Feeling a little low on inspiration? It happens to the best of us. While there are plenty of ways we all replenish that store of creative energy – walking in the woods, heading to a conference, reading great books – there’s one thing you can do that requires nothing of you except to sit and stare at a screen for an hour and a half or so.
Sure, doing so may not be the healthiest thing for your body, but there’s no denying that films – good films that make you think, at least – can have a decidedly positive impact on your mind.
Whether it’s helping you see things from a different perspective, giving you a glimpse of a new technique, or just flooding your brain with creative images, a film can definitely help bring you out of the inspiration desert. Just make sure you follow it up with a walk or something.
Indie Game: the Movie
This acclaimed documentary follows two tiny teams of indie game designers as they work like crazy to create their games while meeting deadlines and staying financially afloat. The teams profiled are the people behind indie games Super Meat Boy and Fez, two highly successful video games released in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
Of course, when this movie was filmed, that success was totally uncertain and far in the future. If you’re feeling particularly underdoggish, this is the movie for you.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Documenting the activism and art of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, this film is inspiring on all kinds of levels. For one thing, Ai Weiwei practices his art and social activism in defiance of the Chinese government – despite having been imprisoned for his work.
For another, Ai’s art is truly striking. He uses materials like sunflower seed husks and bicycles to create epic installations that are both aesthetically and politically daring. Ai’s boldness in the face of persecution will make you want to get up off your couch and create something.
What’s more inspiring than learning about the pioneers of space travel? In Rocket Men, you can watch archival clips documenting major moments in the history of space exploration, from the Mercury missions to Gemini and Apollo.
The film is weighted more toward the beauty and awe behind the space program rather than the cold hard facts – and while that might leave scientists disappointed, it means that the film is perfect for getting your creative juices flowing.
Steve Jobs: One Last Thing
This 2011 PBS documentary profiles Apple founder and iconic inventor and visionary Steve Jobs. Though mostly featuring interviews with people who knew and worked with Jobs, the film does include an exclusive interview with the man himself. The interview was recorded a year after he found out he had cancer, and sees Jobs opening up about his philosophy of life and work.
In addition, Steve Jobs: One Last Thing explores the way Jobs changed how we live and work with his groundbreaking products. It goes without saying that this is a film tech designers will love, although it will also appeal to anyone who’s ever used and appreciated an Apple product.
The Social Network
If you still haven’t seen The Social Network, you’re due for a viewing – if you have seen it, well, you’re still probably due for another viewing.
This dramatic look at Mark Zuckerberg and the invention of Facebook offers not just a compelling glimpse into the origins of one of the most important innovations of the 21st century, but some good old-fashioned mudslinging entertainment too. The film goes into the lawsuits that followed Facebook’s invention, as rivals the Winklevoss twins and Zuckerberg’s former business partner Eduardo Saverin both sued Zuckerberg and the company for different reasons.
Radical innovation, behind-the-scenes business development, sensational legal issues – the film has everything a stumped inventor could need to jump-start her own creative fantasies of fame and fortune.
Still feeling inspirationally challenged? Read our posts How to Beat the Post-Holiday Blues and Get Back into Creative Mode, 5 Enjoyable Ways to Increase Your Creative Thinking, and 6 TED Talks to Inspire Inventors and Product Designers.