5 Best Creative Brain Fuel Films for Filmmakers

I love movies. Since I was a 5 year old kid sitting on the floor in my living room, staying up until midnight watching the Terminator, and James Bond with my dad – I have loved films. They carried me through some of the toughest and most formative moments of my early life. Films have had a profound affect in me – so much so, that I decided to go into film as a career. I thought there would be nothing better than getting to be apart of the big and magical machines that make films possible.

At first, there was a perfect and beautiful harmony in this – I would spend an entire day working on set, and the and then go home and watch an 80’s horror classic with my roommates revelling in the fact that I was now apart of this beautiful world of cinema. But as work and pressure began to mount over the years, I stopped having time to actually watch movies. And more so – the stresses I carried with work began to attach themselves to this beautiful art form I was obsessed with as a child.

Creators always need brain-fuel

If you are a creator within any cinematic universe it is imperative you do not let this reality take hold of you. It is this cycle of over-worked and under-inspired that causes a person to churn out less and less inventive ideas and eventually burn out all together. It is so important that you remarry yourself to this art form whenever possible.

We can not be capable and impactful artists if we do not take the appropriate amount of time to pay homage to the art of others within our medium. The other masters and auteurs of this craft are the ones that will give you thought-sparking brain-gasming ideas that will take your next project to a level that will reignite the fire within you and prevent burnout.

My Top 5 Brain-Fuel Films

So without further ado – here are my top 5 brain fuel films to get your creative imaginations flowing:

Sunshine (2007)
Dir. Danny Boyle
Sunshine is the perfect sci-fi/thriller film that accurately describes one of humanity’s most fundamental issues: Whether or not we deserve to be the masters of our own destiny in the greater scheme of things. Sunshine performs the incredible feat of making the sun itself a character in the film, and does something so few films are willing to do: Changes the core genre style and expectations into the third act of the film.

Samsara (2012)
Dir. Ron Fricke
Samsara delivers an intense visual tapestry through an evolving non-verbal narrative. It is a feast for your eyes and will inspire you to imagine how much you can say without ever saying a word.

Fish Tank (2009)
Dir. Andrea Arnold
Andrea Arnold knocks it out of the park coming-of-age emotional drama. Katie Jarvis delivers such an incredible performance alongside a younger Michael Fassbender. Fish Tank has always inspired me to reach a little deeper with any of my characters, giving them room to live and breathe onscreen.

Sicario (2015)
Dir. Denis Villeneuve
Sicario may seem like a strange pick but this film has two amazing things going for it. For one, Roger Deakins shows off how even a tiny bathroom can be lit beautifully, and how subtlety is the key to masterful, unimposing cinematography. Secondly, Emily Blunt’s character is the perfect vessel to traverse the complicated world of drug trafficking and enforcement. She is thrust into the world and forced to fend for herself while trying to comprehend where the lines of good and evil are drawn.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MI (2017)
Dir. Martin McDonagh
This one is for all the performers out there. Three Billboards is a very simple but powerful story, comprised of really moving performances. Every single character is three dimensional and realized in a way that is so rarely seen in cinema any longer. Frances McDormand is incredible. This one always reminds me that it isn’t about how massive and complex you make a world, but rather the characters that you allow to live in it.


BONUS:

Monsters (2010)
Dir. Gareth Edwards
While this film is far from perfect – this one sits close to home for me as this was one of the films that got me to make this my lifelong passion. Monsters premiered at TIFF in 2009 to a standing ovation and my younger self watched Gareth and his team walk on stage and explain how this film was made on less than $100,000 in production. With a tiny team of filmmakers traveling between 4 countries to make it happen, it was more of a filmmaking family than a crew. It makes you realize how much is possible on a small budget.

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