risks associated with your film production to the film insurance underwriter to ensure you receive the best coverage and premium for your production.

Front Row Insurance Brokers are specialized Film Insurance Brokers. Please call us if you have any questions.

The above information is  based on WorkSafe – Focus on Safety – Safe Work Practices for Film and Television Production in B.C. (2001 edition)

Topics: Film equipment insurance, Short Film Insurance, Film Insurance, Entertainment Insurance, Film insurance broker, Film Insurance claims, Commercial Production Insurance, Documentary Insurance, SPFX Insurance, film insurance premium, DICE Insurance, Film Production Companies