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The 10 Best DJ Movies & Documentaries Ever Made

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The Best DJ Movies & Documentaries Ever Made

The best DJ movies and documentaries shed new light on the highs and lows of the DJ lifestyle, featuring soundtracks from the most iconic music producers.

This article covers the greatest films ever made about this art form, from deep dives into the origins of DJing to comedy-dramas that capture the essence of the club scene.

 

The Best DJ Movies & Documentaries Ever Made

We’ve covered all the classic and contemporary DJ movies and documentaries showcasing the history of DJing and the iconic stars and music, making them worth your time watching.

Here’s our list of the 10 best DJ movies and documentaries ever made:

 

1. What We Started (2018)

Type: Documentary

Genre: Music

Duration: 1h 34min

The best documentaries about the experiences of DJs go way beyond answering what does DJ stand for? They also cover the history behind the craft and the ethos that drives DJs to perform.

What We Started is one such documentary, exploring the evolution of dance music – and the DJs who helped shape it – over thirty years.

Superstar DJ Carl Cox is joined by dance music icon Martin Garrix to explore the dance music scene in detail, starting with its origins in Paradise Garage in New York.

From the birth of the house music genre with the introduction of drum machines and synthesizers to the modern-day IDM craze, What We Started manages to fit in plenty of history throughout its running time.

There are interviews featuring some of the best DJs in the world, with David Guetta, Paul Oakenfold, Richie Hawtin, and Moby among the famous artists making an appearance.

It also manages to capture the cultural and geographical shifts of the scene, exploring the transition of electronic music across the Atlantic and the booming rave era in the UK.

With plenty of fascinating anecdotes from the talking heads, an appropriately colorful visual style, and a boundless energy throughout, What We Started encapsulates the electronic music genre and the DJs who made it a success.

What We Started
$6.99
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05/23/2022 12:41 pm GMT

 

2. It’s All Gone Pete Tong (2004)

Type: Movie

Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama

Duration: 1h 30min

It’s All Gone Pete Tong is a movie that embraces the highs and lows of the DJ lifestyle, an anarchic, high-energy whirlwind of parties and clubs that gives the protagonist a hearing disorder.

Herein lies the dramatic core of this biographical club mockumentary, loosely based on the urban legend of Frankie Wilde, played by British comedy legend Paul Kaye.

Wilde starts as a cocky and arrogant Ibiza DJ with a string of hangers-on, drug dealers, and groupies orbiting his life, but once the partying takes its toll, it’s time to step back.

Subsequently, Wilde struggles with depression as his hearing continues to fade and decides to make some changes before it’s too late.

A cautionary tale about the pitfalls of life in the fast lane, It’s All Gone Pete Tong is presented by Tong himself and features techno master Carl Cox, Tiesto, and Paul Van Dyk talking about Wilde’s rise and fall.

While It’s All Gone Pete Tong doesn’t live up to the standards of This Is Spinal Tap, another music mockumentary with which it’s often compared, Kaye’s performance and the film’s passion for the music scene make it excellent viewing for DJs.

It's All Gone Pete Tong
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3. Kevin & Perry Go Large (2000)

Type: Movie

Genre: Comedy, Music

Duration: 1h 22min

British comedy icon Harry Enfield is no stranger to crafting relatable characters we’re all familiar with meeting in our lives, and teenage friends Kevin and Perry (with Kathy Burke taking on the role of Perry) are no exception.

After appearing in Enfield’s sketch show, the pair took to the big screen for Kevin & Perry Go Large, which saw the two aspiring DJs take a flight to Ibiza searching for sun, sand, and saucy encounters.

With one of the best clubs in Ibiza, Amnesia, making an appearance, fans of the music scene of that era will take extra pleasure along with the prerequisite gross-out gags expected from Enfield.

The plot might be on the flimsy side – can they meet beautiful women and find a club to play their record? – but the film is played for broad comedy and delivers plenty of absurdist set-pieces.

Kevin & Perry Go Large is about as unsophisticated as filmmaking gets, but then a vacation in Ibiza during the 1990s was hardly renowned for its high culture.

While the film received a critical mauling at the time of release, Enfield certainly nailed it when putting together an excellent soundtrack of the era’s greatest club hits.

Fatboy Slim, Underworld, Groove Armada, and alternative music icons including Oasis and Jools Holland all come together in a perfect mix of some of the best 90s songs.

Kevin & Perry Go Large
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4. Avicii: True Stories (2017)

Type: Documentary

Genre: Biography, Music

Duration: 1h 37min

One of the most successful electronic music artists of all time, Avicii was a Swedish DJ, remixer, and record producer who sadly passed away in 2018.

Released a year before his tragic death, Avicii: True Stories charts the experiences of the real Tim Bergling behind the Avicii avatar as he struggles with mental health issues while touring the globe.

Where It’s All Gone Pete Tong plays the trials and tribulations of being a superstar DJ for laughs, Avicii: True Stories takes an all too sobering look at the consequences of fame.

Featuring plenty of real-life footage of the star on tour, the documentary also shows the harsh reality of life in a hospital and the pitfalls of living with a disease like pancreatitis.

There are also appearances from David Guetta, Wyclef Jean, and Chris Martin, who give their opinions on Avicii’s influence on the dance music scene and legacy.

Made available to view on Netflix after Bergling’s death, Avicii: True Stories offers a portrait of a talented artist who struggled with his meteoric rise to fame.

Avicii: True Stories
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5. Berlin Calling (2008)

Type: Movie

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music

Duration: 1h 49min

Germany has long been the home of some of the world’s finest techno, and Paul Kalkbrenner has often been dubbed the techno master.

Berlin Calling depicts his drug-fueled DJing lifestyle and subsequent institutionalization for substance abuse after a PMA-containing ecstasy tablet sends him into drug-induced psychosis.

Paul Kalkbrenner takes on the starring role as DJ Ickarus, with Berlin Calling as much about Berlin’s extravagant party scene as it is about the psychiatric clinic where his character attempts to recover.

It’s here where DJ Ickarus decides to set up his production and dig out the best DJ equipment and music equipment, so he can turn his life around and overcome his addictions.

Paul Kalkbrenner received a massive boost in his career thanks to Berlin Calling, due to featuring his tracks “Azure” and “Sky and Sand” on its techno soundtrack.

Berlin Calling
$35.00
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05/23/2022 12:12 pm GMT

 

6. Steve Aoki: I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2016)

Type: Documentary

Genre: Biography, Music

Duration: 1h 19min

Steve Aoki is a DJ and entertainer who has consistently remained at the cutting edge of technology, and in early 2022, he was touting music’s unstoppable embrace of NFTs.

His documentary, Steve Aoki: I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, takes viewers on a journey into the heart of his creative process and music ethos

Focusing on his preparations to release his double album and take the stage at Madison Square Gardens, the documentary takes some surprising turns, exploring Aoki’s personal life and childhood experiences.

His father, Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki, is as intriguing a figure as Steve Aoki himself, and his frank and open discussions about his childhood lend the documentary an additional emotional weight.

Beyond the personal life aspects, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead also brings a lot of insights into the high-flying career of a superstar EDM performer, and the movie shows plenty of live footage and behind-the-scenes clips of Aoki working on his music.

Steve Aoki is a pioneer of electronic music and, in the eyes of his fans, has led the dream life, so I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead offers a welcome insight into the lifestyle of a world-class DJ, which other movies lack.

 

7. Groove (2000)

Type: Movie

Genre: Drama, Music

Duration: 1h 26min

Groove explores San Francisco’s underground rave party scene, featuring a pounding score with the kind of music you’ll find on the best DJ record pools.

It’s a laid-back look at the rave scene than some other movies which explore the topic, effectively capturing the hectic process of putting together an underground party.

Everything from sending out the invitations and finding the warehouse for the party, and finding the best DJ to blow the roof off is covered in Groove.

The film concludes with the appearance of John Digweed, who arrives in the nick of time to save the party from disaster by playing the epic club tune Heaven Sent by Bedrock.

It’s a film designed to fill viewers with a sense of nostalgia, capturing the noisy environment of an underground rave and the eccentric characters it takes to pull off.

Groove largely skirts around the subject of drug dealers and the negative aspects of the scene but remains one of the best DJ movies about a defining era.

Groove
$12.99
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05/23/2022 02:36 pm GMT

 

8. Human Traffic (1999)

Type: Movie

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Duration: 1h 39min

Unlike Groove, Human Traffic pulls no punches to show the clubbing scene with warts and all, with writer-director Justin Kerrigan throwing every aspect into the film.

Based on the UK club scene of the late 90s, Human Traffic follows a group of teenage friends as they escape their tiresome lives for a night on the town.

Copious amounts of drugs and alcohol are consumed, and an after-party featuring drug dealer-turned counterculture icon Howard Marks follows up the scenes in the clubs.

Carl Cox and Pete Tong also appear in the movie, while the soundtrack covers everything from hip hop and house to hardcore and drum and bass.

Human Traffic has a good cast beyond the DJ cameos, including an early role from Danny Dyer before he became known as the go-to actor for football hooligans in the years after.

A rollercoaster comedy-drama, Human Traffic has become the quintessential British film about the club scene and a tribute to the great music which defined the times.

Human Traffic
$12.99
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05/23/2022 02:56 pm GMT

 

9. Maestro (2003)

Type: Documentary

Genre: Music

Duration: 1h 29min

If you’re looking for an outstanding documentary on the birth of dance music, Maestro takes viewers into the underground New York party scene where it all began.

Dance culture started in the famous Loft and Garage clubs, giving birth first to disco, and then to its evolution into the house music genre.

Maestro is packed with historical footage of the scene and interviews with the DJs and club promoters who helped make it what it was, including the legendary Larry Levan.

Despite the documentary’s low budget, there’s genuine authenticity on display here, and the filmmakers are as passionate about the scene they’re exploring as the people who made it possible.

With an outstanding soundtrack featuring many of the era’s best hits, Maestro offers a glimpse into the underground dance music scene that started it all.

 

10. Scratch (2001)

Type: Documentary

Genre: Music

Duration: 1h 31min

Scratch is a documentary that shows just how far you can push the art of DJing to the extremes, exploring the mastery of scratching in depth.

This classic DJ documentary features interviews with many of the best scratch DJs of the era, offering their unique insights into the art form.

Beginning with the basics of beat juggling and moving on to its evolution into turntablism, Scratch explores DJing in its most virtuosic form.

Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Shadow, and scratch master Qbert are among the DJs interviewed about their approach to the craft, while Herbie Hancock and Grandmaster Flash make an appearance through archival footage.

Scratch breaks up the talking heads’ interviews with archival footage of international DJ battles and house parties, showcasing the level of energy their performances brought to events.

With many DJs relying exclusively on software and controllers, Scratch is an insight into a DJ style few performers have truly mastered.

Scratch
$13.99
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05/23/2022 12:16 pm GMT

 

Summary

We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the best DJ movies and documentaries ever made!

If you’re looking for an entertaining movie about a DJ’s lifestyle or would prefer a deep-dive documentary into the art form’s history, there’s something here for you.

What’s the best DJ movie or documentary ever made, in your opinion? Leave a comment below. 

Andy has been producing music since the early days of Cubase and spent much of the 2000s mixing house and techno with his trusty Technics 1200s. Fast forward two decades, you'll find him in his home studio experimenting with the latest music production software, tinkering with Ableton plug-ins, and occasionally trying (and failing) to complete Cuphead for the hundredth time.

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