Behind the Scenes
Prior to our screening of Hearts Of Darkness (1991), which chronicles the nightmarish production of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979), here are a handful of other documentaries, mostly filmed on-location, that attempt to illuminate the delicate process of filmmaking.
Burden Of Dreams (Les Blank, 1982)
Chronicling the making (and near-unmaking) of Fitzcarraldo (1982), Burden Of Dreams finds Werner Herzog, trapped in the harsh Peruvian jungle, battling the elements and locals, as well as the temperament of star Klaus Kinski, all while attempting to manually transport a 320-ton steamship over a mountain range.
The American Dreamer (L.M. Kit Carson & Lawrence Schiller, 1971)
Filmed at his home and studio in New Mexico, during the tumultuous post-production of The Last Movie (1971), The American Dreamer sees Dennis Hopper attempting to follow up his generation-defining film Easy Rider (1969) amidst personal and creative turmoil.
Ingmar Bergman Makes A Movie (Ingmar Bergman Gör En Film) (Vilgot Sjöman, 1963)
Originally made for Swedish television, Sjöman—later known for his groundbreaking I Am Curious (Yellow) (Jag Är Nyfiken - En Film I Gult, 1967)—follows Ingmar Bergman during the making of Winter Light (Nattvardsgästerna, 1963), from the screenwriting process to the film’s premiere and critical reception, giving an unprecedented glimpse into the creative process of one of the twentieth century’s most acclaimed filmmakers, working at the height of his powers.
Making ‘The Shining’ (Vivian Kubrick, 1980)
Capturing her father, Stanley Kubrick, with rare intimacy, during the making of his horror classic The Shining (1980), this short documentary, made for the BBC, offers exceptional insight into the working methods of the notoriously reticent director.
Lost In La Mancha (Keith Fulton & Louis Pepe, 2002)
Chronicling director Terry Gilliam’s first, failed attempt at adapting Cervantes’s epic Don Quixote (1605/1615) for the screen. The project, a longtime dream for Gilliam, would spend decades in development hell before finally being released as The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018). The filmmakers followed up their initial documentary with He Dreams Of Giants (2019), charting the entire arc of the film’s difficult development.
They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (Morgan Neville, 2018)
Begun in 1970, The Other Side Of The Wind (2018) was intended to be Orson Welles’s Hollywood comeback—until legal, financial and political complications derailed the production indefinitely. Despite working intermittently on the film during the 70s and 80s, Welles was never able to complete the picture before his death in 1985. After languishing in creative limbo for decades, the project was finally realized thanks in part to filmmaker and Welles-confidante Peter Bogdanovich, and released concurrently with Neville’s documentary on the film’s troubled gestation—currently, at a staggering forty-eight years, the longest production in film history.
Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie? (Où Gît Votre Sourire Enfoui?) (Pedro Costa, 2001)
Acclaimed filmmaker Pedro Costa peers into the editing room of the iconic Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet as the pair consider the influence of figures as diverse as Charlie Chaplin and Sergei Eisenstein, and the ethical and aesthetic implications of various film techniques, in crafting their masterpiece, Sicilia! (1999).
That Moment: Magnolia Diary (Mark Rance, 2000)
This “diary” captures an exasperated and over-worked Paul Thomas Anderson through the gruelling 90-day shoot for Magnolia (1999), simultaneously tangling with studio machinations and his own creative impulses in order to deliver a work of startling originality.