“The crazy thing about the food world is hard work does not necessarily pay off,” says Dustin Harrison-Atlas, director of the documentary “New Chefs on the Block,” which chronicles the birth of two local restaurants. “You can be the hardest worker on the planet and have great food, but you can get off to a really rough start and it can kill you in a matter of months.”

On the other hand, sometimes restaurants survive — and thrive.

For his film, the D.C.-area resident spent more than 3½ years following brother-in-law Frank Linn, the owner of the wildly popular Frankly…Pizza! in Kensington, Md., and Aaron Silverman, the owner of Capitol Hill’s Rose’s Luxury, which in 2014 was named the country’s best new restaurant by Bon Appetit magazine. The film proves that opening a restaurant is more blood, sweat and tears than it is mozzarella, lobster and caviar.

The first non-festival screenings of “New Chefs on the Block” next week will feature post-show discussions with local chefs, restaurant owners and food writers; starting the week of April 17, the movie will be available on iTunes, VOD and DVD. Making the movie almost killed Harrison-Atlas, but he lived to take our questions.

So, you’ve got a casual pizza place and a fine-dining establishment. Why those two restaurants?
When Frank tested his pizza at home, it was unbelievable. I said, “If you ever open a restaurant, we need to make this film.” [Then] I said, “Why don’t I find another chef who’s thinking even bigger for their first restaurant?” I went online and Googled “new chefs in D.C. opening their first restaurant” and the first thing that popped up was Aaron Silverman’s Kickstarter campaign.

How did the direction of the film change during shooting?
My goal was to only film them through their first year of business, but when Aaron became so successful I was like, “This is a really neat opportunity to see what it’s like to become a celebrity chef,” and I wanted to watch the impact of the weight of the crown. So I was like, “Well, guess I’m not done filming.” So, what was going to be a year project took 3½ years, which I did not plan on.

That’s similar to how these guys built their restaurants.
The parallels were just unbelievable. I was never home. My wife just had our first child and I would be coming home at 2 in the morning. That final summer, for five months I didn’t take a day off and it was brutal for everyone. The parallels for me producing, directing, shooting, editing my first film and these guys opening their first restaurants was really an interesting part of the process and helped me to connect to their stories even more.

The most important question: Do you have to stand in Rose’s Luxury’s notorious line?
No. I get to skip. I’m one of the few people on the planet who gets to call and say, “Hey, can I jump in?” Kristen Page-Kirby (Express)

Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema, 7235 Woodmont Ave.; Wed., 7 p.m., $15. Landmark E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW; Wed., 7 p.m., $15.