Top 10 Hidden Gems Every Young Filmmaker Should Watch


As a young filmmaker, exploring lesser-known films can offer a wealth of inspiration and technical insights. This top ten list of films includes some hidden gems you might not have come across before.

All of these films are rated PG or U by the BBFC, so should be good viewing for most families. We’ve designed the list to inspire a young filmmaker aiming to get inspired! So, grab the popcorn, and get ready for the long bank holiday weekend!

Young filmmaker watching films
This top 10 list is perfect for a young filmmaker looking for inspiration

Top 10 Films for any aspiring Young Filmmaker

Take a look at our list, and let us know if you have any suggestions for a future list!

“The Secret of Kells” (2009)

Directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey, “The Secret of Kells” is a visually stunning animated film inspired by Irish mythology. Dive into its intricate Celtic artwork, imaginative storytelling, and use of symbolism to discover a beautiful story.

“Song of the Sea” (2014)

Another gem from Tomm Moore, “Song of the Sea” weaves a magical tale of family, folklore, and adventure. Explore its hand-drawn animation, evocative music, and emotional depth. This film is a great example of how sound can help tell a powerful story.

“Whale Rider” (2002)

Directed by Niki Caro, “Whale Rider” is a heartfelt coming-of-age story set in New Zealand. Pay close attention to its powerful performances, cultural authenticity, and themes of tradition and identity, which can inspire young filmmakers to explore diverse perspectives in their own work.

“Kirikou and the Sorceress” (1998)

Directed by Michel Ocelot, “Kirikou and the Sorceress” is a captivating animated film based on West African folklore. Delve into its unique animation style, rich storytelling, and themes of courage and compassion – well worth a watch!

“The Red Turtle” (2016)

A co-production between Studio Ghibli and Wild Bunch, “The Red Turtle” is a mesmerising silent animated film that explores the cycle of life and nature. Study its minimalist storytelling, expressive animation, and universal themes to discover the power of visual storytelling.

“A Cat in Paris” (2010)

Directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, “A Cat in Paris” is a stylish animated caper set in the streets of Paris. Explore its unique art style, clever storytelling, and playful tone, which demonstrate how animation can appeal to audiences of all ages.

“My Neighbor Totoro” (1988)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, “My Neighbor Totoro” is a beloved Japanese animated film that captures the wonder and innocence of childhood. Pay close attention to its gentle pacing, detailed backgrounds, and themes of nature and imagination, which continue to inspire filmmakers around the world.

“The Secret Garden” (1993)

Directed by Agnieszka Holland, “The Secret Garden” is a magical adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic novel. Dive into its lush cinematography, enchanting score, and themes of healing and renewal to learn how to create immersive cinematic worlds.

“The Iron Giant” (1999)

Directed by Brad Bird, “The Iron Giant” is a heartwarming tale of friendship and acceptance set in the 1950s. Explore its hand-drawn animation, dynamic action sequences, and emotional depth, which showcase the artistry of traditional animation in the digital age.

“The Triplets of Belleville” (2003)

Directed by Sylvain Chomet, “The Triplets of Belleville” is a quirky animated film that celebrates the joy of music and adventure. Pay close attention to its distinct visual style, inventive use of sound, and wordless storytelling, which push the boundaries of animated filmmaking.

So there’s our list. What have we missed out? Let us know!

One of the best ways to improve as a young filmmaker is to watch as much film as you can. By exploring diverse genres, styles, and cultural perspectives, aspiring filmmakers can broaden their creative horizons and discover new ways to captivate audiences of all ages.

A good resource to check out is the BFI’s Family Films list.

So take a cinematic journey beyond the mainstream and let these films inspire your next project.


Hone your skills as a young filmmaker at Sparks Film Schools

The Sparks Film School workshop programme includes weekly workshops and holiday courses – the perfect place to practise your filmmaking skills. We’d welcome any young filmmaker along for a free trial.

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