8 inspiring movies from 5 inspiring filmmakers.

Think back. What films have inspired you most on your filmmaking journey? You know, the films that not only kept you at the edge of your seat, but also left you with a feeling of, "I need to tell stories like that."

There are probably a number of films that come to mind—ones that got you out of creative ruts, inspired you to become a filmmaker in the first place, or just moved you so deeply that you saw the true potential of a story. 

Now, boil down your selection into one or two films. Not easy, right?

We posed this question—challenge, really—to 5 Story & Heart filmmakers. Their answers are not only illuminating, but also inspiring in and of themselves.

“One of my most absolutely favorite movies that has really stuck with me over time is a movie called Children of Men. When I first saw that I was completely blown away by a couple of things. 1) Just foundationally I thought the story absolutely incredible. It stuck with me for weeks and weeks. After I saw it I kept thinking about the movie. 2) It was a film that was incredibly complex technically, but was also very raw and real. It was a film that showed me that you could be a master of your craft but it be so loose and free feeling. That really stuck with me as both a DP and Director as I’ve moved forward. That film had very, very long takes and that really inspired a lot of what I’ve done. I love having the camera linger on the subject, let a scene fold out over time, and not rely on quick cuts to try and enhance the pacing, or create an emotion or reaction to what's happening in front of the camera. I think the idea that a film could look like anyone could make it, but in fact would require an enormous amount of effort, expertise, and technical knowhow has been really inspiring to me."

Dana Saint of Gnarly Bay: Requiem for a Dream.

“One movie that I’ve seen that has really affected my filmmaking process, and I actually, truly to be honest with you, didn’t like the movie all that much, was Requiem for a Dream. It’s a great movie, don’t get me wrong, but it was a little heavy and a little dark for my liking. I remember seeing that as a young filmmaker and it had a huge impact on my filmmaking process, because it was the first time I actually realized how important sound design was. That movie does it incredibly well, and it also made me realize that sound design doesn’t need to be a "see and say”. Sound design can be extremely creative, and in that movie they did that a lot. Like somebody's pupil expanding—there is no sound for that, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add sound design to it."

Joe Simon of The Delivery Men: Birdman and A Most Violent Year.

“I watch quite a few movies every year. I love movies. They transport you to a different place and time. It’s very inspiring. Every time I watch a movie I just think I can't wait to make a movie like this. This year there are a few films that have been very inspiring.The first is Birdman. I just really enjoyed it because of the amount of effort and pre-production and time that went into creating something like that. The actors have to be on screen so long without any cuts taking place and just to choreograph the camera, the lighting, and the talent is just spectacular. I can’t imagine how you could pull something off like that. For that movie the directing was amazing. Another movie was A Most Violent Year. The cinematography was just beautiful—it’s set in the 1980’s and has that 80’s tone to it. The coloring, the texture, just the lighting overall is beautiful—the way the shadows fall. A lot of the negative space used in the framing and in the lighting is really great. If you’re a cinematographer I really recommend watching this film as you’ll learn a lot in this piece."

Mike Sutton of Frozen Prosperity: ClerksManny & Lo, and Gas Food Lodging.

“There are numerous movies that have inspired me and inspired my career. Welcome to the Doll House, Clerks, Manny and Lo, and Gas Food Lodging. The common theme among these films is they’re very low budget—there wasn’t a lot of money to be thrown about. The filmmakers went about and made these films by themselves, for themselves. They went out and took a risk—they told the story that they wanted to tell."


"If I could pinpoint one film that really changed my life it would be Fight Club. Flight club came about at the perfect time, I was 18 years old, I think the year was 2000. I went to see it multiple times in the movie theater, and it kept bringing me back because it was the first film that for me had a style that was everything. It was saturating, dark, incredibly clever and it had an ending that blew my mind. Not only all those amazing story things, it had crazy characters and it also had a philosophy of the world that was mind altering for an 18 year male at the time. It’s one of those things that's always stuck with me and I think that is when I first realized what the power of film was. You can make a message that is so pinpoint accurate for one specific type of person and I felt like that film was speaking to me at that time.

Got your film selections ready? Share one or two that have inspired you on your journey as a filmmaker in the comments below.