Filmworker (2018)

NR Running Time: 94 mins



  • Filmworker opens us up to what life is like on a movie set and helps further define the process of filmmaking.

  • Amazingly detailed. There is almost nothing that does not go uncovered by the interviewees or Leon Vitali.

  • You cannot help but grow a greater appreciation for Kubrick and his creative process for his movies.


  • Honestly, I found this to be insanely slow.

  • If you are not familiar with Stanley Kubrick and his work, this may not be the movie for you.

  • No matter the topic, there are people who will simply never watch documentaries.


Would you give up your fame and fortune to work as the right-hand man of a film director? That’s what Leon Vitali did for one of the most preeminent directors in movie history, Stanley Kubrick. Filmworker, a new documentary from director Tony Zierra, follows the relationship between Vitali and Kubrick from start to finish, while also showing us, what seem might call the absolute insanity behind each one of Kubrick’s thought-provoking films.

The two men first met during the making of Kubrick’s 1975 film Barry Lyndon. Set in the 18th century, Kubrick cast Vitali to portray Lord Bullingdon, a main antagonist in the film. A working actor prior to Barry Lyndon, Vitali bonded with Kubrick and got to experience the feel of life on a Kubrick set. After the movie was released, Vitali continued to work as an actor and behind-the-scenes on film productions, before Kubrick asked him to join the production of his latest film, 1980’s The Shining. And thus, a unique partnership was started.

In FIlmworker, Vitali is now 69 years old, skinny as a pencil, and holding on to what’s left of his blonde hair in an old bandana. He tells story after story about his time with Kubrick. In 1975, Vitali was a vibrant young man, with a list of performances in his past and plenty of opportunities for acting in his future. Through his decisions to stay by Kubrick’s side, Vitali now lives to keep the memory and spirit of Kubrick alive. And one cannot help but think of a handful of questions when we see such devotion to one man’s creative vision.

Whatever Kubrick wanted, Vitali would get. To many of the actors and crew around, it seemed as if Vitali obeyed every command Kubrick gave, no matter how silly or trivial it may have been.

Those familiar with Kubrick’s process would either describe him as a perfectionist or insane, and, on some level, all geniuses tend to be at least a little bit insane. Vitali was among the the only people close to the director who understood that and respected his process. Through their partnership, a trust develops: Kubrick would have Vitali record everything. From working with the actors to taking prop inventory, and everything in between, Vitali basically worked 24 hours a day to make sure Kubrick was content.

For 19 years, Vitali stayed by Kubrick’s side and gave all the energy he had and more to make sure Kubrick’s films were the best they could be. Through his loyalty, one starts to wonder the toll it may have taken on his devotion to the legendary director. You can see the emotional and physical toll those 19 years put on Vitali, just by looking at him. What he’s done and gone through for Kubrick is unbelievable and Filmworker does allow viewers to grow a greater appreciation for not only Kubrick’s film catalogue, but what Vitali did, and continues to do, to preserve Kubrick’s art.

There are a lot of interesting little details within FIlmworker, and for anyone who considers themselves a fan of Stanley Kubrick, I would give this documentary a try.

However, to everyone else, Filmworker runs very slow and is, at times, tedious to get through. Even if the film feels lackluster in presentation, Zierra opens a door into showing us who the true Stanley Kubrick was, with Vitali offering us insight into how Kubrick went about making some of the most unforgettable movies of all time.


Documentary Featuring: Leon Vitali, Ryan O’Neal, Danny Lloyd, Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey.

Director: Tony Zierra
Release Date: May 11, 2018
Kino Lorber