I love movies, I love making them, and I really love working with other independent filmmakers, but every once in a while, I need a bit of an inspirational boost. Especially during long productions when I’m sick or those pesky short films that just don’t seem to ever get finished.
Enter this article and 15 flicks I’ve found to help me not lose my wonder for this incredible industry and have, in fact, helped me to push through the slog to keep finding the gold. Many of them share a common theme, either they are about struggling storytellers (writers and filmmakers) finally getting their shot to write the most epic thing ever or they’re about an underdog learning to soar about the crowds of naysayers and do it with style. A few are indie films that have re-sparked my love for independent filmmaking. But I’ll go into that in more detail below. Let’s get started.
1. THEIR FINEST
While the film is a fictional tale, it is inspired by a bunch of filmmakers who inspired a generation to fight injustice. Their Finest follows a young woman who is trying to find her place and voice in the film industry during a time when women didn’t have much of a creative voice.
What inspired me the most was a scene where Sam Caflin’s character is sitting at his desk and writing during a bomb threat. Sirens are going off in the distance, the building is shaking from the bombs going off around the city, but Caflin’s character is focused on the task of writing the best screenplay ever. All because he recognises that his creative endeavours have the possibility to do more to inspire courage in his fellows than anything else.
It gives me hope that the films I work on have the potential to make a difference in people’s lives. It may not rock a nation to join battle like it did in Their Finest, but it may encourage one person to change bad habits and how cool would that be?
2. Stranger Than Fiction
I love this flick. It’s funny, thought-provoking, and ultimately inspires me to write interesting characters. The story follows an ordinary dude who starts hearing a voice that narrates his life.
One thing that stands out to me in this one, is how it explores story, not only with the characters, but how it talks about what type of story he’s living. It’s a great challenge to the viewer because it makes us question what kind of story we’re living. And I don’t know about you, but when I watch something like that, I want to live the best story I can, and inspires me to write great stories too.
3. Super 8
I feel like this one speaks for itself, but in case you need me to explain it a bit more, here goes. Super 8 is an inspiration to every filmmaker. While the heart of the story is about a boy grieving the loss of his mom, it’s set against a sleepy town that’s been invaded by aliens and the boy and his friends making a zombie movie out of the events. Their young passion for their short film and their innovative spirits make for a fun movie, but also inspires me to get back out there and make another film.
4. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
Gosh I love this movie. Walter, a dude who hasn’t really done anything with his life other than creating an incredible imaginary world for himself, is suddenly thrown into the deep end and has to learn how to embrace life to the fullest. It’s a great film to inspire you to get back out there and film something. Life is messy, those night shoots are exhausting, those long hours on set can sometimes feel like death, but if you love what you do because of all the amazing places you get to go or things you get to experience, then watch this. It’s sure to give you the inspirational boost you need to get back out there and make more movies.
5. Eddie The Eagle
OK, so I saw this in cinemas weeks before production of an independent feature I was producing. I was feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of the task and wondering what in the world I’d gotten myself into, and then my friend, and the director of the indie film I was about to shoot, went to the movies and watched Eddie The Eagle. We both cried. We were facing a lot of obstacles at the time and suddenly Eddie was there to encourage us to keep going, to live the dream and not listen to the ‘naysayers’. If you’re facing a similar situation as an indie filmmaker, go watch this movie. It’s sure to inspire you to keep going.
6. The Land Of Eb
I had the immense pleasure of working on this independent film, The Land Of Eb, so for me, I’m partial to watch this to remind myself of the cool movies I get to make. BUT also, it’s a beautiful film with an innovative character and story. Set in paradise (Hawaii), the film follows one man’s pursuit to get the funds to pay off his property before he dies of cancer.
Yes, I was par of the crew, but I think I can objectively say that when I watch it, it’s the kind of film an indie filmmaker wishes they’d been a part of because of the simple and poetic story it tells. Which in turn makes me want to get back out there and make another movie!
7. What If
One of the best rom-coms I’ve ever seen! And it’s an independent film. This is one of those indie’s I wish I could have worked on. It’s fun, it’s inspiring, and it’s innovative because some of those typical rom-com scenes don’t go the way the audience expects. Which is awesome. It’s one of those films that inspires me to write innovative genre indies.
This one I like because it gives me a challenge to shoot for. It’s a film that took me by surprise. Not many are able to do that these days because they all become something that I can analyze and breakdown, but Arrival still surprised me, even in my attempts to figure out where a writer would go next for the story. And because of this, I like it for this list because it’s something that I can hope for, strive towards in my own films and scripts.
Other notable mentions: Finding Neverland – for how it inspires my creativity, Ruby Sparks – for its innovative indie storytelling, The Fall – for the unique perspective and artistic elegance it invokes in me, Ed Wood – for the passion he had despite all his failures, and Argo – for showing me it can be more than just a piece of entertainment.
I hope this list helps you to keep going during those long cold night shoots or when you have a call time that’s earlier than when the birds wake up, because being an independent filmmaker and working with such a fun community really is the best.