6 Documentaries To Get Your Creative Marketing Juices Flowing

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Creative inspiration can come from anywhere.

For the past long while, my most creative inspiration has come from watching documentaries. There are six, in particular, that really stick out in my mind, and here they are in alphabetical order…

Art & Copy. "It reveals the work and wisdom of some of the most influential advertising creatives of our time – people who’ve profoundly impacted our culture, yet are virtually unknown outside their industry." This movie will inspire you in many ways. The truth is that most advertising sucks for the same reason that most art sucks: it’s hard to make it great. Those that do make it great deserve all of the accolades and prosperity.

Classic Albums – U2 – The Joshua Tree. I was never a huge U2 fan, but this documentary tuned me into one. This movie peeks behind the scenes to show a band that was truly trying to create something that would both fascinate and captivate. The true beauty (as you’ll see) lies in the subtly of how this record was written, produced, recorded and performed. If you can bring this type of commitment to your work, you’re bound to be famous too.

Helvetica. "A feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which recently celebrated its 50th birthday in 2007) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives." It’s a fascinating documentary about people with a passion for something that seems so innocuous, but that is actually a critical part of modern design and how we operate.

Objectified. "A feature-length documentary about our complex relationship with manufactured objects and, by extension, the people who design them. It’s a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets." Take a second to think about this: everything from the tip of your shoelaces to the house you live in was designed and manufactured by us, people. We’re an amazing species and our fascination with creating things is highlighted in this amazing film.

Secret Origin – The Story of DC Comics. "Behind the amazing tales of legendary super heroes is the equally amazing story of the company that told them. So many heroes, so many stories to tell–stories of DC Comics‘ 75 years of challenges, creativity and triumph." Whether you like comic books or not, the story of how this art form was created and the struggles it had (and continues to have) will make you look at Superman in a very different light.

Transcendent Man – The Life And Ideas of Ray Kurzweil. "The compelling feature-length documentary film, by director Barry Ptolemy, chronicles the life and controversial ideas of luminary Ray Kurzweil. For more than three decades, inventor, futures, and New York Times best-selling author Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our future." Imagine being able to upload your memories and conscience to a place that allows you to stay alive forever (without the need for your physical body). If that sounds too crazy, how about a moment in the not-to-distant-future where humans and technology become one… and the technology part is smarter than us? Mind-blowing stuff? You have to watch this documentary.

What documentaries have sparked your creative juices?


  1. Exactly what i was thinking…
    …Mitch, I need to know…what did you have for breakfast? 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed Art&Copy
    Two that saw recently from the art world:
    “Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock” (trailer mysteriously missing from the web)
    “The Art of the Steal”

    – @barrettrossie

  3. Art&Copy seems interesting, thank you.
    I’ve been half way through Helvetica and Objectified on my Netflix for the passed 2 months struggling to convince myself watching them, Objectified is a tad more interesting, maybe because it reminds of this: ”I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, yet not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. In fact, if you can understand me—no, that’s too much to ask of anyone—if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing.”
    U2 as always, great.
    I Like Comics but most of the mainstream have taken the same approach as companies do as mentioned in AD&COPY, insulting to one’s intellect. Funny:

    Watched Transcendent Man on iTunes a couple of weeks ago, can’t believe I paid for it! not sure if you caught my status but here it is: “Ray Kurzweil, is the dumbest smartest man I’ve come across. In the – middle – of Metropolis(1927) there is a strange house overlooked by the centuries”
    have a good weekend

  4. This type of post is the primary reason I read Six Pixels…while everyone else is waxing poetic about “optimizing your Facebook page,” you always bring something different and fascinating to my door. Thank you!

  5. Great list Mitch – Have you seen Exit Through the Gift Shop? I highly recommend it. Not just entertaining, but shows the great lengths people will go to for their work which I found to be inspiring – and also how hype can have a dramatic impact on the public’s perception of what art is. I think it may also be on Netfilx.

  6. Great blog Mitch! Just happened to watch the Transcendent man a few weeks ago and watched the making of the Joshua Tree per your blog (awesome it was available on Netflix stream). “Running to Stand Still” is such a great song, and it makes me even like U2 more that they ended the movie with it!
    By the way- what’s the method behind the songs after the Podcast? Is their some subliminal messaging associated with the picks and quantity that they get played? 🙂
    They are ALL great songs and artists! Thanks!

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