The 10 Most Incompetent Filmmakers
"Directors to learn from"
Directing a film is a dream job for many because you get to boss actors and crews about as they bring your vision to life. But directing is difficult, there are many things a would-be director need to consider, from writing, editing, the technical side like camera and sound and inter-personal skills. There have been many pitfalls and some director experiences that future filmmakers can benefit from. I myself am planning on making my first shorts and since I live in a glass house I feel like throwing some stones.
Whilst directors like Michael Bay, Brett Ratner and McG are hated by some film fans they are still technically competent so they don't deserve a place on this list.
10. Troy Duffy
Troy Duffy is best known for making the cult action-comedy The Boondock Saints
and you may be wondering why he is on this list. Duffy started off as a musician and worked in a bar in Los Angeles. He wrote The Boondock Saints
after seeing the large levels of crime in the city. His screenplay led to a bidding and Duffy made a dream deal with the Weinsteins and Miramax: getting $450,000 to write and direct (a man who never even directed a student film), got his band to write the soundtrack and they even offered to buy the bar he worked at.
Things became unstuck for Duffy due to his ego. He played hardball with the Weinsteins, insulted numerous actors and acted like an unprofessional jackass (i.e. either showing up to meetings late, hungover or both). Miramax ended up cutting their losses by putting the film in turnaround and it was picked up by the budget production company Franchise Films.
As a filmmaker Duffy has shown to have a limited range as a director: overusing slow-motion and The Boondock Saints
sequel was pretty much a carbon copy of the original whilst the films themselves are Tarantino-light.
9. Randall Miller
Most incompetent directors are usually well-meaning figures who lack self-awareness or arrogant people that we can laugh at. Sadly in the case of Randall Miller: his incompetence led to tragedy.
Miller was a modestly successful director, making a number of films and directing TV episodes. His reputation was ruined when he was filming Midnight Rider
, a biopic about the musician Gregg Allman. During filming in Georgia Sarah Jones, the second camera assistant was killed by a train. The production had permission to shoot by the fencing next to some train tracks but they choose to ignore this and shoot on the active tracks.
Jones' death let to other film professionals who speak out about reckless behavior in the industry and Miller plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass. Miller was given a 10-year sentence, two to be served in prison and the rest on probation.
8. Paul Tanter
Paul Tanter could be considered the British Uwe Boll. Starting out as a writer, Tanter quickly rose to be a director and like Boll believed the best way to show off his work was simply to make as many films as possible. His straight-to-DVD offerings have littered supermarkets and eventually second-hand retailers in the UK.
From a business prospective Tanter and his producing partner, Simon Phillips have been successful: they have focused on popular genres like crime, horror and action. Unfortunately, Tanter's filmmaking ability does not match his business savvy. His films are filled with bad acting, flat visuals and awful location doubling: a great example of this was his Die Hard
knock-off He Who Dares: Downing Street Siege
which was clearly filmed in a warehouse.
Only one of his films has mustered a Rotten Tomatoes rating, The Fall of the Essex Boys
and it was 0%, making it one of the lowest rated British films on the site. All his films have negative audience ratings on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes.
7. Ed Wood
Ed Wood is one of the most infamous bad directors, a man who did not let his lack of ability stop him living his Hollywood dream. Wood worked as a director and screenwriter, making many B-movies in the sci-fi and horror genres. Wood fell into obscurity until 1980 when he earned the Worst Director Ever award by film critic Michael Medved in his book The Golden Turkey Awards
and the director was the subject of a loving biopic by Tim Burton.
Wood's most famous works came in the '50, making films like Glen or Glenda
, Bride of the Monster
and Plan 9 from Outer Space
. All of them have gained a cult following because of their bad dialogue, cheap production values and Wood making basic directional mistakes.
Sadly for Wood his career devolved into sexploitation and pornography in the '60s and '70s and he died in poverty at the age of 54.
6. Tommy Wiseau
Tommy Wiseau is a man who serves as an example of why someone should do a little research before making a film. Best known for making 2003's The Room
and the biopic The Disaster Artist
which was based on the filming of The Room
. Wiseau's mistakes are beyond amateurish - he brought his camera equipment instead of renting it, filmed The Room
with two different types of camera, used hilariously bad dialogue and acting and had subplots that went nowhere like the cancer storyline. Wiseau advertised The Room
with the tagline "a film with the passion of Tennessee Williams" and even submitted it for Oscar consideration.
found an audience with fans of bad cinema, leading to midnight screening around the globe and Wiseau has embraced this fanbase. If you can't be good then be terrible.
5. Uwe Boll
German Uwe Boll gained infamy during the Noughties for being a cult terrible filmmakers, known for his awful video game adaptations and horror films. His straight-to-DVD films littered stores and he became incredibly prolific. He was able to release five films in one year. Boll had a quantity over quality approach.
Boll first came to prominence when he adapted Sega's House of the Dead
and it was from there he found his business model; buys the movie rights for a video game for cheap and get people in Germany to invest because they could use it a tax write-off. Some of his worst films include Alone in the Dark
and his films became known for illogical plotting, inconsistencies with their internal rules and plot holes. His films were also known for being incredibly violent and his trademark, child death.
Instead of taking the criticism on the chin or looking to improve, Boll challenged his critics to a boxing fight. Four critics accepted the challenge, some not realizing Boll was a trained boxer. Boll has also lashed against other people in the film industry, calling Michael Bay and Eli Roth "fucking retards."
Boll also famously went on a rant
when his Kickstarter for Rampage 3
failed and in 2008 an online petition was launched demanded he should retire. He has ridden the infamy train as far as he can and has now fallen into obscurity.
4.Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer
The duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (sometimes referred to as Seltzberg) were a writing team who became notorious in the Noughties. The pair found a very successful formula with their 'spoof' films, starting with 2006's Date Movie
. They were able to make their movies quickly and cheaply which basically stole scenes from more popular films and franchises with pretence of comedy. Despite movies being named Date Movie, Epic Movie
and Disaster Movie
they just referenced other films that were released at the same time. Disaster Movie
for example referenced Iron Man
, The Incredible Hulk
, Sex in the City
. Somehow Seltzberg were able to get actors like Alyson Hannigan, Kal Penn, Jayma Mays, Crispin Glover, Jennifer Coolidge and Fred Willard in their schlock.
All their films failed to gain a Rotten Tomatoes a rating above 7% and the pair became hate figures at the height of their powers. Spill.com's Korey Coleman gave Vampires Suck
a simple a two-word review
: fuck you. Fortunately, Seltzberg has fallen into obscurity and their more recent films have been straight-to-DVD and VOD releases.
3. The Walker Brothers
Doug and Rob Walker are best known for their work on the internet personality The Nostalgia Critic: Doug being the man and Rob working more behind the scenes. The premise of the show is that The Nostalgia Critic reviews bad movies and TV shows from the '80s and 90s as well as other popular targets like The Room
. However, The Walker Brothers have aspirations to become filmmakers and seem to have taken lessons from Tommy Wiseau.
Some of their most ambitious and notorious works were the 'That Guy with the Glasses' Anniversary films, overly long, self-indulgent and unfunny projects that their website published and sold on DVD. They may be internet reviewers/sketch artists but if they sold their product and make money from the advertising they're fair game.
Recently former contributors 'That Guy with the Glasses', now 'Channel Awesome' have released a document detailing the mismanagement of the website and of course the Walkers' directional incompetence. Some of their actions were fairly innoxious like trying to give stage direction to random passersby, amateurish like not preparing food and drink for the cast and crew, getting into heated arguments with a professional camera crew they hired and the downright dangerous. Some of their actions include tying a woman upside down to the point she passes out and making another woman sign a waver after she was injured on set.
The shoot for To Boldly Flee
was considered the worst because they made a 4-hour internet film in the space of a week. They made Lindsay Ellis, a staunch feminist and Lewis Lovhaug, a comic review who has been critical on how rape has been portrayed in comics to be a part of an implied rape joke. The actors were said to be miserable and Doug Walker was oblivious to it. Doug Walker was critical of Phelan Porteous for 'half-assing' the special effects, a man working with no budget and spent hours on making something looking half-way decent.
2. Harold P. Warren
Harold P. Warren only made one film in his career but it was a film that serves as a warning for any wannabe director. Warren was a salesman and insurance manager in El Paso, Texas and was active on the amateur acting scene in the area. When Warren had a small walk-on part on the TV series Route 66
he made a bet with screenwriter Stirling Silliphant that making a horror film was easy. This led to the creation of one of the worst films in history - Manos: The Hands of Fate
Warren hired amateur actors and an inexperienced film crew for his magnum opus. What he gave the world was a disjointed film that was filled with long scenes that went nowhere and made an incredibly dull film. He used a camera that could only capture 32 seconds of footage at a time and had no sound gear so all the actors had to ADR their lines in post. He only took two takes for a shot telling actors that the magic of Hollywood would fix it. The crew reported that John Reynolds, the actor who played Torgo, was high on LSD during filming. Even the title is a sign of incompetence because Manos is Spanish for hands, so the film is really called Hands: The Hands of Fate
Manos: The Hands of Fate
was a forgotten film until 1993 when Mystery Science Theater
which famous riffed the film.
1. James Nguyen
Topping this list is James Nguyen, a Vietnamese native who moved to America in 1975 and became a fan of Alfred Hitchcock. He started his career as a software salesman before moving into the film industry, making his first film in 2003, Julie and Jack
, a sci-fi romance where a man and a woman fall in love in a virtual reality world.
Nguyen true claim to fame was from the 2010 romantic horror thriller Birdemic: Shock and Terror
, a film that quickly gained a reputation for being one of the worst films ever made. Made on a budget of $10,000 Birdemic
was started off as a boring romance before turning in a hilarious horror film with some of the worst special effects ever put to film. It's a film that treated it material way too seriously, has a forceful environmental message and most importantly looks and sounds like it was made by a five-year-old. Birdemic
is notorious for having atrocious cinematography, framing, sound balancing and mixing. It was downright amateurish.
Like other directors on this list,
Nguyen has embraced his notoriety and he made a sequel to Birdemic
, aware of all the criticisms against it: but it was actually worse because it was in on the joke. Nguyen attempted to raise money on Kickstarter for a third film, getting $600 for his $500,000 goal.