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Ben Yennie: 5 Movies you NEED to watch as a Filmmaker

In order to be a good filmmaker, you have to watch a lot of movies.  We here at ProductionNext certainly have watched a lot of them.  As such, we thought we would compile a list of movies every filmmaker needs to see before they make their next movie.  Unlike many other similar lists available on the internet, we’ve got a specific reason that you as filmmakers need to watch these movies. 

1. Pixar’s Up

We’re going to get the obvious one out of the way first.  If you’re a filmmaker, you NEED to understand 3-act Structure.  It might not be popular, and it’s definitely cliche, but you really do need to understand it.  We chose Up for this list because it hits every beat down to the minute.  It also has a a fantastic short film in it’s first 10 minutes, that also has a beginning, middle, and end.  

Here’s a Link to it on Amazon.  https://amzn.to/2JIIZ9d

2. The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

This film had a huge budget and stars Eddie Murphy.  This movie is also terrible.  It’s a mother *Expletive Deleted* trainwreck.  The script is bad, it’s confusing, and there’s absolutely no excuse for it.  The reason you need to watch it as a filmmaker is so you can learn that even all the money and name talent in the world can’t make a terrible script into a good movie.  

Here’s a link to it on Amazon.  https://amzn.to/2MiZbjj

3. Narco Hitman (US Title) Still Alive (International Title) Paralytic (Original title)

Disclaimer:  I am an executive producer on this film, but what I have to say is still true.

There are lots of reasons this film could be a case study.  One would be how films can change during distribution, anther would be funny stories about internationalization, and there are a whole lot more.  However, the specific reason it’s on this list is so you can understand how to make a great movie on a VERY limited budget.  

While I’m not allowed to say the exact budget, it could have been made on the SAG Ultra Low Budget Agreement.  You should watch this to understand that you don’t need a huge budget to make a great film.  

Here’s a link to watch the movie on Amazon.  https://amzn.to/2JzS1ta

You could also check out The Cutlass or Goodland for similar reasons.  Here’s a Link to The Cutlass on Amazon Prime.  https://amzn.to/2JBCOYq.

More links on Goodland later.  


This movie is a great example of using what you have to make your movie as best you can.  This film started as a 110,000 dollar budget film starring a mostly unknown musician.  It went and on to gross millions at the box office, win the Oscar for best original song, and even spawn a Broadway Musical and Traveling Show.  All they did was focus on their strengths, which were a few very talented musicians and tell a simple but powerful love story that spawned into a relationship with the leads for a year or so after the release of the film.  

Here’s the film on Amazon.  https://amzn.to/2l5Tl8v

5.  Spirited Away

Spirited Away is on this list due to it being an excellent example of how to manage negative space.  Given the fantastic environments and lush animation, you might not think of this film as one to deal with negative space, but it handles silence and lack of action in a way that every filmmaker should revisit.  

Here’s a Link to the Blu-Ray on Amazon.  https://amzn.to/2t6KXZV

Thanks for reading!  This blog ended up longer than I expected, so I’ve decided to make it a 2 parter.  Check out Part 2 Here!

In the meantime, check out the ProductionNext Platform.  It’s built with to be the best friend to any and all filmmakers.  Not only is it film scheduling software, film budgeting software, call sheet software, and so much more, it’s also completely collaborative, safe, and secure.  Click the banner below to join.


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