The Films That Inspired Filmmakers to Become Filmmakers

On Journal, we love to ask filmmakers—from directors, to writers, to actors—which films inspired them to make the celluloid craft their living. This list is a running tally of their choices so far. See notes for the filmmaker with a link to their interview.

Films are listed in alphabetical order. One film per filmmaker if they gave us more than one choice, depending on which made a greater impact in the context of their answer.

Interviewees who nominated screen stories other than feature films:

• A, My Name is Alex (1987): Lil Rel Howery, star of Brittany Runs a Marathon.
• Jackass (2000—2007): Daniel Scheinert, director of The Death of Dick Long.
• The Storyteller (1987—1989): Shannon Murphy, director of Babyteeth.

Read notes
  • The 39 Steps
  • 9 Songs
  • Akira
  • Aliens
  • All That Jazz
  • Almost Famous
  • American Beauty
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Back to the Future
  • Back to the Future Part II
  • Blue Velvet
  • Boogie Nights
  • Chungking Express
  • Clue
  • Das Boot
  • Do the Right Thing
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • First Blood
  • Forever Young, Forever Free
  • Friday Night
  • Funny Girl
  • The Graduate
  • Heavy Metal
  • Heavyweights
  • Hook
  • In the Mood for Love
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Jaws
  • Jurassic Park
  • Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance
  • Kes
  • La Strada
  • The Lord of the Rings Collection
  • Magnolia
  • The Matrix
  • Memento
  • Minority Report
  • Monsters, Inc.
  • Old Joy
  • Opening Night
  • The Piano
  • Point of Order!
  • Poison
  • The Puffy Chair
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Roger & Me
  • The Rolling Stones: Cocksucker Blues
  • Seance on a Wet Afternoon
  • The Secret of NIMH
  • The Shining
  • Some Kind of Wonderful
  • The Sound of Music
  • Spider-Man
  • Star Wars
  • Stranger Than Paradise
  • Taxi Driver
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  • The Thin Blue Line
  • The Truman Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
  • Watership Down
  • Welcome to the Dollhouse
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?